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Ideally, everyone who works together in an office or warehouse would get along. However, the truth is that conflict between coworkers often arises. If you own a California business, it’s important that you have policies in place designed to resolve disputes between employees in a timely manner.

You want to maintain a positive workplace culture

People do their best work when they feel safe and supported. Individuals who are routinely threatened, belittled or otherwise harassed will generally be less productive and have lower levels of job satisfaction. In some cases, that employee’s negative attitude will start to rub off on others in the office.

Eventually, you will need to intervene or risk ceding control of your business to the office bullies. In addition to a workplace mediation program, it may be worthwhile to have your employees take a harassment training course. Offering such a course may empower your workers to stand up for themselves and others before a conflict escalates too far.

Mediation can avert a potential lawsuit

If you’re not willing to intervene at the first sign of trouble, your employees may decide to take legal action. Even if a workplace mediation plan doesn’t yield a positive outcome, it may help to reduce your liability in the event of a lawsuit. This is because an employee may be less likely to claim that he or she was subject to a hostile workplace.

Allowing conflicts between employees to escalate may create a toxic workplace culture. Therefore, it’s important to take steps to help colleagues resolve their differences in a respectful and timely manner. If necessary, more than one meeting can be scheduled to ensure that a problem is solved for good.

People who live and work in California want to have a positive experience in the workplace. Unfortunately, issues such as sexual harassment still occur in spite of laws making such behavior illegal. Employers can do their part by preventing workplace sexual harassment.

The importance of preventing sexual harassment

Workplaces should have good diversity and inclusion standards. When employees are a mix of races, religions, genders, gender identities, ages and more, it shows that the place of employment truly values everyone, their professional positions and their contributions to the company.

Train employees to not engage in sexual harassment

One of the best ways to prevent a hostile workplace is to offer training sessions to teach your employees about the dangers of sexual harassment. You can train employees not to engage in sexual or any other type of harassment by educating them on company standards and policies. Along with training your staff, you can implement strong procedures to ensure that if harassment does occur, employees can immediately report it.

Raise awareness

Make your staff aware of what constitutes sexual harassment and what they should do if they believe they’re directly or indirectly affected by it. This can help your employees to be less tolerant of certain behaviors in the work environment.

Encourage openness

Encouraging openness in your workplace is important. It allows employees who are being harassed to feel free to speak up. When openness is encouraged, it makes the workplace a better place for all your employees, and harassment is less likely to happen.

Create a handbook

Create a handbook for your staff so that they have a reference that lets them know what’s considered sexual harassment and what they should do if it occurs. Your handbook should also clearly explain where employees can go if they wish to report an incident.

In spite of workplaces being more diverse than ever, sexual harassment still takes place in many companies regardless of size or industry. It is up to employers to put protocols in place that help prevent workplace sexual harassment.

California is a state that has in many respects paved the way in the promotion of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. When a company embraces greater diversity, it benefits from a wider talent pool, more engaging productivity and an increase in employee morale. Teams in the modern world must prepare themselves for success by implementing sound diversity and inclusion tactics.

Maintaining a culture that respects and encourages diversity

Diversity and inclusion comes with numerous benefits, and it provides greater protections for all of your workers. Developing a workplace that encourages a diversity of backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, ethnicities, genders and races ensures your company presents an inclusive and supportive image to the world.

The employer should lead the charge to protect employees from discrimination. Candidates now look to a company to provide a work environment where they can grow and learn. Fresh perspectives come from hiring people who have varied backgrounds and interests. Diversity leads to greater employee innovation and performance. When a diverse group of individuals works on a problem, a wider range of possibilities and problems are addressed.

Diversity requires an intentional decision to employ workers who come from a wide array of backgrounds. A company that hires based on diversity demonstrates better problem-solving, creativity and innovation.

Creating a flourishing work environment

Policies that ensure hiring managers understand how an applicant’s background can contribute to a better and more diverse company can help a company achieve the goal of creating a better work environment. When a company brings in diverse talent and ideas, it can avoid an approach to thinking that limits creativity. Making inclusion and diversity a part of company culture creates a more productive and enjoyable atmosphere.

Ensuring your company has a diverse workforce can make it a better place to work for everyone. However, you may find hiring a variety of people from different backgrounds is not easy, especially if you seem to attract the same type of applicants every time you put out a job ad.

TechRepublic explains that you may need to switch up how you advertise a job opening and seek out diverse groups to help vary the applicants you get for a job opening.

Ad placement

The first thing you can do is rethink where you place ads. Consider the audience you will reach by using certain platforms. Try to use a variety of placements that may reach different groups of people. For example, if you cannot attract older applicants, consider placing an ad on Facebook, which tends to have an older crowd.

