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Don't turn a blind eye on racism in the workplace: Manage it using these three tips...

by , 21 June 2013
A KZN father is suing his son's school cricket coach for R2.1 million for alleged racism. The father claims Dave Karlsen, who coaches the first team at Pietermaritzburg's St Charles College, deliberately hampered his son's cricket career by not letting him captain any side from the time he was under 15 because Karlsen was 'uncomfortable with an Indian boy as captain', Ndtv.com reports. The school has denied racism played a role in the selection of players. With the many diverse cultures in your workplace, it's possible you could find yourself in a similar situation. And turning a blind eye to racism in your company could mean you're just as guilty. Read on to find out how to manage issues of racism in your company to improve and promote diversity in your workplace.

Whether it happens socially or in the work environment, racism is unacceptable.

So don't allow racism of any form in your workplace. The Labour Court takes these matters seriously and has ruled that workplace racism is a dismissible offence.

'Your company must promote an organisational culture that accommodates differences and cultural diversity. This alone indicates that your company is committed to a zero tolerance policy on racism in the workplace,' says The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

It's important that you knock out any institutionalised racist practices that linger in your company. You can do this by analysing and identifying racist practices your company may be involved in without fully realising it.

Three ways to manage racism in your workplace

#1: Have a zero tolerance policy to racism

Send out a strong message to employees at all levels of your organisation, that racism won't be tolerated. Encourage open communication between the various reporting lines to enable employees who're the victims of racism to speak openly about it to management. Get employees to sign a policy of non discrimination.

#2: Ensure your policies and procedures are aimed at eradicating racism

The policies and procedures in your company must be aimed at combating racism in the workplace. They must send out a clear message of equality and make it clear that racism won't be tolerated. Your policies should state that your company is committed to eradicating racism in the workplace.

It's also important that you review these policies regularly and update them to ensure they're in line with the law. But most importantly, ensure your policies are accessible to all employees within your workplace, irrespective of any employee's particular race.

#3: Analyse each situation based on the facts of the case

Look at the situation objectively to determine whether it's actually a case of racism or simply a misinterpretation of the situation. 'Racial slurs and other obvious forms of racism aren't likely to be misinterpreted. And more subtle comments may not have the racist intention that they appear to have. Ask for a clarification if you aren't sure whether a comment or action was meant to be racist or not,' says the Loose Leaf.

Knowing how to manage racism in the workplace will ensure you eradicate it completely. But most importantly, it'll ensure you're not guilty of turning a blind eye.

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