Taking Care of HR Business

A blog from the attorneys of Verrill

Search Blog

Supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement: Anti-Discrimination Training (Part 3 of 12)

This is the third post in a 12-part series on how companies can support the Black Lives Matter movement through changes in company policies and practices. Our last post focused on reviewing and updating your EEO Policies. In this post we will focus on best practices in training managers and employees concerning the content of that policy so that having an anti-racist, anti-discriminatory, and anti-harassing environment is ingrained in your company’s culture.

In crafting anti-discrimination training, keep the following in mind:

  • Be mindful of any state-required training requirements and the elements of those requirements.
    • Such requirements can include content requirements, in-person versus electronic training obligations, and presentation length.
  • Reference your internal policies, noting the company’s commitment to creating/maintaining a safe non-discriminatory work environment, as well as where employees can find the policy outside of the training.
  • Engage and involve senior leaders in the process. Trainings that occur without senior leaders present often fail to communicate the fact that this is a priority for the organization and that employees of all levels will be held accountable to meeting these expectations.
  • Emphasize the seriousness of the training using humor sparingly if at all.
  • Provide examples and hypothetical scenarios of appropriate versus inappropriate behavior. While most of your employees know what is and is not work-appropriate behavior, creating hypothetical situations that place the harassment, discriminatory, or racist behavior into context often helps employees better identify problematic behavior.
  • Create an interactive program. Make sure that employees are engaged in the process and are able to discuss the hypotheticals or are able to ask questions to garner a deeper understanding of how these policies interact with their daily work life.
  • Educate employees on the differences between what is required by law (the floor of the company’s expectations of behavior) and what the company expects from its employees as to acceptable and unacceptable conduct.
  • Identify and explain subtle forms of harassment, discrimination, and racist behaviors. Consider including implicit bias training which will be discussed in more detail in future posts.
  • Independently educate supervisors on how to respond should they receive a complaint under the policy and what their obligations are as supervisors or managers.
  • Provide guidance on how to respond should employees be subject to, or witness, discriminatory, harassing, or racist behavior. In future posts we will discuss by-stander intervention and the positive effects such training can have in your organization.
  • Emphasize that no retaliation will occur as a result of making a good-faith complaint concerning actual or perceived violation of the policy or participating in an investigation. So often employees fail to report situations they witness because of fear of reprisal. Make sure you emphasize the company’s commitment to its anti-retaliation provision.
  • Continuously evaluate and evolve your training materials.

Other ways you can create policies that will help to effect change in your organization in support of the Black Lives Matter movement:

  • If you don’t already have one, make sure that you have an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policy that is easily accessible to employees and applicants (this is the bare minimum of what all employers should be doing, but is also the foundation of the process). Read more about this here.
  • Provide implicit bias training to employees. While in the past, there has been concern that acknowledging implicit bias will be detrimental in any future discrimination lawsuit, this is not likely the case. Implicit bias is present in us all and we all need to be aware of the devastating impact it has on the choices we make on a daily basis.
  • Provide third-party intervention training to employees and managers so that they have tools and resources to assist them should they witness racist behavior or microagressions in the workplace.
  • Update your grooming/personal appearance policy to include language that forbids discrimination based on hair style and hair texture.
  • Consider the creation of affinity groups with the purpose of providing a platform/forum for employees to discuss ways in which the company can create a more inclusive and equitable environment.
  • Educate your managers about the differences between diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Review past EEO-1 and Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) information to identify places in which the company could be doing better (even if not required by law).
  • Stop referral-based hiring programs as these continue to perpetuate the hiring of non-diverse candidates.
  • Listen to the experiences of black employees and employees of color.
  • Educate your managers and decision-makers about the Black Lives Matter movement and the injustices experienced by black employees and employees of color.

Click here to read part two of this series.

Click here to read part four of this series.

Topics: Discrimination, HR Best Practices