Friday, March 26, 2010

Prejudice Behavior At Work

As employers -- no matter what the environment -- we are accountable in keeping a constructive and proficient workplace. A stumbling block to this would be intolerance and racism in the work environment. As employers, we must expose this and eliminate it in the workplace. In the hiring process, performing pre-employment screening and even behavioral assessments may expose this from the beginning and thus remove the threat of introducing this to our work environment.

Even with screening processes in place -- which can save a lot of future grief -- we may still encounter prejudice at work. So how do we solve this? We can’t combat intolerance with anger, but rather through understanding and education. Behavior such as this is an undeviating result of stereotyping. Stereotyping begins with judging and labeling others which then causes prejudice and in turn results in a negative and critical atmosphere.
So what can we do as employers to help eliminate this problem and create a more harmonious tone?

  1. Expand Perceptions. And it all begins with you, the boss. Interact with your employees on a more personal level, creating deeper personal relationships and opening your mind to diversity and trying to empathize with others’ situations.

  2. Increase the Cultural Diversity of Professional Contacts. This creates an environment of learning of different cultures within your business.

  3. Expand your Knowledge and Make Goals. Study up on methods to remove judgmental behavior at work. Demonstrate to your employees through example and sheer motivation that stereotyping is unacceptable at work. Make it a clear intention to succeed.

If our employees are willing to be educated, much can be learned from our differences. With this as a goal, we can move forward rather than stay stuck in stereotypes and thus squelching an individual’s growth.

Prejudice behavior affects the morale of the work environment which in turn affects motivation for employees but it also can affect the bottom line -- money. A Walmart store in Southern New Jersey is a good example of this. Apparently a male voice came over the loudspeaker, announcing, “Attention Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now.” This was followed up quickly by a manager apologizing. Customers were obviously angry, expressing this to the store management. Some customers have claimed they won’t patronize the store anymore until this issue is dealt with properly. And in fact this isn’t the first time the vendor has faced this problem. Walmart has already faced lawsuits of black customers claiming they were treated unfairly or women claiming men had preferential treatment with promotions and raises. A $17.5 million lawsuit was paid in 2009 for racial discrimination in hiring truck drivers. There are other similar examples. Read the full article here.

Unfortunately intolerance and prejudice behavior does exist in the work environment so let’s try and weed out this intolerance through pre-employment screening processes and behavioral assessments and then also educate ourselves on how to create and maintain a cohesive workplace, helping all employees achieve their potential.

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