How to be a Good Non-Discriminating Small-Business Employer - dummies

How to be a Good Non-Discriminating Small-Business Employer

By Paul Maguire

Everyone seems to be claiming discrimination, harassment and bullying at work these days. The phrase bullying is frequently used to describe behaviour that intimidates, humiliates or otherwise injures a person physically or mentally.

The claims of bullying may be genuine or they may be cute methods to avoid accountability for poor work performance. Either way, Australia now has more laws on the topic of workplace bullying than any country in the world.

Workplace bullying is a bit like harassment and discrimination in that its antecedents are in human conflicts. If you force a group of people to cohabitate for eight hours, five days a week each year then you’re bound to have conflicts.

Your task is to educate staff in your small business on the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, identify the early signs of conflict, act swiftly to resolve problems, and be the very model of a good employer. Sounds easy, right?

Here are a few tips on how to be a good non-discriminating employer:

  • Live your values: The single most important thing that you can do to prevent bad behaviour is to model good behaviour. Respect, honesty, politeness, empathy and diligence are not just words on a mission statement and when you live those values you can expect others to do so as well.

  • Understand the underlying causes of conflict: Treat the cause and not the symptoms of conflict and you will resolve problems affecting the harmony in your business. Personality clashes, inequitable treatment, unfulfilled expectations, bad behaviour, and competition for attention, can contribute to conflict between staff.

  • It’s not always what you say but what you do: Speaking about personal differences, disabilities and personal characteristics is not of itself grounds for discrimination when it shows an interest in the person, is done respectfully and relates to the work that staff are expected to perform. Prejudicing a person’s employment because of personal attributes is usually unlawful and just wrong.

  • Don’t be afraid to give someone a go: Just because a person has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t do the job. A person that overcomes life’s hurdles just might have the resilience, creativity and determination that you need in your business. A few practical adjustments to the work environment may be a really good investment.