Workplace Harassment’s Ripple Effect on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Employee Experience

November 16, 2023

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) photo

In the pursuit of creating diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces, organizations are increasingly recognizing the pivotal role played by fostering a culture free from harassment. In the complex tapestry of modern workplaces, the threads of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) are woven together to create vibrant and thriving professional communities. However, the specter of workplace harassment poses a significant threat to this delicate equilibrium. This issue not only harms employees on a personal level, but it casts a long and dark shadow over an organization’s commitment to DE&I.

At the height of social unrest, many organizations have committed themselves to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion among their employees. What steps can they take in order to do so? This blog aims to illuminate the profound and often underestimated impact of workplace harassment on an organization’s DE&I efforts. We will delve into the reasons why organizations must prioritize the tracking of harassments to safeguard the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, and how with Sodales for Enterprise Health, Safety and Employee Relations, organizations can mitigate systemic disparities and combat a culture of silence.

What is DE&I?

Diversity, equity and inclusion, or DE&I, are three components that represent a set of principles and practices that organizations adopt to create a workplace culture that values and respects the unique characteristics, perspectives, and contributions of every employee.

So, how does workplace harassment effect an organization’s DE&I? Workplace harassment can have far-reaching and detrimental effects on an organization’s DE&I efforts if it is not handled appropriately. Let’s take a deeper look at this.

Understanding workplace harassment.

Workplace harassment can manifest in many forms, including verbal, physical, emotional, or any other form of misconduct that creates an intimidating and hostile work environment; it transcends gender, race, and age, impacting employees of all backgrounds. Workplace harassment not only erodes the wellbeing of employees, but it undermines the core principles of DE&I within an organization. At the heart of any workplace are its employees, each contributing to the shared success of the organization, but when harassment is present, its dark shadow causes stress, anxiety, and a decline in mental health amongst all employees involved.

DE&I as a casualty of harassment.

Workplace harassment acts as a silent force, driving away employees, particularly those from marginalized groups, which contributes to a less diverse workforce. Organizations grappling with a reputation for harassments may find it challenging to attract diverse candidates, impeding efforts to build a truly representative talent pool. Workplace harassment often targets individuals based on their gender, race, or other personal characteristics, exacerbating existing inequities within an organization. It not only deters the attainment of DE&I efforts, but it can reverse any progress an organization has made previously. The erosion of employee morale and engagement can create a domino effect, making it challenging to sustain the momentum of DE&I initiatives.

Workhuman reports that 97% of HR leaders have indicated that their organization has made changes to improve their DE&I efforts, but, only 37% of these employees have actually seen these efforts being done, leading us to think that there is significant room for improvement. 

How Sodales can help safeguard your organization’s DE&I.

In the dynamic landscape of the modern workplace, fostering diversity, equity and inclusion should not be an aspiration, but a strategic imperative. A pivotal aspect of ensuring the success of DE&I initiatives is the establishment of a robust system for tracking harassments.

The importance of tracking harassment complaints cannot be overstated. The act of tracking harassments creates a clear framework for accountability. When an employee knows that their concerns will be taken seriously and addressed promptly, it fosters a culture of trust and responsibility, aligning with the core principles of equity and fairness. With Sodales, organizations can effectively organize and manage not only harassment complaints, but any type of complaint in the workplace. Employees can submit their complaint on behalf of themselves or on behalf of someone else, access their directory of policies and procedures related to harassment, manage or follow their submission through its entire lifecycle (keeping their management team accountable), upload relevant documents, and more. Employees should feel comfortable when filing something of this magnitude, and Sodales takes confidentiality very seriously, which is why the system allows employees to privately report against other employees or management (where applicable) and can control who this report is sent to within upper management. Read here to learn more about how Sodales can help your organization manage and prevent complaints in the workplace.

Creating policies is a great start for your organization, but to build a truly inclusive and diverse workplace, creating policies is not enough. McKinsey & Co. published an article talking about measuring inclusion, and they highlighted that meaningful actions from leaders and peers are required, along with an organizational system. The ability to measure the success of policies comes with tracking them and analyzing their effectiveness.

Identify patterns and root causes.

A comprehensive tracking system like Sodales provides valuable insights into patterns and root causes of issues. By analyzing the data stored in the software, organizations can pinpoint systemic challenges, allowing for targeted involvements and the implementation of corrective measures.

Data derived from tracked complaints becomes a valuable resource for enhancing DE&I initiatives. Understanding the nature of complaints allows organizations to preserve a healthy and inclusive work environment, reinforcing the values that underpin a positive workplace culture. Effectively tracking and addressing harassments or other workplace complaints also serves as a protective measure to mitigate legal and reputational risks. Many countries mandate that organizations have mechanisms in place to address workplace harassment or discrimination. Denmark, Finland, France, Serbia, and Sweden are among the many countries that have enacted laws prohibiting harassment in the workplace. If we look to France, their Labor Code imposes an obligation on employers to prevent psychological harassment, and Finland’s Occupational Health and Safety Act covers physical and psychological violence, including harassment and bullying. Failure to address any issues within a timely manner can lead to severe consequences that can include legal liabilities.

Get started with a demo.

A commitment to tracking and addressing not only harassment complaints, but all types of complaints send a powerful message to employees, stakeholders and the wider community. It demonstrates a sincere commitment to fostering a workplace that is fair, equitable and inclusive.

Workplace harassment is not merely a personal challenge that an employee faces, rather a collective threat to the very foundations of diversity, equity and inclusion. Organizations must address harassment head-on, recognizing it as an impediment to their DE&I efforts. With Sodales, organizations can foster a culture of respect, empathy, and zero tolerance for harassment, and fortify the pillars of DE&I to stand resilient against the effects of harassment.

To learn more about Sodales’ complaints software, book your free demo here, and you’ll experience how Sodales will help make your organization’s health, safety and employee relations processes safer, efficient and more transparent.

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