The numbers and figures surrounding reported HR claims only elucidate so much. Many forms of harassment and discrimination go unreported for a number of reasons –fears around being labeled a complainer, insecurities about whether human resources will believe you, and concerns that one may lose their job over “ruffling too many feathers” or being seen as a liability to the company.
All of these fears can be aggravated right now with unemployment so high due to the pandemic. Those who are employed feel so fortunate to have those jobs they don’t want to risk losing them. But a culture of fear is cyclical and builds upon itself. The fewer people who speak up about issues, the fewer who feel that they can. On the reverse end, when someone does take a stance on unfair treatment in the workplace, other victims can feel empowered to come forward. We spoke with Sarah Morgan, the Chief Excellence Officer of BuzzARooney LLC, a consulting boutique that helps startups and small businesses create inclusive, equitable workplace cultures. Morgan shed light on some workplace issues that employees should speak up about more.
About what issues do people remain silent?
“People remain quiet for too long about escalating microaggressions and about sexual harassment. When employees bring these kinds of issues to my attention in HR, it has usually been happening for months before I am alerted. The complainant fears they will not be believed, that they will be retaliated against, and/or lose their job for complaining.” Confirming those fears is the fact that 49 percent of claims are considered retaliation (by the way, 34 percent pertain to race.)