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Facing Discrimination At Work? How to Tell & What to Do

Facing Discrimination At Work? How to Tell & What to Do

Are you familiar with the glass ceiling? It’s a term used to describe the obstacles that many women and members of minority groups face when trying to advance in their careers or professions. It’s no secret that historically, women as a whole have earned less, on average, than their male counterparts. No matter how much progress we have made in terms of equality in recent years, that fact has not changed.

However, what a lot of people may not know is that women are at risk of coming face-to-face with a lot more than just career advancement hurdles. Women are supposed to be protected by the U.S. Employment Equal Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal laws to protect women against gender-based workplace discrimination. But, we don’t live in a perfect world, and not all acts of discrimination are reported or even noticed. So, how can you tell if you’re facing discrimination at work?

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Discrimination Against Women In The Workplace

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to discrimination at work. Generally speaking, workplace discrimination typically occurs by way of sexual harassment, withholding promotions or bonuses, disallowing women from taking part in training opportunities or other work-related activities, and more.

Sexual Harassment At Work

According to the American Association of University Women, sexual harassment, in its most general form, is described as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” That includes bribes for sexual activity, suggestive jokes, “pervasive displays of materials with sexually illicit or graphic content,” and more. Sexual harassment against a female isn’t always perpetrated by a male employer, as women can sexually harass other women.

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As noted by the AAUW, a one-time occurrence of sexual conduct or a single remark is generally not enough to create what’s known as a hostile environment. To argue that a woman is being sexually harassed and therefore is working in a hostile environment, proof of a pattern of offensive behaviors is typically required. However, just one severe incident of harassment can potentially be enough to qualify as a violation. The more severe the harassment is, the less proof is needed, especially if the harassment is physical.

Withholding Promotions Or Bonuses

Particularly in a workforce where physical ability plays a role in daily tasks, women can potentially get snubbed for a promotion for a job that requires physical strength. It can be assumed that, because she’s a woman, she’s not physically capable of successfully completing the job. This is another form of discrimination because it cannot be automatically assumed the job cannot be completed based on gender without allowing the woman equal opportunity to prove her physical abilities.

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Other

Out of fear of missing out on a promotion or bonus, a woman working for the government or for a large company might feel she has to hide a pregnancy because of the 12 weeks’ maternity leave women in these jobs are allowed under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Additionally, women may avoid telling potential employers about their desire to have children for the same reason. There have also been situations in which a female faces discrimination because of her physical appearance. Some potential employers may hire women they personally find more attractive, arguing that those women are “likely to bring in more sales,” according to Lisa Finn, a writer for Our Everyday Life. On the other hand, an attractive female may not get hired because the employer is worried about how men in the workplace would react to her.

Despite the glass ceiling mentioned before, a woman with the same job title as a man, with the same seniority and responsibilities, should be paid equally. Otherwise, she’s being discriminated against. Employers found to be guilty of such discrimination can be sued under The Equal Pay Act of 1963. Consequences for the employer might include fines and the requirement to pay back lost wages.

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What Can You Do?

If you believe you are the victim or have been the victim of workplace discrimination, you should keep track of every case in which you felt you were being discriminated against. You should contact your employer’s human resources representative and inform them of the issue. You can also file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but if they don’t find any proof of discrimination, the case will be closed. You then have 90 days to file your own lawsuit. There are several law firms that specialize in workplace discrimination and EEOC, such as Hutchison & Stoy, the “Warriors for Justice.”

Featured photo credit: salty_soul/Flickr via flickr.com

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Emily Hayden

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Published on November 19, 2018

10 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships and Work as a Team

10 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships and Work as a Team

Behind the corporate veil, the actual members who work towards achieving the company goals are the ultimate assets.

It is very important for every team member to maintain focused goals on a professional front, at their individual level and at the organizational level. With even the slightest discord between two employees, the entire team might suffer and have to adjust with the downsize in organizational success that they realize ultimately.

As humans, each and every employee is bound to have different opinion and feel inclined to meet their personal goals, just as much as they meet the goals of their company. Hence, it is essential that work relationships among different employees are friendly and cordial. This will help the fellow team members to work together as an efficient team. The ultimate outcome of which will be a capable work force, poised to gather the gains of organizational success.

Let us take a look at some of the ways to build positive work relationships and help employees work together as a team:

1. Respect Your Peer’s Time

No matter which specific domain you work in or in which your organization deals in, each arena entails performance of various jobs by the employees. Within this organization, there are a set of cumulative jobs which ought to be performed at a specific pace, and within a set period of time.

Sometimes, there might also be a sequence to the performance of actions and processes, so that the next process in the sequence can be performed. Some procedures are dependent upon the performance of an action by a certain member of the team, so that the other members can carry out the subsequent steps in the sequence. The ultimate target with this planning is that the work must be completed on time and there should be no delay in meeting the deadlines which have been set for the purpose.

Thus, in situations where you are placed in a role where other people are affected by your actions or performance, it is essential that you respect their time and effort, and ensure that the ball is not pent up in your court.

At the same time, remember that you should make yourself available for other people, should they require your help. Ultimately, your aim must be focused at ensuring that work is not pending and you get it done like experts doing the work.

