find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
A discrimination-free workplace saves companies from hefty lawsuits

A discrimination-free workplace saves companies from hefty lawsuits

Simon Wilkins, LexisNexis

Fox News recently came under fire after 11 of its employees hit the organisation with a class action lawsuit alleging widespread racial discrimination, writes Simon Wilkins.

Sadly, Fox News is not the only organisation that has been accused of allowing this sort of misconduct. For years, the cultures of some organisations have been rife with discriminating behaviours which by no means should be tolerated by any employee.

With widespread discriminatory violations continuing to be committed across organisations, the rule of law is directly related to the implementation and enforcement of rights, and respect for the rule of law is inextricably linked to the way companies engage in business, and the ethics of workplace relations.

Preventing discrimination in the workplace

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, discrimination occurs when a person or group of people are treated less favourably because of their background or personal characteristics, such as race, age, disability or gender orientation.

As in the case of Fox News, employers can be hit with a hefty lawsuit if they are found to have engaged in discriminatory acts under the aforementioned characteristics.

One effective way to curb this is by implementing a strong and unambiguous equal opportunity policy. This framework should state in simple language what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour in the workplace. Employers should also make an effort to reiterate these policies to all employees to ensure that they are known and understood throughout the organisation.

Any discrimination issue brought to an employers’ attention needs to be resolved quickly. The longer a company leaves a potential case of discrimination unaddressed, the greater the chance for workplace legal action. Employees have legal rights that protect against workplace discrimination, and penalties for breaching them are substantial. It is in the best interest of any organisation to have anti-discrimination policies in place not only to protect their staff, but also to protect the business from potential lawsuits.

Anti-discrimination laws encourage diversity

Anti-discrimination laws exist to protect employees who come from different backgrounds. This in turn encourages a more diverse and inclusive work environment where employees’ skills and cultural perspectives are respected and valued.

It is through creating a more inclusive workplace free of discrimination that an organisation is able to achieve better business outcomes. However, diversity at the workplace becomes ineffective if it’s not encouraged and supported by the senior leadership team.

Strong values = stronger economy

As the corporate world diversifies, there’s a real opportunity for business leaders to influence and bring about positive change and to ensure that representation within organisations is reflective of society at every level.

A number of studies suggest that diverse workforces perform better financially. In fact, a McKinsey study echoes this sentiment, drawing conclusions that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

As organisations operate in an increasingly connected world, our understanding of diversity should not be limited to it being about gender, age and ethnic background alone. Diversity in today’s modern era is also about extending access, fairness and equality across the organisation. It is this type of diversity that cultivates innovation and ensures the prosperity of an organisation.

Progressive businesses are those that consciously make an effort to ditch any unconscious bias around race, age, disability and gender, and illuminate the path to career success based on merit. It is critical for organisations to meet high standards of good governance, transparency and ethical practices within the environments they operate.

Simon Wilkins is a general manager at LexisNexis.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

A discrimination-free workplace saves companies from hefty lawsuits
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
microscope
Dec 18 2017
‘Exorbitant legal fees’ under government microscope
With the growing number of class action proceedings in Australia, the government is looking at how ...
Funds, money, cash
Dec 18 2017
Law Access WA receives welcome funding
Law Access Western Australia has received a grant from the state government to fund its pro bono leg...
Thomson Reuters adds to Practical Law team
Dec 18 2017
Thomson Reuters adds to Practical Law team
Thomson Reuters has appointed an experienced real estate lawyer to its Practical Law Australia team....
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...