With 1 in 10 people being discriminated against in the workplace each year, and many more being a victim of bullying, its no surprise so many people turn to Lawyers for help. This week we spoke to employment law specialist, Robbie Bryant from
to understand the options and rights of employees suffering in the workplace.
If you are currently experiencing workplace discrimination, harassment or bullying then download the equall.app today. It’s a safe, secure and anonymous way to start making your workplace fairer.
Inspired by the COVID tracing app, Otago-based startup Equall.app is aiming to help communities and businesses identify and stamp out discrimination.
For Duncan Faulkner, a tech entrepreneur from Otago, 2020 was always going to be the year of change. After spending the last five years building and growing Auditz, an app helping small to medium-sized businesses manage their health and safety, he was ready for something new.
Equall app founder Duncan Faulkner.
Most of all, Faulkner wanted to create something that would drive significant change on a global scale.
When New Zealand went into lockdown, Faulkner became inspired by the COVID-19 response.
“There was this team feeling in New Zealand – this team of 5 million,” says Faulkner, “Everyone was feeling like we did an amazing job battling COVID, this new and invisible thing. We managed to stamp it out in a matter of weeks.”
During that time, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement began gaining momentum across the world. According to Faulkner, the movement came forwards and placed COVID-19 on the backburner.
When asked by a mentor which issue was more important, Faulkner thought about it and realised it was BLM.
“It was affecting more people. It’s this invisible thing that’s been around since the beginning of time, affecting 1 in 2 people, and we haven’t managed to fix it. Yet with this entirely new disease, we got on top of it and created strategies to eliminate it,” he explains.
Faulkner saw an opportunity to tackle discrimination globally using similar strategies.
It’s an issue close to Falkner as well. He comes from a family of six, two of which were adopted and of colour.
“From birth, I’ve seen how black people are treated slightly differently. My sister and I are the same age, were brought up by the same parents, and yet the opportunities and way people treat us are different. It’s way easier for me being a white male in society,” says Faulkner.
Faulkner also spent six years in the police force in the UK. He says that diversity and equality were ingrained into everything they did. Spending most of his time helping people, mainly those less fortunate, he saw the adverse effects within the community of being foreign and of colour.
Knowing all this, Faulkner says no one has truly measured discrimination. Faulkner saw an opportunity in New Zealand’s success in handling the pandemic using the NZ COVID tracer app to solve this problem.
In August, Faulkner founded Equall.app, an app that provides an easy and anonymous way to safely and securely log discrimination. The data feeds into an interactive map that shows hot spots, and users can filter by types of discrimination, allowing them to see how different areas compare.
Equall app acts as an anonymous reporting tool to help businesses identify discrimination quickly and take positive action.
The information can also be used to lobby governments, stakeholders, and support agencies to do more in those areas. It’s aligned with Equall’s mission to drive society’s inclusivity, a global movement that Faulkner wants to start right here in New Zealand.
As more and more people create logs, Faulkner believes that company names will emerge from the data.
“That becomes the opportunity for us to go, ‘what do you have in place at the moment to manage discrimination?’ The chances are that [the companies] have a policy but nothing else,” Faulkner explains.
The monetised version of Equall acts as an anonymous reporting tool that businesses and government agencies can use to identify discrimination quickly to take positive action.
Employees scan a unique QR code that triggers a mode in the app that reports against their organisational structure.
This version of the app also has the added capability for anonymous two-way communication so that managers can engage with the person reporting it. This function allows managers to offer more support and receive enough information to tackle the problem.
“Typically, people don’t report this stuff because they can’t do it anonymously, and they’re worried about the ramifications or the consequences of doing so,” says Faulkner.
As Equall begins phase one of their launch, Faulkner understands that the first challenge will be getting communities to ‘say’ something if they see or experience discrimination via the app.
It’s the power in data and technology. With enough voices, problems become more difficult to ignore, and those who are working to solve the issues can create more targeted solutions.