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2. Ensure that You Are Cautious With Social Media

With the ongoing trend in the digital space, it is easy to feel compelled and drawn towards the idea of connecting with your peers and colleagues on the social media. Although there is not much harm in the practice, it is essential to observe caution while making these connections.

The simple reason behind this is that one wrong move can dampen your reputation or else, cause your peers to gather an incorrect impression about you.

It makes sense to ensure what the social media policy of your organization is before treading on this path. If such policies restrict the association of fellow employees, then you must respect them.

3. Communication is the Key

Communication is essentially one of the most vital keys which impact how your relationships with peers and other employees are. The role of effective communication cannot be stressed enough. It is vital in attaining the goals of working together in an organization and carrying out the jobs which will help in attaining success.

However, there is a very big danger with communication. As part of the human nature, it is easy to assume that the person ahead of us has understood what we intend to say. This might not be true at all times.

Therefore, taking feedback is important. This will help you understand if your message has been understood in the intended manner. If the message has not reached the intended party as expected, corrective actions can be taken at the same time.

Poor communication has the disadvantage of adding stress and distrust among fellow employees. It can sometimes causes crucial message failed to be delivered, leading to organizational turbulence, after which the blame game is hard to end.

In order to avoid the confusion and misunderstanding, communicate through a formal chain of command and follow formal mode of communication. Thus, communicating through mails or any other formal channel of communication would be the appropriate way to communicate in order to keep everything on record. This will help in referring to the communications later, should any dispute arise.

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4. Feedback is Important

As important as it is to take feedback from other people, it is also important to give your feedback. It is not just you who needs feedback but also your peers, in order to understand how well they are performing.

Your feedback will help other people progress in their work as much as it will help you progress in yours. Giving constructive feedback to your fellow peers at the right time and in the right state will help them advance, and ultimately lead to the success of the organization.

Your co-workers are bound to value your opinion and regard you in a positive light, if you provide them with the feedback that you require from them.

5. Make Use of Common Day Courtesies

Greeting a co-worker may sound like something so ordinary that you might wonder how it ended up on this list. However, as long as we are talking about ways to build a positive work environment, this one cannot be ignored.

You maybe surprised by bidding your co-workers simple common day courtesies! Being humble never hurt anyone, even if you do not exactly receive something in return.

Moreover, you must maintain eye contact with your fellow peers if you wish to gain their trust. This will provide the necessary infrastructure to build a capable team.

6. Get Into the Habit of Helping Yourself

While at work, accept that you are never going to receive the pampered behaviour which you do at home. No one at your workplace wakes up in the morning and makes themselves available at the  to hear you rant or constantly answer your questions. However, you might come up with situations nevertheless, which require you to ask for help or advice.

In this scenario, try to gather some information about your question, say, from the manuals which you receive upon joining, or from the web and equip yourself with some concrete information about the question which you may be ready to ask from someone else.

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At least when you approach someone with your doubts, along with the information gathered you’ve gathered, they will appreciate you for having made the effort to find out the answer.

This will make them feel important as well, answering your questions and helping you achieve your goals or tasks.

7. Treat Everyone as Equals

As a member of your team, it is not your job to point out who is better and who is not. Organizational politics can be a deadly game to play and as long as you are not a pro player, it is always risky to put yourself in a situation that will tarnish your image.

Gossiping is a strict no and spreading rumours is something you must avoid at all costs. Behave in a humble manner and even if someone tries to pull you into a conversation, avoid it in a respectful manner. Do everything you can to pull yourself out of that situation.

While talking behind people’s backs may sound like a refreshing fun activity initially, it will definitely come to bite you behind the back in the future.

Also, it will be wise to remember that no one in the organization is permanent. People change and so can their designation. It will be better for you to keep your personal views about someone in your head.

As long as you maintain the idea of treating everyone as equal, you will find yourself amidst a positive working environment at all times.

8. Acknowledge Your Mistakes

Mistakes happen and one of the more noteworthy facts about mistakes is that they can be made by anyone. The wisest thing you can do is to admit mistakes you’ve made.

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Playing the blame game will not only tarnish the name of your peers but also your own. It is always good to avoid getting into a tiff with others. Admit your mistakes and think of remedies or solutions to fix it. For a positive working relationship with your peers, you will need to adopt this quality.

9. Learn to Take on Responsibilities

Passing on your work load might be required when you are overburdened with work. However, when entrusted with a job, you should try to accept it as your responsibility and avoid putting it off to someone else.

Putting off work all the time will only end up creating a block between you and your peers, while they may start avoiding communicating with you at all. When you work in a team, your duty is to cooperate and build a positive working relationship with your teammates.

10. Engage in a Follow-up Routine

As a part of a team, it is necessary to express the fact that you care about your team members and you are also poised to achieve the targets set by your team.

Whenever you get the chance, do not hold back from asking your co-workers about your work performance and whether they think there’s anything you should improve.

Be prepared to be available to change and improve. This will go a long way in presenting yourself as a responsible and willing to learn employee.

The Bottom Line

These are just some of the ways in which fellow team members can build positive work relationships among themselves and work towards taking the organization to new heights. This attitude is  best to achieve overall success for the organization and create an environment of trust and honesty among the employees.

Featured photo credit: Mimi Thian via unsplash.com

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