businessBusiness Coachingbusiness growthconsultantHuman ResourcesProcess Improvementsmall-business3 Discriminatory Signs to Look for in Your Employee Handbook

March 15, 2022by Mikerash0
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A specific memory that still holds strong in our minds has to do with a company our team has previously worked with. After spending a few years trying to get off the ground, this company began to see significant growth, however, their seemingly uniform culture also came under fire. 

In their attempts to combat this notion, the owners decided to implement Diversity and Training programs for their employees. 

Within months they fell flat. 

As the business continued to grow so did the constant pressure – enough to deceive them that they just weren’t capable of long term, sustainable change. 

When our team was brought on, we knew where to first look for discrepancies, and it was in this company resource that we were able to identify key areas that they were going wrong.

In today’s dynamic world, there is no doubt that your team is concerned about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As conversations continue to take place over the world and on our screens, chances are, this topic is always on your employees’ minds.  While offering diversity and inclusion training programs in your workplace is part of the solution, remember that company representation starts in your employee handbook. If you are to re- evaluate your company handbook, you may find some unintentionally discriminatory policies sprinkled throughout.

These policies can be putting your office culture at risk for toxic behavior, potential lawsuits, and could be the reason you can’t recruit or retain the top talent you need. 

Below are the 3 places you should promptly check in your employee handbook:

  1. Your grooming and appearance policies
  2. Your recruiting policies
  3. Policies surrounding nepotism


#1. Your Company Grooming Policy

Grooming and appearance policies have become an easy hiding place for racism and discrimination in your company culture. In fact, many grooming and appearance policies impede a DEI culture in your workplace by outlawing certain looks expressed by different races. 

A common example of this is hairstyle. This can include banning dreadlocks, curly, or unruly hair. Some policies may unintentionally require particular groups of people to have to do extra work every day to essentially make their hair match their specific image. 

Policies surrounding clothing and jewelry might also be problematic, unintentionally banning various types of attire that particular cultures or groups wear.


# 2. Your Company Recruiting Methods

In yesterday’s post, we mentioned that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion can drive the value of your business by appealing to new consumers and job seekers. While your recruiting policies may not seem blatantly racist – or even problematic for that matter – they could be shutting out certain minority or cultural groups. A common example of this conduct that we have seen in companies is their tendency to only recruit or hire from certain colleges. 

If the list of schools you frequently hire from doesn’t include historically black universities or colleges, you’re already discriminating against black applicants. Usually however, your methods are more subtle than this. Certain colleges don’t indicate that they are for one group or another, but in practice, their student body is a similar population.  

To test if your recruiting policies and processes are falling short, just take a visual look around you at the office. Is everyone in the workplace from the same ethnicity, culture and/or socioeconomic background? If it seems like there is a lack of diversity, it is time for you to work with HR professionals to create and implement a better recruitment strategy. 

Come up with different ways to advertise and promote your job openings while giving an equal opportunity to candidates from all backgrounds. Remember that your company will see the benefits when meetings are full of people with different perspectives and fresh ideas. When you foster a genuine and inclusive culture, you encourage the best kind of innovation and collaboration. 


#3. Your Company Anti-Nepotism Policies

It’s very common for a business to prefer to hire from referrals, friends, or even family members. The idea that you are probably getting great buy-in from the candidate if someone they know enjoys working for your team is enough to share the position. Furthermore, if the individual is a friend or relative of a current employee, they are more likely to be a good culture fit for your company. 

However, there’s a big problem with not curbing these kinds of hiring practices to some extent: as you hire more of the same people you already have in your workforce, you’re not hiring people who are different than those in your workforce.

Again, a great test to see the effect of these practices is to look around you. How many people of different races, religions, ethnicities, cultures, etc., work at your company? If your employee culture is particularly uniform, it’s time to make stronger anti-nepotism policies, as well as policies that push your hiring initiatives to include externally sourced candidates.


Final Thoughts

Situations similar to the above are not uncommon. Once our MCDA CCG HR experts were able to pinpoint areas of weakness and discrepancies within the company’s handbook and procedures, we were able to move forward with a good starting point. These items may seem intimidating, but if you want your business to become part of something bigger and thrive, don’t think of them as optional.

Strive to do the right thing for your company and the people that are part of it. Good, strategic human resource planning supports a diverse and inclusive culture, and your handbook is an effective tool in communicating your company message. We hope this post provides clarity in necessary employee handbook and policy updates. As you re-evaluate your employee handbook, ensure that your policies comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and that they are consistent with best practices.

To do this effectively and ensure compliance from start to finish, we highly recommend that you reach out to one of our HR professionals for guidance. We can help you evaluate the warning signs in your current handbook, policies, and in your company culture to make further improvements where necessary. Ultimately, you will find that your employees will be happier and more productive which will positively impact your bottom line.

Reach out to one of our team members today for a no obligation consultation! Get in touch


Other MCDA CCG Resources:

The Ultimate Guide to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Your Workplace

What are the Consequences of a Poorly Written Employee Handbook?

Why Every Business Needs an HR Compliance Audit

Do’s and Don’ts: Employee Handbook Rules You Should Know

Employee Handbooks: 9 Must-Have Policies for 2022

9 Ways Outsourcing HR Can Help You Retain Your Remote Employees

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