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The Miss America racism row and how it affects your workplace

by , 19 September 2013
Earlier this week, the Miss America pageant crowned its first winner from an Indian background. But the move has sparked a flood of racist criticism on social media. Most of the racist remarks question why the pageant was won by someone who isn't American. According to reports, Nina Davuluri, the newly crowned Miss America has brushed aside the negative comments. If you think racism only rears its ugly head in pageants you're wrong. Racism in the workplace is a big issue for employers. Here are seven simple ways you can use to curb racism in your workplace.

It's not just beauty pageants where the racism claws come out. A racism case involving Old Mutual (SATAWU on behalf of Xolile Finca v Old Mutual and Jenny Burger), one of South Africa's largest listed financial services providers received so much media attention that it was even reported overseas.

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service explains that in that case, the Labour Court found that if you fail to take steps to protect your employees against racism, you face the risk of having a punitive compensation or damages award made against you.

This is what Old Mutual found out to its detriment.

Since prevention is better than cure, take these steps to prevent racism in your company.

Use these seven steps to prevent racism in your workplace

#1: Have a policy in place that deals with racial harassment and sets out a procedure that must be followed if racism takes place.

You could make it part of your sexual harassment policy by expanding that policy to deal with racism as well.

#2: Include training on your policy in induction programmes for new employees.

#3: Have regular training and awareness sessions for all your staff – again you can deal with racism when you deal with sexual harassment as both are equally unacceptable in the workplace.

#4: Make sure you have people in your workplace who can offer advice and assistance to employees who may be subjected to racism.

#5: Make sure all employees know that if they know of or observe racism they must report it to management so you can deal with it.

#6: Have a procedure in place so everyone knows what to do if racism does happen.

#7: Make sure your suppliers and other parties that do business with you are aware of your policy against racism and they are bound to comply with your policy. (You can do this by referring to your policy in your contracts with third parties.)

Well there you have it. Make sure you prevent racism before it affects your business.

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