Inequality in the workplace continues to be a concern even though the “Human Right Act” exists to protect under-represented groups. Discrimination is a traumatizing experience for many minority peoples, especially Black Canadians. I get regular calls from minorities facing discrimination at work and question is the same,
“What can I do when faced with inequality or discrimination at work?”
Here are some strategic steps:
Make sure that you document all your conversations with your leader(s)
Send an email recap of all meetings to ensure clarity and understanding. Forward a copy of each email to your personal email if possible. If forwarding to your personal email is against your organization’s code of conduct, consider printing emails or documents that show proof of inequality. These might come in handy if you’re terminated without cause.
Ensure you read your organization’s code of conduct and policies on Workplace Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination. This will help you understand your organization’s stance.
Speak to legal counsel to understand your options. There are lots of lawyers who are willing to make payments arrangements for consultations and may consider pro bono cases.
Be cautious about the leaders that you trust within your organization when it comes to conversations about inequality. There are leaders who will protect the organization first, regardless of your situation.
Connect with your Human Resources department if you feel comfortable. Unfortunately, I have spoken to a lot of minorities who feel that HR makes them a target by telling their leaders what was discussed. The reality is that HR’s first commitment is to protect the organization.
Join an employee resource group. Either a race-based group or a group whose members share your values. Employee resource groups create a safe environment to share lived or common experiences within the workplace.
I have felt the ugly hands of workplace inequality and what it can do to one’s mental health. I strongly encourage you to pair these strategies with some mental health support. It may even be necessary to take time off work to re-evaluate the situation, process, and decide if your values align with that of the organization.