Everyone is concerned about compliance. What some managers fail to realize is that diversity and respect in the workplace are also compliance issues. Indeed, if you want to ensure you’re in full compliance, it is important to also take diversity issues into account. From taking steps to prevent and address sexual and racial harassment to ensuring everyone in your workplace feels included whatever their gender identity, diversity and compliance go hand in hand.
Four Links Between Diversity & Compliance
As stated by the U.S. Department of Labor: “For federal contractors and subcontractors, affirmative action must be taken by covered employers to recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans. Affirmative actions include training programs, outreach efforts, and other positive steps. These procedures should be incorporated into the company’s written personnel policies. Employers with written affirmative action programs must implement them, keep them on file and update them annually.” To get started, ask yourself if you’re aware of how affirmative action is being upheld in your workplace. Second, ask yourself if your workplace is actually complying with the tenets of affirmative action. If you have any doubts, your organization may not be in compliance.
Age discrimination is a growing issue in the workplace. Indeed, especially in a tech-focused work environment, there is increasingly a bias against the old and in favor of the young. In the 1970s, Congress passed the Age Discrimination Act. The law offers at least some employment protections to workers who are over the age of forty and who work for an employer with twenty or more employees. Is your organization in compliance with ADEA? Have you seen incidents of older workers being forced to retire due to age discrimination, or not being hired because they appear to not fit the job based on their age alone?
People with disabilities and people who identify as Deaf face many obstacles in the workplace. From discrimination during hiring to buildings that are designed to keep them out or make their day-to-day work experience more challenging, we have yet to arrive in a society where the playing field is even for all players. The American with Disabilities Act protects the rights of people with disabilities, and this extends to the workplace. As stated on the Department of Labor home page, “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government’ programs and services. As it relates to employment, Title I of the ADA protects the rights of both employees and job seekers. The ADA also establishes requirements for telecommunications relay services. Title IV, which is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), also requires closed captioning of federally funded public service announcements.”
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex.” The Commission also emphasizes, “Harassment can include ‘sexual harassment’ or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature,” but “Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature” since it may also include “offensive remarks about a person’s sex.” Of course, determining what this means is easier said that done. The law does not prohibit teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents of an unserious nature, but as the Commission notes, “harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).” In the age of MeToo, awareness about sexual harassment is at an all-time high. What’s clear, however, is that even after decades of attempts to quell sexual harassment in the workplace, it is still a problem. Is your workplace in compliance?
To learn more, explore eLeap’s training resource on diversity and legal compliance.