Time to Get a Grip on Discrimination and Harassment

Right now, you’re probably overloaded and overwhelmed by the incidents of workplace sexual discrimination and harassment being reported in the media. The stories reported have raised some ugly realities and have hopefully caused many employers to take a step back to analyse their organisational culture, assess their own workplace risks, and review the policies and procedures in place to both minimise risks and enable incidents to be safely reported.

The thing is it’s not only sexual discrimination and harassment that we need to be aware of. As an employer, you have a duty to protect the safety and welfare of all your workers from being treated less favourably than others in your workplace.

That means ensuring there is no discrimination – whether direct or indirect – based on gender as well as race, age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, political belief or activity, union membership or activity, impairment or disability, or obligations as a parent.

To be clear, direct discrimination means a person or group can’t be treated differently from others. Indirect discrimination is a bit more complex – it’s when a rule or requirement that is the same for everyone unfairly affects people who have one of the characteristics protected by law. For example, you can’t stop ‘everyone with diabetes’ from participating in an role/job for ‘safety reasons’, because this will indirectly discriminate against individuals whose diabetes is controlled and could therefore participate safely.  This would be categorised as disability discrimination.​

To reduce the risk of discrimination in the workplace:

  • educate all your workers about discrimination;
  • encourage workers to respect each other’s differences;
  • respond to any evidence or complaint of inappropriate behaviour;
  • deal with any complaints of discrimination promptly and confidentially;
  • develop a workplace policy that prohibits discrimination;
  • train supervisors and managers on how to respond to discrimination in the workplace;
  • make sure the workplace policy is properly enforced; and
  • review the policy regularly to ensure that its effectiveness is maintained.

If you don’t already have a whistleblower policy in place, consider doing so now. As of 1 January 2020, public companies, large proprietary companies, and corporate trustees of APRA-regulated superannuation entities have been required to have a whistleblower policy in place that enables staff members to safely and confidently report corporate whistleblowing, sexual harassment and bullying. You can find out more about why and how to develop a whistleblower policy here.


Need help to make change? Contact the Ayers Group

Creating a healthy workplace culture and implementing processes and policies to protect your staff is challenging and time consuming.

At the Ayers Group, we’re here to help by taking care of your administrative obligations including your payroll and contractor management. Talk to an expert from the Ayers Group today to find out more about how we can help you.