- Elizabeth Moravek
Human Resources Director
United Artists Theater Circuit, Inc.
Keep prejudice out of your organization at the start, during the
interview. I'm constantly educating every level of management
about things they can and cannot say and ask.
I stress skill-based, job-related questions. For example:
"Describe how you handled a situation where a customer came
to you angry or upset," or "What were some of the things
about which you and your previous supervisor disagreed?"
With job titles, we changed Doorman to Door Attendant, and Candy
Girl to Concessions Attendant. It's a process of continuing education
and consciousness raising. I don't find prejudice deliberate,
as much as I find it careless. People just need to think about
what they're saying.
Pre-screening tests are fraught with legal problems. A recent
advertisement for pre-employment testing said, "This test
identifies those people most likely to engage in drugs and alcohol
abuse . . . It identifies those people inclined to steal when
given the opportunity . . . It flags those who may engage in sabotage
and destructive behavior." Tests like these are dangerous
from a legal standpoint. For one thing, there's a good bet they
haven't been validated.
Rather than questionable testing, it's better to stress probationary
periodsnow called "orientation periods"and employment
at will. Especially with difficult, violent, or problem employees,
hammer away that you can quit or be terminated with or without
cause, with or without notice. Manage problem people and stay
on top of performance.
Some candidates interview beautifully, their references check
out, yet three months later you find out they don't have both
oars in the water. Don't wait six months or three years to take
disciplinary action. Act at once.
Some managers demote difficult employees or transfer them to another
department to avoid confrontation. That's a mistake.
It's better to deal with problems head-on. One manager had a
history of passing on problems to others. I felt I had made great
progress when he said, "I will never demote or transfer poor performers again.
In the future, employees will cut it or else leave the organization."
- Harv Sims
Director of Training
You can never get rid of prejudice, but you can expose it, educate
against it, and drive it underground. Like drug abuse, you keep
it visible, and actively pursue it. That will suppress it.
Continuous awareness is part of our curriculum at CoBANK. We have
policies against prejudice and we enforce them. We train against
it on a yearly basis, and we don't let infractions slide by. We
send a message through the corporation that we're not going to
We don't care how you behave at home or in public, we do care
how you act inside the company. At one time we had as many Chippendale
calendars as Sports Illustrated calendars. They all had to come
down. We're not changing society, just changing the work environment.
In the past even upper-level managers were winking at the rules.
The winking stopped when we fired a couple supervisors.
Vice President Human Resources
Stanley Aviation Corporation
In the last ten years prejudice hasn't disappeared, it has simply
gone underground. We don't screen applicants directly for prejudice,
but we do disqualify them for racial slurs or sexual remarks.
We communicate frequently with our employees. The President gives
a formal address quarterly stressing anti-harassment. We won't
tolerate it. It's not good practice, and not good business. In
short, it's not the right thing to do.
Corporate culture determines what's allowed and what's not allowed.
Therefore, establish a strong policy saying that prejudice is
not tolerated. Enforce your policies and deal with problems directly.
In our company, we have zero tolerance if something prejudicial
is said. It's not acceptable. You're better off not to have a
policy against prejudice or discrimination than to have one and
not enforce it.
- Barbara Brannen
Vice President Human Resources
Rose Medical Center
By allowing prejudice into organizations, we remove our opportunity
to grow. Diversity brings creativity. A homogeneous group may
get along well, but new and different
ideas get lost. All of us carry around biases related to anything:
foods, clothing, even what constitutes better weather.
We need to learn to deal with prejudice in the workplace, to keep
it from interfering with being with other people in a productive
way. It's important to have perspective about your biases. We
need to teach openness in the workplace. Openness is the ability
to respect other people's place and position. Our training at
Rose Medical Center is based on respect. I don't ask employees
to give up their prejudices. I respect their right to have a different
view, and I expect them to respect others' rights.
The hardest thing to do about prejudice is to sit down and talk
about it. It's hard to get started. Once you're started, it's
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