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April 16 at 5:27 AMComments: 0 Faves: 1

Why Does Workplace Harassment Occur and What You Can Do to Address It

By Laura More Blogs by This Author

Unconscious bias can be a huge barrier to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Treating people with dignity and respect should be the norm in every workplace but this is not always the case.

The most recognised form of misbehaviour includes workplace harassment and bullying. Unconscious biases is just as serious, despite being comparatively subtle because it affects the psyche and our ability to make fair and unprejudiced choices.

Symmetras targeted, interactive unconscious bias online training programs help your team and leaders become more self-aware of their unconscious bias and how it alters their behaviour. Our tailor-made training programs are aligned with your organisations mission, vision and values.

Relationship between Unconscious Bias and Workplace Harassment

Although there has been a lot of guidance and advice regarding this issue, very few discussions have highlighted the link between unconscientious bias andharassment.

The impact of unconscious bias on harassment needs to be understood especially by employers looking to create a more inclusive workplace culture. Workplace harassment is defined as malicious, offensive and intimidating behaviour that is intended to undermine the recipient. A lot of workplace harassment incidents are considered as trivial and often dismissed as not being especially serious.

Instances of workplace harassment may include abuse of power, overbearing supervision, exclusion of team members and unfair treatment of employees.

Lets further examine some other areas where unconscious bias may affect decisions:

Allocation of Work: Do you subconsciously allocate important work (and therefore opportunities) to people you like? Does suitability/eligibility play a role in your choice?

Promotions: Do you exclude certain people from the promotions pipeline because of what you hear or think about them? Do you, as a manager, unconsciously support your friends for favoured roles?

Flexible Working Arrangements: Does your organisation only offer flexible working arrangements for women or can all employees have flexible working arrangements? Do you unconsciouslydiscriminate against people who take advantage of telecommuting work options (like excluding them from important meetings with clients)?

There can be a number of reasons why harassment or unwelcome behaviours occur in the workplace. A toxic cycle is created and perpetuated when people at the top covertly or overtly - favour other people who are exactly like themselves.

Typically speaking, male leaders support men for top jobs and an older manager will most likely favour an older employee over a younger one.

Unconscious bias training is a key intervention that pinpoints subconscious tendencies, favouritism and prejudicial thinking. Its the first step towards creating a more inclusive culture.

What Is the Best Way to Address Workplace Harassment?

As a proactive leader looking to build an inclusive workplace culture, you should have strong anti-harassment policies in the company manual. New hires should be informed about the zero-tolerance attitude towards misbehaviour and employees should be encouraged to come forward and speak about any concerns they may have, or any unfair treatment they are experiencing or witnessing.

Investigate harassment and bullying incidents promptly and ensure you provide equal opportunity to all involved parties to share their side. Avoid ignoring minor incidents and letting them slide. Above all, encourage your employees to maintain respect and courtesy regardless of backgrounds, ethnicities, gender, age, disability or any other difference.

Although these are practical prevention strategies, the most effective way to prevent harassment is to facilitate a fundamental shift in thinking.

Symmetras unconscious bias online training programs will help you define and appreciate the strong link between hidden biases, negative behaviours and business outcomes. Contact us today for more information regarding our tactical and relevant training programs in Australia.


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