Some employees think your training materials are discriminatory and take you to court. Think that's bad? What if they put up the offending extracts online, and you end up on the front page of BuzzFeed
, one of the world's most popular sites? Suddenly, all your customers can see your dirty laundry!
That's exactly what happened to Target
, an American supermarket chain that included some dubious advice for supervising Latino workers in one of their employee handbooks.
Now, this may seem like an obvious case of discrimination. But are you 100% sure your policies and procedures are discrimination-free?
Labour Law for Managers
explains how to ensure every one of your policies is discrimination-free…
Revise all your policies for discrimination, not just the ones employees come face to face with!
Even though different industries have different confidentiality needs, you should (at least in theory) be okay with reading out your policies in front of all your workers. If something makes you uneasy, change it.
It seems that the Target supervisors thought it was okay to use discriminatory language because not all employees would see that training manual. Don't make the same mistake!
Easy discrimination hack: Focus on the requirements of the job, not on the individual qualities of employees
Let's look at this example:
training manual said 'Hispanics, in general, tend to be very loyal to those whom they have grown to trust. As a supervisor/employer, if you make it a point to treat your Hispanic team members with dignity and respect, they are very likely to desire work for you.'
The truth is that the specific mention of the employees' race was unnecessary. All that the manual needed to say was 'Make it a point to treat all your team members with dignity and respect, and this will foster loyalty and motivation in your team.'
Similarly, saying in your recruitment procedure (or even in a job advertisement) that you'll only hire people under the age of 26 for a certain position because the job is physically demanding is discrimination. There are plenty of 25-year-olds who are weak as kittens, and plenty of 27 year olds who are strong as oxen!
Mentioning the age specifically was not necessary, focus on the requirements of the job
and simply state that the job is physically demanding and is therefore only open to strong, active applicants.
Keeping these tips in mind will help you avoid a Target
disaster for years to come!