Ad content

You should also pay attention to the content of your ads. Are you narrowing the pool of potential applicants by making your job requirements too strict? This is a common mistake. Rethink what characteristics and qualifications a person really must have to do the job. Do not ask for too much. You could be chasing off diversity by putting too many requirements in the ad.

Also, revise the language you use. Make sure it is inviting to everyone.

Ad website

Whenever you have your ad include your website, you need to be sure the website shows you welcome diversity. If your website only shows images of older white males, it may not seem very encouraging to people who are not older white males. Showcase the diversity you already have within your company to draw in a diverse applicant pool.

You have to make diversity a priority to draw in a good group of applicants. Make sure you are not placing limitations on yourself through the job advertising process.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace help to make everyone happier and more productive. However, determining if your work environment is diverse and inclusive can be confusing.

It helps to understand what those terms mean. According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, diversity and inclusion mean having employees from different cultures, races, religions and other backgrounds and accepting and honoring the differences between your employees.

Common characteristics

A workplace that is diverse and inclusive is free of discrimination and harassment. Every worker has the same opportunities. The overall company thrives off the experiences, knowledge and individual contributions that the diverse workforce offers.

The company values every employee despite the differences. It recognizes that everyone has something unique to offer.

Incorporating diversity and inclusion

To ensure your workplace has these characteristics, you should cast a wide net when looking for new employees. Make sure that your policies treat everyone equally and seek out feedback from current employees on their concerns about inclusion and discrimination.

Make sure your executive and management teams are diverse. It is not enough to hire employees from different backgrounds. You also need to lead by example.

You should also work to create a culture within the workplace that is accepting and tolerant. Your policies should make it clear that discrimination or harassment will never be ok. Have strict standards for handling issues.

Ensure you quickly and thoroughly investigate and handle any concerns your employees have in a prompt manner.

Be aware of the differences. Include everyone in parties and celebrations, especially those concerning religious holidays. You may need to adjust current policies to ensure you include employees of all religions.

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace involves being more aware. Once you start to look at your employees and embrace their differences, you can reach your goals.

Diversity in the workplace remains a focus for many law firms, no matter their size. Inclusivity is not only expected but protected by discrimination laws. The American Bar Association notes that some firms are making use of the Mansfield rule, which deems that at least 30% of any workforce include those of minority status and women. 

Legal firms can broaden their relationships with clients and relate to a wider range of individuals when they earn Mansfield rule certification. 

About the Mansfield rule

The Mansfield rule gets its name from the first woman in the United States history legally allowed to practice law. According to the law, at least some of the women and minorities hired at a law firm must have the ability to apply for several roles, including: 

  • Governance  
  • Leadership 
  • Lateral  

This offers individuals positions that can positively influence the way the firm runs and its views toward diversity. 

Benefits

Applying the Mansfield rule to any firm may have a variety of benefits, even if it already practices hiring diverse individuals. They may provide attorneys and other employees with viewpoints and human resource ideals not considered in the past. This is one of the main benefits of this rule, as it exposes people to new ideas and outlooks other than their own, which may improve relations with a variety of clients and make the firm more relatable. This may also lower the risk of any diversity or inclusion lawsuits in the workplace, which may otherwise cause tension that affects company productivity. 

There is much lawyers, their clients and law firm employees can learn from the Mansfield rule. To date, the number of firms seeking certification continues to grow. 

Your work environment likely includes a combination of employees from diverse backgrounds. There’s a mix of education levels and personality types. And although you made a strategic decision to bring each individual on board, disputes are bound to arise.

Profits require a continual focus on working together to achieve business goals. However, to minimize internal conflict, your leadership team must understand communication’s role in keeping productivity on track.

Communication as risk mitigation

Workplace policies define and discourage inappropriate behavior. Yet, disagreements and misunderstandings among workers could stem from something as simple as a succinct email or a colleague’s body language during a meeting.

Naturally, you can’t control anyone else’s interpretation of daily events. You can, however, recognize communication’s influence on disputes.

Unaddressed concerns between co-workers could create a negative atmosphere. Additionally, contention can distract workers from their tasks and, in some cases, lead to costly court proceedings.

Clear communication holds the potential to prevent many frustrations. For example, consider common disputes involving:

  • Company culture. The attitudes expressed among executives establish the tone for the whole organization. A drive to recognize others’ efforts is a simple, and affordable, step toward developing a positive, collaborative environment.
  • Insufficient training. The individuals on your team have varying needs, as well as the unique skills and perspectives they offer. Encouraging workers to clarify expectations and instructions might help avert questions about an employee’s contributions, or lack thereof.
  • Leadership. Invest in your leaders so they have the tools necessary to manage teams effectively. Embrace a person-centered outlook and helpful approach to developing professional relationships and improving productivity. A desire to please those who respect you is only natural, and those in management positions can set a powerful example.

