Diversity in the Workplace: How To Handle Employment Discrimination

October 25, 2012  |  

Experts say it’s because the job market is so tight. That’s why the number of cases of job discrimination is up.  According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency responsible for investigating employment discrimination charges, the number of complaints from workers and job seekers hit an all-time high last year.

During the 2001 fiscal year, nearly 100,000 charges from citizens were made, “the most logged in a single year in the agency’s 46-year history,” reported The Huffington Post.  “The agency also managed to obtain a historic amount of monetary relief for alleged victims of job discrimination — $365 million, the most on record.”

So what to do if you find that you have been discriminated against because of your race, age, sex, sexual orientation? We asked workplace diversity expert Janet Crenshaw Smith, president of the Ivy Planning Group. LLC. “Contrary to popular belief, discrimination is alive and well in 2012.  However, today discrimination and bias is much more likely to show up in subtle ways versus overt ways,” she says.

    • Alert the higher-ups at your company:  “The corporate leaders that I work with are intolerant of discrimination.  They want to know if it is happening in their companies.  So I do believe that employees should make their companies aware when they are experiencing it,” Smith says. “The test of whether you should leave a company is how the company reacts when you raise the issue.  The company should be fair to all parties involved, and it also should not retaliate against you for raising the issue.”
      • Help change your firm’s corporate culture. “You can help to change the corporate culture at your job by speaking up, and speaking for diversity and inclusion. You start by showing the value of diversity and inclusion,” she explains. “You can demonstrate the value of difference by sharing your diverse network – in terms of employee referrals and customers.  You can open the eyes of your colleagues by letting them know the subtle ways they exclude – little things, micro-triggers – they probably don’t even know what they don’t know. Speak up. It helps you, your team and the culture.”


      • Make the complain official. If you have complained to the heads of your company or potential employer and the issue has not been addressed, file a complaint with the EEOC.


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