Do your staff need training in tolerance?

by L&D22 Jul 2016
The movement towards inclusive and respectful language is making headlines right around the world.

The Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) recently announced a campaign to educate the workplace to use language that’s relevant to everyone. This includes avoiding words like “guys” and “girls”.

However, critics argue that too much focus on appropriate language is political correctness, time-consuming and harmful to freedom of speech.

Or as the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump put it on his campaign trail: “I've been challenged by so many people and I don't frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn't have time either.”

These political tensions now seem to be seeping into the office.

A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 30% of employers and 17% of employees in the United States have argued with a co-worker over a particular candidate this election season (mostly about Trump).

Overall, 19% of employers have argued with a co-worker over Trump, compared to 17% over Hillary Clinton.

“With passions running high this political season, individuals run the risk of saying things or behaving in ways that can be considered unprofessional or discriminatory toward each other,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder.

“The tip to navigating the rough waters during election season is to make sure your conversations are fair and respectful. If you feel like political chit-chat is getting heated or confrontational, it’s time to walk away.”

Haefner added that respect and dignity behavioral training is one way to help promote tolerance for different ideas.

The survey also found that more than a fifth of workers (22%) say political correctness has made their business stronger.

However, more than a third (34%) say it has hindered business, making people "tiptoe around issues and afraid to speak their minds", instead of addressing issues head on.

Haefner offers the following tips to finding the right balance:
  • Recognise there’s a thin line between freedom of expression and a potential source of conflict. Consider providing respect and dignity behavioral training to all employees and emphasise tolerance for different ideas, beliefs and needs.
  • Ensure your harassment policies and harassment complaint system are posted and that employees are trained in the process.
  • Create a culture of open dialogue and mutual respect, but if conversations do turn heated, encourage employees to walk away.
L&D Professional also recently reported that Facebook are offering their staff training in avoiding political bias.

Related stories:

Should employees be trained to avoid words like 'guys'?

Facebook to train staff to avoid political bias

Triple M staff to undergo training after Eddie McGuire’s comments
 

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