What is Workplace Discrimination?
Discrimination in workplace implies any biases or differentiation towards the employee by the employer, fellow employees, or clients in the workplace. It may occur due to sex, appearance, color, religion, gender, or any irrelevant and disgraceful behavior, which may be either intentional or unintentional.
In this blog, we will be highlighting the reasons for workplace discrimination, its effects on employees, and the remedies to prevent it.
Reasons for Workplace Discrimination
Appearance defines the persona of an employee but it certainly does not make an employee open for discrimination. However, it has been a major pointer for the reason of discrimination. Appearance stereotype of people builds a taboo of not accepting anything beyond their specific mindset of being perfect. There are many who have birth flaws like squint eyes, dwarfism, genetic flaws like down syndrome, etc. and their appearance makes them a topic of gossip resulting in humiliation and mental stress.
In India, skin color has always been a vital discrimination element. The culture of ‘brown skin’ and ‘fair skin’ discrimination initiated by the Britishers has prevailed over the years and when it comes to the workplace, the effect is quite observable. Employees often get differentiated due to their skin color which in turn affects their work.
▸ Caste and Religion
Even if there are several laws in place to stop caste and religious discrimination, employees of ‘society-defined’ lower caste is treated as outsiders in most workplaces. When it comes to religion, in recent times, the differences have become negligible but not completely absent. In certain workplaces, employees belonging to a specific religion do have a biased work approach towards those not belonging to theirs.
▸ LGBTQ Community
LGBTQ refers to people belonging to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Even after the abolition of Article 377, they constantly struggle for their societal acceptance in most workplaces. They are not only treated differently but also harassed, which ultimately creates a negative work environment for employees belonging to this community.
Stereotypes are pre-set ideologies of people which are orthodox in nature. This mindset is infectious as it spreads like a virus within the organization. There are various stereotypes on various topics which become the reason for discrimination in the workplace. For example, pregnancy, where most have thoughts that a working mother is not fit to manage work, HIV+ employee being treated as untouchable as the thought of HIV+ being a flu-like commutable disease is stereotyped. Such discrimination becomes a matter of concern in most workplaces.
Impacts of Workplace discrimination:
Those were a few reasons for workplace discrimination and the effect of it is much more observable in the organization. Let’s take a look at some of them.
▸ Gloomy Work Environment
Discrimination has a worsening impact on the working environment as it contaminates the vibe of the entire workspace resulting in negativity. Employees lose enthusiasm and energy to work in a place where they are sidelined to feel isolated.
▸ Less Productivity
‘Teamwork makes the dream work’ but favouritism and discrimination are inversely proportional to productivity and growth as it directly affects the employees because of isolation and ‘teamwork becomes a dream’. The sheer existence of differences creates a sense of self-doubt within an employee and to fit in, their focus shifts from work to self-assessing and not being the ugly duckling in the flock.
▸ Increased Staff Turnover
When an employee feels unwanted or different, they tend to lose interest in work which ultimately leads to switching jobs in fear of being felt as an alien. Discrimination discourages employees from the core. Hence, quitting seems easier for them than to focus on work priorities.
Mental Health of Employees gets affected
An office is a place where employees spend most hours of the day, so it becomes quite obvious to get affected by the work environment. The sense of isolation, workplace harassment, and discrimination widely affects the mental health of employees and instigates anxiety, stress, and depression. Both their personal and professional life gets disturbed, thereby affecting their work-life balance and mental health.
▸ Bad Will
Work discrimination creates a toxic work environment where some employees are victims and others as the perpetuators. Discrimination forbids the recognition of the deserving wherein they stop working effectively and productivity gets affected. It results in the downgrading of business and creates a bad will in the market, eventually losing clients as no client would like to work with a company where productivity goes down the drain.
‘Every cloud has a silver lining’, likewise, there are remedies to avoid workplace discrimination and create a healthy work environment, like:
▸ Addressing the Issues
The management should ensure to address the issues of employees and provide them with an interactive and comfortable work environment. They should resolve any issues haunting their mental health due to discrimination in the workplace or non-recognition of work.
▸ Recognition in Work
Recognition brings motivation and increases the productivity of an employee. Providing appraisals, promotions, bonuses, and rewards for good work to the deserving staff encourages them to polish their performance and become an asset to the organization. A motivated employee focuses on work and will be in a continuous pace of improvement which results in increased productivity and retention.
▸ Awareness Creation
Awareness of the laws for the protection of employees should be intimated by the management. If the employees are aware of these laws and any workplace discrimination occurs intentionally, they can exercise the protection laws. It will provide adequate protection for the employees.
Workplace discrimination, whether intentional or non-intentional, not only discourages employees but also brings disgrace to the organization. Equal treatment irrespective of caste, creed, color, sex, or age will boost employee morale, and taking necessary remedies to avoid discrimination will create a healthy working environment.