It’s a “vicious cycle,” says corporate diversity/inclusion consultant Lily Zheng, and it “keeps systemic inequity deeply entrenched within many workplaces.”
The cycle Zheng spotlights in a recent Harvard Business Review article is resistantly apparent in many company environments across Michigan and spanning the country. It is centrally marked by the persistent maltreatment of select workers, notwithstanding a potent array of federal and state legal safeguards that are in place to protect them.
That malfeasance is authored by a broad range of workplace actors. Company managers and supervisors single out particular employers for discriminatory treatment and various acts of abuse or, alternatively, simply condone it when they note its occurrence. Coworkers engage in varied acts of discrimination and harassment. Minority workers are singled out. So too are women, members of the LGBTQ community, older workers, employees born in foreign countries, workers with disabilities and other groups.
A central point stressed by Zheng is this: Notwithstanding workplace protections against such wrongs, legions of victims are loath to report adverse behavior and simply endure it. Zheng stresses that, “Too many people don’t feel safe at work and, fearing repercussions, aren’t willing or able to speak up about it.” Reportedly, less than one-third of workers subjected to on-the-job harassing behaviors lodge an internal complaint. And fewer than 15% of them commence a legal action.
Worker fears are often grounded in the belief that speaking up will spark company retaliation. Reams of empirical evidence points to that being true.
Employees victimized by unlawful third-party conduct at work should know that they are far from powerless in responding. Discriminatory behavior is flatly taboo, as is retaliation for spotlighting workplace wrongs. An experienced employment law legal team can provide further information.