Op-Ed

Discrimination in the workplace

Discrimination can happen to many kinds of people, anywhere in the world and can come in many forms. Sometimes resolving these kind of issues can be challenging, depending on the country you live in, and the civil rights of people in that particular country. There is often never a straightforward action to resolving this issues, and some people even take legal action against those who are harassing or discriminating against them. Here is some information about different kinds of workplace discrimination, and the different forms it can take.

Only through activism, sharing information, and the LGBT community being present in society, can harassment and discrimination be eradicated in the workplace. Being present and active helps educate people, and enlighten them too.

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LGBT people are still discriminated against in the workplace, in varying degrees, all across the world. It can come in various forms and discrimination can affect those involved in so many ways. Depending on the civil rights of each context, there can be some solutions, or some positive actions that you can take to ensure you are protected in the workplace. Harassment and discrimination can still arise, even in the most liberal contexts. There can be a some solutions to these kind of disruptive behaviors, and you can even hire professionals to fight your corner with you.

Harassment is a form of discrimination, and they are both manifest themselves in similar way. This can range from unwanted attention, whether this is verbally or physically. It can also come from anyone involved in the workplace, from clients, managers, supervisor, or colleagues, and this is still classed and should be seen as discriminatory behavior.

There are people all over the world, fighting your corner, and who are actively opposing ignorance and discrimination. Why not promote some change in your local area? Education is one of the solutions to harassment and discrimination.

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The lack of protection because of laws and civil right can be challenging in combating discriminatory behavior, and getting the persecutors to be held responsibility. If the law is not on your side there is always the option of hiring a professional to take further action. It is in the ACAS code of practice to help anyone who is facing this kind of behavior in the workplace.

Being closeted at work is also an issue for many people too. Passing is often easier than facing the harassment that might arise from coming out. This of course causes unnecessary stress for the individual, and can put stress on families and relationships out of work too. Many talented LGBT individuals often leave certain workplaces because they feel unwelcome, even though they are excelling.

Transgender individuals, by far, experience the most discrimination and harassment. This is more than any other minority. In the US, 90% of people that identify as transgender have experienced discrimination in the workplace, which is a staggering figure. This shows just how far we are yet to come. Job interviews as well prove difficult and discriminatory actions can often be made, so you can’t even get your foot in the door.

Being a woman also has it’s difficulties, and being a lesbian or transgender woman, can mean you experience discrimination in many forms. Misogynistic language and ideas are prevalent in many countries, and even in developed countries, there can still be differences in pay. Belittling or using inappropriate language is common in many workplaces, and something women have to deal with on a daily basis.

Sexual harassment is also prevalent. This can range from physically touching someone when it is not wanted, to verbal harassment, or insistence on spending time with someone outside of work, and continuing to exhibit this kind of behavior. This can make women feel unsafe and unwelcome, and feel at risk too.

Harassment can come in many forms against so many kinds of people: LGBT, gender, age, race, nationality, ethnicity, skin color, mental or physical disability, and against people who are pregnant or who are parents. It is illegal to specify for “straight” or “non-pregnant” people, in job advertisements. This is the same for job interviews too, not giving someone a job opportunity because they are pregnant, is illegal.

Unfortunately education seems to be the only way to tackle discrimination in the long term. Short term solutions could range from reporting to a superior, or confronting the harasser yourself, or with a fellow colleague. Each of these methods can be risky and depend on so many factors, such as if their manager will also discriminate against them, or if this might escalate the behavior. There is no easy solution, and sometimes taking legal action can be necessary if harassment and discriminatory behavior continues to be an issue at work.

Education is the best way to tackle these kind of attitudes and opinions that persecute and make anyone feel unwelcome in the place where they work. This can range from seminars or training days held at your place of work, to educate and give some examples of what is classed as harassment and discrimination. Mock question sheets, leaflets, or even emails can be sent out to companies, to try and educate people, and curb unwanted behavior. Only with proactive education, and firm actions against any kind of homophobic, transphobic, or misogynistic behavior or actions.

It is the responsibility of managers and supervisors for the wellbeing, protection and safety of all of their members of staff. Educating young people at school and openly talking about LGBT issues and the difficulties that the community have faced in the past, and in the present, is the best long term solution. Until this happens however, ignorance will still be prevalent throughout the world. Educating the people around you, your children and family, no matter what your background or sexuality, will help out everyone.

It is these small decisions and conversations, that will have a positive effect on those around you, your own workplace, and hopefully other workplaces too. Being mindful of yourself and others can only lead to less conflict, acceptance and a better work environment for everyone.

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