“We want to start the global movement right here in New Zealand because I believe we can do it,” says Faulkner.
“If we can beat COVID, we can beat discrimination, or at least we can make a big dent in it.”
Originally published in NZ Entrepreneur Magazine
Discrimination Across The Generations
Gen Z are the generation born between the mid 1990’s and 2010. At the moment Gen Z make up a total of 2.4 billion people globally. By 2025 Gen Z will make up over a quarter of the global workforce.
What’s The Big Deal?
Similarly to their closely related Gen X and Millennials, Gen Z have very different thoughts on work, life, and in particular diversity. Many have been privileged enough to grow up in a much more mixed and multi-cultural environment to their parents and predecessors.
In a recent survey 83% of Gen Z work seekers said that a firm’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity was a key element when choosing an employer. For this reason, as more and more of Gen Z enter the workforce it is going to be crucial for employers to make sure diversity is not only on the agenda, but is front and centre when it comes to people policies.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review explores how it may not be our behavioural differences but our beliefs about our intergenerational differences that can cause us gripes. Baby Boomers don’t text and you can only get hold of Gen Z on SnapChat surely? Assumptions like this can be damaging and don’t often reflect reality.
These assumed organisational psychologies can create broad assumptions that cover whole generations. An even bigger problem can be the generalisations that we believe about our own generations. In a recent study thoughts towards different age groups, coming from other were quite positive – older generations were ‘experienced’ the middle-aged group ‘ethical’ and the younger workers ‘energetic’ whilst each group worried about how the others perceived them raising thoughts like like ‘stubborn’ and ‘inexperienced’.
Perceptions like this show that communication is key!
Baby Boomers & Discrimination
This article by Stuff NZ claims that “around 72 per cent of women and 57 per cent of men between the ages of 45 and 74 report that they believe they have been discriminated against due to their age.”
Tips for Boomers to stay happy at work included in the article include staying tech savvy, focusing on health and above all remembering rights around discrimination in the workplace. We would argue these tips are important for candidates of any age!
If you do suspect that you have been the victim of age discrimination it might be worth downloading equall to check out our information on the different forms of discrimination. Whether it is during the hiring process, systemically at work (missing out on training for example) or even the ability to retire – discrimination can have more of an impact than we know.
Discrimination & GEN X
Gen X have had a tough time and lived through more recessions in the workplace than any other group. This article by the Japan Times explores the tricky times they could be facing.
One problem that Gen X face, is being considered an older category of the workforce, with numerous working years still ahead of them. Discrimination against Gen X can be silent but can permeate from the recruitment stages through to employers systematically discriminating on the basis that they are unlikely to be in the work force for as long as their younger counterparts.
How do you feel about the Gen X team members in your workplace? It is likely they are some of the most experienced, but perhaps some of the quietest team members in the organisation?
Millennials & Discrimination
Millennials don’t experience age discrimination do they? This article in New York Post cites Glassdoor’s 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Survey that found more Millennials faced age discrimination than works 55 and over.
What is worse and quite surprising, is that under the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission only workers over the age of 40 are protected against age discrimination issues.
There has to be another way. equall doesn’t discriminate against users based on age or legislation. We listen to everything logged and pass the details anonymously to employers. This way they organisations receive more information than ever before about workplace discrimination and individuals can raise issues without the risk of repercussion.
Gen Z & Discrimination
Gen Z are arguably a new breed all together. For employers it is crucial that those involved in the recruitment process are able to actively communicate the firms commitment to diversity and inclusion in order to make the firm attractive to the top candidates.
From language in recruitment advertisements to ensuring your firm is shown to be actively embracing diversity in the media. This is where it becomes crucial to ensure the culture of inclusion is entrenched in your organisational philosophy. If it isn’t now is the time to start. Gen Z are also a generation that value authenticity. If your diversity policies are merely box ticking they will be able to see through this and will likely choose an organisation who appears more genuinely ‘forward-thinking’.
