Creating a safe, welcoming workplace is just as important a priority for managers as increasing productivity and driving results. After all, if your employees are your greatest asset, why wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to make them feel comfortable, safe and appreciated?
Recent diversity efforts have taken great pains to be as extensive and exhaustive as possible. However, despite good intentions, constantly expanding your anti-harassment policies and diversity efforts to ever-increasing levels of complexity may not yield the best results.
Company guidelines pertaining to diversity and inclusion exist to create a welcoming office environment to every employee regardless of background. Pushing for greater diversity isn’t about restricting things you can’t do, but rather broadening to spectrum of backgrounds, languages, religions and cultures that are welcome in your workplace.
Unfortunately, overly complicated wording can get in the way of this goal. As one writer told the Society for Human Resource Management, the goal for any diversity effort is consistency and simplicity. Every employee should be able to produce the same general understanding of what diversity means to the organization if asked. The source indicated that diversity shouldn’t be about assimilating everyone into your office culture, but instead should focus on creating a safe space for your workers to be their authentic selves regardless of background.
Many business owners and HR professionals have worked hard to expand their anti-harassment policies to cover as many different considerations as possible, from race to religion to gender identity. Because of the sensitive nature of these policies, and of harassment investigations in general, the best strategy is to broaden your bases as much as possible, while keeping in mind specific problem areas.
For example, Philadelphia attorney Jonathan Segal told the Society for Human Resource Management that 50 percent of harassment claims involve sexual harassment, while the other 50 percent are split between racial, religious and disability harassment.
With this in mind, develop your policies to specifically address these concerns by outlining examples of behaviors that are not appropriate for the workplace. This is important because oftentimes, harassing comments aren’t intended as such. Your employees should know to be considerate of their coworkers’ individual backgrounds, and how that may affect their interpretations of various comments or actions.
It’s also important to distinguish between behaviors that are illegal and those that are not unlawful but are still deemed inappropriate or unacceptable in the workplace. HR outsourcing companies can work with small businesses to help guide them through the process of establishing a comprehensive anti-harassment policy.