Discrimination and harassment are some of the most problematic occurrences within the work environment. Unfortunately, while we have made great progress over the years – prejudice and unfairness still occur today.
For businesses, these things contribute to a toxic work environment. For employees, it can have devastating consequences on one’s mental health. Thankfully, while you can’t always stop it, there are steps you can take.
Below we are going to discuss exactly how you can protect yourself from discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Understand your rights and educate yourself.
The first step you should take on this journey is to better understand your rights. Familiarize yourself with company policies and keep contact numbers for your HR representative and supervisors handy.
If you’re an individual that has been hired at-will you may be worried about losing your job. Remember, you are protected in these instances, and it’s never okay to be fired because of discrimination or harassment. If you have additional concerns, you may want to research further into the discontinuation of at-will employment terms.
Document and collect evidence.
If you believe you are being discriminated against, start to collect records of actions and behaviors that are directed toward you. Be sure to include the date, time, and details of the incident as this will help you build a case later on.
After collecting your notes, keep them out of sight until you are ready to move forward. Someone may try and destroy them if they realize you are going to file a complaint.
Don’t be afraid to speak out.
You should never be afraid to speak out when being treated unfairly. Discuss the situation with the person involved and state that their behavior makes you uncomfortable.
In some instances, they may not be aware that they are causing you distress. But if it persists and doesn’t resolve anything, you should take the necessary steps before it causes you further harm.
Alongside advocating for your rights, take this time to be proactive so that the entire workplace can benefit from your guidance. By being an advocate for equal treatment you can create an inclusive work environment for all.
A few suggestions you might bring forward include:
- – Diversity training for all staff members.
- – Gathering regular feedback from employees.
- – Creating safe spaces around the office.
- – Using inclusive language.
You can read more about developing a positive workspace here.
Seek additional support if needed.
During this time, you may be feeling incredibly stressed and overwhelmed. While it can be difficult to talk about your emotions, it’s good to have a support network available.
Whether it be friends, family members, or a trusted professional – they can provide you with guidance. If you’re looking to go one step further, check out some non-governmental organizations and advocacy groups with individuals who have been through similar circumstances.
Harassment and discrimination can take many forms, but it doesn’t have to control your life. You deserve to work in a safe and inclusive environment, so take these steps to protect yourself. With the right education and research, you can help pave the way to a more accepting future.