In order for a work place to be safe from discrimination and harassment a definitive plan of action must be put in place. There are several steps that must be taken in order to improve the workplace. There are a few things that can be done right away and a few things that can be enacted over time. These must be done, in order to make the workplace a better place to spend time. People can not be productive if they are constantly worried about bring in a hostile environment.
To begin with, stop the denial. If companies are not willing to understand that these things exist, even in their workplaces, people will never feel comfortable there. There are negative practices that exist in todays world. Even in the best of companies. These practices are deeply ingrained in the corporate society. The behaviors of discrimination and harassment in hiring, promotions, and work assignments are illegal and counterproductive. It must be a recognized problem so it can be dealt with. This acknowledge must come from all levels, not just higher management, but from every management level. It has to be a shift from top to bottom.
The next step is to remove the "Diversity Training" title. There has been a fair amount of backlash to this kind of forced training. Participants either will not attend or will not participate. The environment needs to be changes so it is not a reactionary one. People do not react well to being forced to change. They do want to have a better work place but the method must not be abrasive to anyone involved.
The company must realize that it is acceptable for them to require their employees to exhibit acceptable behavior in the work place, but that it is not reasonable to require them those same employees to change their values or beliefs. The employer must work on changing the behavior during work hours not changing the whole person, that is not their job. The employees whole life is not dedicated to the companies, so the company can not expect them to change. What is can expect is that the employee will show digression with their acts.
Once the above steps are taken care of, the employer must commit to a plan of action to completely remove the discrimination and harassment. There are a few important points that can be made about that. First, adopt and enforce a zero tolerance policy. Do not allow any of this activity to take place within the workplace. Second develop and publish a set of unactable workplace behavior standards. Make sure that each and every employee is aware of what is considered unacceptable behavior. Lastly, provide a training program with the topic of workplace relationship skills. Do not let this become "Diversity Training" which has a very negative connotation. If a hard line is drawn then the employees will know that they can not get away with being in violation of the law without some ramifications.
It is not an easy road to clean up a workplace, but it is important to make sure that the office is a nicer, friendlier, more productive place. This change must take place, society can not allow these kinds of practices to occur.
Produced as part of a class assignment in CS 3604, Department of Computer Science, Group 5: Ryan Wetherill, Brian Jaeger, Scott Mayberry, Steve Thompson, Fall 1997. Edited and modified by J.A.N. Lee, April 1998.