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Professional Women, Diversity

A Harassment-Free Workplace: Where Social Justice Meets The Bottom Line

A Harassment-Free Workplace: Where Social Justice Meets The Bottom Line

6/15/2021 4:39:00 PM

A Harassment-Free Workplace: Where Social Justice Meets The Bottom Line

Establishing a civil, respectful, and inclusive workplace culture and environment serves twin purposes: healthy employees and a healthy bottom line. Neither needs to come at the expense of the other.

 Yes, people need to learn how to conduct themselves in the workplace. Language matters, in person, in emails, and on Zoom.What you may call a “joke” is a microagression; words have as much impact as a punch. We teach children that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” but that simply is not true. 

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Engage in the hard conversations about civility and culture, the –isms (racism, sexism, ageism, and ableism, to name a few), and community.These are not one-and-done programs. We work together every day, and every day requires an awareness of our workplace culture and environment – for us and our businesses.

And yes, you do need policies and procedures that include human resources responsive to employee concerns (management has its own power and voice). Separately acknowledge the intersection of anti-harassment policies with your DEI program to not only bring diverse thoughts, voices, and experiences to the table, but ensure that the environment dignifies their presence and respects and encourages their involvement in the workplace.

Importantly, check in with employees to make sure it works. Policies and procedures mean little to organizational culture change (and relatedly, profitability) if their only purpose is to paper the file for the lawyers.Will this fix your workplace harassment overnight? No, a magic wand doesn’t exist to transform Cinderella’s disdainful stepmother and stepsisters into nurturing managers and executives. It will take time.

Shifting the culture will have at least three tangible effects:Improved employee engagement. If your employees arrive at work without dreading the comments or actions of the boss, of colleagues, or of clients, attendance increases and mindset changes. Focus improves and so does productivity.

Improved financial health. With improved employee engagement, profits increase. Happier employees lead to more productive employees, and productivity increases profitability.Decreased focus on legal liability. Legal liability always remains a consideration in workplace actions. The law won’t magically disappear if you change your approach to employee contentedness. If done right, though, it may lead to lesser liabilities.

It’s a win-win: Employees treated with respect and dignity result in a more profitable business. Read more: ForbesWomen »

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