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6th March 2020
Coronavirus prompts rise in workplace discrimination
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread there has been a worrying rise in racial harassment, bullying, and discrimination in the workplace.
In the US, the CDC has issued guidance on reports of an increase in discrimination in people at work, particularly against people of Chinese heritage, warning that COVID-19-related “fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma towards Chinese or other Asian Americans.”
The Director-General at the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, has even spoken out: “It’s appalling to see new reports of people being targeted due to their race, ethnicity or purported association with COVID-19. WHO once again calls for an end to stigmatization & discrimination at a time when solidarity and compassion must be paramount,” Tedros said on Twitter.
How your workplace can protect employees from discrimination associated with COVID-19:
Remind employees of your organization’s discrimination & harassment policies
Engage relevant employee resource groups to spread information
If your workplace has a “guardian” or “champion” models to support speaking up, they should be attuned to COVID-19 related discrimination
Employers need to put in place tools encouraging employees to speak up and report if they fall victim to or witness discrimination of any kind. This should be coupled with a cultural reminder from leadership stressing the importance of nipping prejudiced behavior in the bud. Anyone that witnesses the perpetuation of negative stereotypes should be encouraged to speak up and report it.