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Four ways to manage racism in the workplace

by , 19 February 2013
Last month, ANC spokesperson Jesse Duarte urged South Africans to change the language used on issues of racism. 'We have gone from apartheid to the new South Africa, and there are still underlying issues when it comes to racism. Issues we try to sweep under the carpet, rather than address,' Duarte is quoted as saying by Times Live. And those changes need to start at home, at school and in the workplace. Here are seven ways you can deal with racism in your office.

'Racism in the workplace is often covert in nature and systematically undermines targeted employees over a period. This undermines their confidence and ultimately their ability to perform,' writes employment lawyer Susan Stelzner in The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
'Irrespective of the size of your business, you must not allow racism of any form in your workplace. It's not tolerated under any circumstances by our Constitution, various acts of parliament (such as the EEA) and our courts view it very seriously,' says Stelzner.
That's why it's so important to take steps to prevent racism – it keeps all employees feeling safe, builds a positive work environment and ensures that your company's productivity isn't affected, explains an article on smallbusiness.chron.com.
Here's what you can do to keep racism under control before it becomes a major problem
The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service outlines the following four things you can do to avoid racism in the workplace:
1. Adopt a zero-tolerance approach
Send out a strong message to employees that you won't tolerate racism and false accusations of racism. Actively encourage victims of racism to speak openly about it to management so you can investigate racism claims.
2. Investigate any incident immediately
If an incident of racism occurs in your workplace, you must investigate it immediately! Once you have, you must deal with it in line with your disciplinary or grievance procedure.
3. Have sound policies and procedures
Ensure you have active policies and procedures in place aimed at combating racism in the workplace. These policies and procedures should incorporate action plans detailing the measures you'll undertake to provide a non-discriminatory workplace. Ensure employees sign your company's anti-racism policies so they know the risks of racist behaviour in your company.
4. Foster an organisational culture that doesn't tolerate racism
Promote an organisational culture that accommodates differences and cultural diversity. This will mark your commitment to a zero-tolerance policy on racism in the workplace.
'It doesn't pay to ignore racism in the workplace', warns Stelzner. 'The Labour Court has taken these matters very seriously and ruled that workplace racism is a dismissible offence.'
Don't let your employees become a victim of racism; put an anti-racism plan in place today.

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