One of the nastiest things you can see in business is discrimination. A place that is supposed to provide a person with a livelihood, that’s supposed to pay the bills, can also be a home to harassment.
And yet, bullying happens even in the most professional settings. It can manifest itself in the form of misogyny, racism, religious intolerance, homophobia, or just pure childish malice and spite.
However, it can also take the form of unconscious bias, of subtle things a person is not even aware he or she does. No matter what it’s origin or form may be, it’s always unacceptable.
And so, there are a couple of ways discrimination and bullying can rear its ugly head. Read on below — how to recognize them and what to do about them.
A. Discrimination based on gender
This is probably the most obvious and blatant one. A remnant of the fifties, some people fool themselves into thinking they’re Don Draper. This form essentially boils down to people thinking women are inferior to men, and that they simply can’t do the work a man can. While this may be questionable in any physically labor-intensive job, it has no excuse or justification anywhere else.
People in STEM fields are particularly guilty of this, believing that women just “aren’t good at math”. However, sometimes discrimination is a bit more subtle. As we have already mentioned, unconscious bias can be just as bad as regular bias. These can take the form of condescension at best. At worst, you get women not being promoted, even though their performance at the workplace was just as good as male performance.
B. Sexual harassment
A common type of harassment presents itself as sexual harassment. It boils down to the objectification of a person, of lowering them down to just being an object of sexual lust. This at best presents itself as unsolicited vulgar comments and flirting. At worst…well, you get the idea.
While this one is a no-brainer as well, we need to point out one thing. Men can be victims of sexual harassment too. Unfortunately, it very often goes unreported, both due to societal pressures and shame.
C. Discrimination based on race, sexuality, and religion
Racism, homophobia, transphobia, religious intolerance – all these can show up at the workplace. They can lead to a person losing out on a job because of it. It can lead to harassment and insulting comments and jokes. In this day and age, everybody has a right to his or her own religion. Furthermore, everybody has a right to love whomever they want. And we all like to think that racism is a thing of the past, but that is very evidently not the case.
So what to do?
Now that we have listed the most common types of discrimination, it’s time to actually give you some advice on what to do.
1. Contact a lawyer
Before going to HR, think about getting a lawyer. Know that the line between slander and self-defense is very thin. A lawyer can advise you of what you can do, and how to approach the whole situation. If needed, they can protect you in court. You can always contact a professional small business lawyer to help you out fighting against a company that doesn’t have your back.
2. Speak with the higher ups
First of all, think long and hard about whether you can bring this to upper management. If a coworker or lower manager harasses or bullies you in any way, see if you can inform the boss. He or she actually has the power to do something about this. An employer will certainly not tolerate reprehensible behavior like that at his company. He or she may even have a somewhat less positive motive – namely, keeping their company’s reputation intact. It will get the job done nonetheless though.
3. Speak with HR
There are times when you should go to HR, and times you’re just wasting their time with some petty personal issue. Reporting discrimination is never petty. Know your rights completely, re-read your contract, check with the company’s statute and code of conduct. Then go to HR and have the matter settled there.
Any type of harassment should never be tolerated, in or outside the workplace. That’s why you should do everything in your power to make it right. We know this may not be easy, but we at least hope that this article will help you figure out what’s happening to you