Stopping Gender Bias, Discrimination and Workplace Bullying

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Stopping Gender Bias, Discrimination and Workplace Bullying

Bullying is unreasonable behaviour posing a risk to health and safety that is usually directed toward a vulnerable person. Gender inequality and all forms of discrimination involve bullying behaviour directed at different classes of vulnerable people. Bullying, Gender inequality and discrimination can all be prevented under Australian Work, Health and Safety principals. An organisation’s primary legal responsibility is to ensure the physical and psychological safety of employees. 

When it comes to discrimination and inequality, the most common defence is that a vulnerable person was not singled out on purpose. Organisations can claim they treat everyone equally as bad to avoid legal liability. There is enough clear evidence of the harm caused by unreasonable behaviour at work, including discrimination and inequality directed toward vulnerable employees. Regardless of the legal exemptions provided by Australian law, repeated and sometimes even single events can cause psychological injury including depression, anxiety, PTSD and death. 

It is time for organisations to take the law into their own hands, to uphold their primary responsibility under Work Health and Safety principals. It makes better business sense to promote a creative, happy and healthy workforce rather than making life harder to encourage disgruntled employees to leave voluntarily.  Cruel or inefficient performance management processes do not always prevent the cost of dealing with an unfair dismissal claim. 

The clear messages from the Australian government on workplace equality, discrimination and bullying are that the management of organisations employee working relationships is the responsibility of organisations, not the government. Australian laws are not very effective at preventing psychological injury because they set a high threshold before they encourage government intervention. Do we really need to be forced to treat people with common decency by government, or can we see a better way through ethical leadership?

Kevin Gilmore-Burrell LLB MBA

© Empathyse ® Anti-bullying Consulting 2020

Creating Positive Workplaces