Workplace discrimination, whether on the basis of race, gender, religion, cultural background or sexual orientation, can be traumatic for the person who is discriminated against and disruptive to the staff as a whole. Enlightened managers make it clear that discrimination isn't welcome in the workplace, both through explicit prohibitions and through education and training.
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As a means of educating new employees and also protecting the company against accusations of discrimination, it is important for a business to explicitly state its non-discrimination policy and to make sure that all employees are aware of it. Some companies have new employees sign a statement that they have read the policy. Some include a diversity policy in their publications, and some post signs about diversity and non-discrimination in the workplace. All of these acts make it clear where the company stands and make people who may be prone to discriminatory actions think twice before mistreating a co-worker.
Accommodation of Differences
There are a number of things that a business can and should do to accommodate cultural and religious differences, beyond simply stating that they are in favour of diversity. Practicing Muslims pray five times a day, and require time and a location to do this. Religions have various dietary restrictions that should be accommodated in workplace cafeterias. Some cultures and religions have manners of dress that are noticeably different than the mainstream, and these should also be accommodated. In short, anything having to do with religion, diet, dress and other customs should be accommodated in the workplace, as long as it doesn't disrupt the work being done.
Many people who are unaccustomed to people of other cultures and religions say or do inappropriate things, not out of spite but out of ignorance. Organising events that help people to better understand each other can help to dispel this ignorance and reduce the chances of offence being taken. Events can also occur to bridge the gap between men and women in workplaces where there are gender issues occurring, and to reduce homophobia in workplaces where people with non-mainstream sexualities are working. Management can send a message to workers that they should be concerned with the quality of their own work and not with the private lives of their coworkers.
Celebrations of Diversity
Positive expressions of diversity can help workplaces to become more comfortable with the range of religions, cultures and ways of being that exist within them. Celebrating different cultures' holidays with food and decorations can educate others about them and make people appreciate ways of being that are different from their own. Gender differences in the office can be celebrated in a lighthearted way by creating "Men's Day" and "Women's Day" and inventing office traditions to celebrate them.
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