Since two or more people are involved in the process of sharing and receiving information, a conflict-free workplace is unlikely, no matter the communication techniques you implement. However, a company-wide commitment to improve interactions may reduce challenges that could take your progress off course.

When it comes to diversity in the workplace, you may be overlooking a very important type: the diversity of thought. 

While people of different races and cultural backgrounds certainly help maintain a diverse work crew, if everyone thinks the same way then you may not be fully embracing the difference in the way people think. Here are some questions to ask yourself when determining if your company values a difference in opinion as diversity. 

1. Do your leaders want to lead, or do they want to control?

Leaders in your company play a very important role when it comes to employee retention, diversity and success in the workplace. If you have leaders in place that are more interested in controlling a group of people than they are teaching them how to be successful, they may discourage thought diversity, or even punish it. 

Be sure to put the right people in the right positions and reward leadership accordingly. 

2. Is the business defining your employees?

According to a Forbes.com article, having a business that defines your employees may indicate a lack of thought diversity. In these situations, the company culture overrides the individual’s culture in the workplace. The company expects employees to fit into a box the company makes for them. This includes acting and thinking in certain ways. 

While it is always important to maintain a professional demeanor while at work, allowing employees to define the business culture can go a long way towards embracing diversity. 

Encouraging employees to question old ways of thinking and using those ideas to implement changes are great steps on the road towards having a more diverse workplace. 

When you hire someone, you invest in their role in the company. Sometimes, however, you have to let go of an employee who fails to meet expectations. 

Protect your legal interests by following California laws and best practices when terminating a worker at your company. 

Maintain a written record

Keeping careful personnel files can support termination in court. If a disgruntled employee claims discrimination or wrongful termination, you should have evidence of past discipline and warnings. 

You should also document the decision to end a person’s tenure with the company. If several members of the leadership team met to discuss the next steps, for example, keep notes of that meeting. 

Pay final wages immediately

In California, you must provide an employee with his or her outstanding pay immediately upon termination. You must also pay for unused vacation days if an employee has paid time off as a benefit. Workers who do not receive the full payout on the last day of work can claim a late fee for each day of delay. 

Provide COBRA notification

If your company has at least 20 employees, you must continue to offer terminated employees access to group health insurance coverage. In addition to this federal COBRA law, California requires companies with 2 to 19 employees to offer state COBRA for up to 36 months. If these provisions apply to your firm, you must give the fired worker written notice about their COBRA rights within 30 days. 

Telling the worker in person in a calm, professional manner can help ease the transition. Prepare to eliminate access to company accounts and retrieve company property immediately after this meeting.

Employers have a lot of tasks and responsibilities in front of them. One major consider is the level of inclusivity of your workplace. This goes beyond just legal considerations regarding harassment and discrimination. While it is crucial you establish a workplace free of mistreatment of others, you must also strive to make every worker feel at home. 

This is the goal of an inclusive workplace: that all staff is equally respected and that their voices are equally heard. It is up to employers to create an inclusive culture, and ensure this culture is properly maintained. CIO offers some effective strategies to boost workplace inclusivity. 

Express empathy towards your team

Perhaps you do not know exactly what it is like to be left out because of your skin color, ethnicity, or gender. However, virtually all human beings have experienced feelings of rejection at some point. Tap into these feelings and consider the effect they had on you. Now put yourself in the place of your staff, who may feel unwelcome or unwanted at work. Empathy is a key component of successful leadership, and it also allows you to meet workers where they live when it comes to inclusivity. 

Do not rely solely on quotas

Quotas are good for expanding your pool of qualified candidates to include more ethnicities and races. However, they are not the end all, be all of an inclusive workplace. Consider the type of environment a new hire of color is coming into. Is company culture amenable to people from different backgrounds? Are all staff members encouraged to contribute during meetings, or is conversation typically relegated to the same faces? Hiring a diverse staff is only the beginning, so do not waste too much time patting yourself on the back. 

Emphasize the joys of inclusivity

If majority workers feel “attacked” by your inclusivity process, regardless if these feelings have merit, they are likely to push back against it. While you must implement the proper hiring practices and policies to ensure all workers feel at home, you should also allow your staff to get to know each other on a personal level. Schedule lunches and happy hours, so your team can banter and trade stories. Getting over one’s bias or prejudice is sometimes as simple as sitting down and sharing a meal with a person from a different background. 

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