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Reasons Why Discrimination Continues to Exist in the Workplace
Discrimination still exists in the workplace today despite laws put into place to protect employee rights. Even though Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee for race, age, gender, disabilities and wages, there were still 99,412 discrimination claims filed in 2012, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The reasons discrimination is still alive in the workplace has much to do with the economy, financial pressure and lack of diversity training.
Harassment is Not Stopped
If a woman who is continuously subjected to offensive pictures and sexually charged comments refuses to file a formal complaint with human resources or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there is no paper trail to follow and never any consequences for the perpetrator. According to Donna Ballman, an employment discrimination lawyer and author of "The Writer's Guide to the Courtroom: Let's Quill All the Lawyers," sexual harassers enjoy exploiting a woman's fear of getting fired from a job in desperate economic times. Ball also adds that if the behavior is not stopped, it will accelerate. Others may join in or begin to discriminate against the employee thinking she provoked the boss, for example, to secure a promotion.
Absence of Good-Behavior Modeling
Brad Karsh is the president of Chicago-based JB Training Solutions, a company that works with employers to enhance business skills. He says that a healthy workplace should have diversity in all policies, business initiatives and departments, starting with the higher-ups. "When managers act responsibly in leadership roles and offer employees the necessary skill training and environment to do a good job, we don't see as much discrimination in the workplace," reveals Karsh. In addition, employees need to see higher-ups promoting employees of all races, genders and ages so that employees feel accepted and valued.
Traditional or Baby Boomer interviewers have been known to discriminate against the younger-generation workers, according to Karsh. "Feelings of this generation acting entitled, being unprepared for the workforce or seeming immature are all things someone of an older generation might unfairly assume," says Karsh. When this happens, a workplace misses out on the benefits of having a diverse age group that can pull from different experiences to create dynamic, creative business ideas. In addition, traditional labeling enters the equation. Older generations may still hold on to prejudices from growing up, such as certain races are lazy or that women are not as capable as men.
Lack of Diversity Training
An important aspect to eliminating racial, ethnic, religious, sexual and age-related discrimination is by educating employees on the benefits of a diverse workplace. Sensitivity training seminars and courses explain how discrimination lessens when employees feel included and valued. In addition, productivity rises and stress-related leaves of absence are no longer a concern. Because of this, employees will go the extra mile, such as working longer hours to complete deadlines, to produce stellar results. Also, employees with different cultural backgrounds are able to attract like-minded clients, which boosts company revenue, and find quicker solutions to sourcing, servicing and allocation of resources.
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.