How do you show all generations you value inclusivity?
How do you ensure your organisation stands out as one with a brilliant company culture that all generations want to be a part of? Working with equall and displaying the equall badge could be one effective method to display to potential candidates that inclusivity is at the forefront of your organisation. Shameless plug? Sure. But one we feel could make a massive difference to your organisation and the workforce as a whole.
As an employer, displaying the equall badge intrinsically exhibits to potential candidates, your team and the rest of the world a number of cultural factors that you, as an organisation commit to.
By displaying the equally badge you pledge to:
- Pursues the early identification of discrimination
- Encourage the anonymous reporting of issues
- Proactive management of discrimination once information is received
- Act quickly to resolve discrimination issues
- Embrace equality at all levels of the company
- Acknowledge the benefits of an inclusive environment
- Recognise that diversity and inclusivity drive innovation
Benefits of displaying the equall badge:
- Recruitment: Attract the top talent
- Team Building: Build a team that value diversity and inclusivity
- Internal Marketing: Shows your team that you embrace equality
- Reduce Costs: of staff turnover that come with discrimination
- Drive Cultural Change: throughout the organisation
- Public Perception: Shows the world that you are a forward-thinking firm
- Brand Building: Actively builds your brand as both caring and innovative
Want to know more? Get in touch with one of the team today.
What are the 4 key types of discrimination?
Discrimination can come in many forms and can include a range of factors, but to simplify the possible forms of discrimination and make them more easily identifiable we are going to break these down into four key types. As one of the most multi-cultural countries in the world, the UK has had it’s fair share of discrimination issues. According to the Equality Act 2010[in UK discourse there are 4 key types of discrimination.
As a starting point, it is important to mention that the act covers the following areas of discrimination;
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
This sort of discrimination is not as obvious as it may sound to begin with. It may not be someone being physically direct towards you but can manifest itself in a number of ways around either a real or perceived ‘protected characteristic’.
Direct discrimination can occur based on the fact that you have a protected characteristic, that someone perceives you have a protected characteristic, or that you know or are related to someone with a protected characteristic.
It will mean that for any of these factors above, you are being treated worse than another person in the same situation. It is important to note that your situation will have to be similar in circumstance to another person being treated more fairly in order for a comparison to be made of the scenario. If you cannot find a scenario similar to your own it will be a case of proving that a person without the protected characteristic (actual, perceived or by association) would have been treated differently.
Note: It is very possible that you can be discriminated against by someone who shares the same protect characteristics as you. It does not have to be someone of a different age, gender, race or religion to count as discrimination.
This is an interesting one that has changed considerably in recent years. No longer limited to in person harassment, this area of discrimination has expanded into include both exist and emerging communication channels including social media.
In a nutshell harassment is behaviour towards you that is unwanted and that you find offensive. Again it is linked to whether or not you embody a protected characteristic, but similarly to direct discrimination these can be wide reaching and cover; age, gender, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation and more.
What does harassment look like in 2020?
From the upfront and personal to the technological…
- Facial expressions
- Physical gestures
- Workplace ‘banter’ that is offensive towards you
- Images, pictures or graffiti
- Written or verbal abuse
- Emails that cause offence
- Social media comments, tweets, online comments
Remember that if it is unwelcome by you, it is unwanted and counts as harassment. You don’t need to have objected to the behaviour initially and it could be as seemingly harmless as some flirtatious messages or workplace ‘banter’ that you feel has now got out of hand.
Crucially harassment covers any instances that create a hostile environment for you. It covers contact that you feel is degrading, humiliating, generally hostile or in the more acute sense simply intimidating.
It is important that if you feel you are being harassed by a colleague or work mate you keep any evidence of the unwanted behaviour where possible.
Equall will help you log harassment issues by allowing you to communicate these issues anonymously. If the same problem occurs more than once, instances will be logged, creating a hotspot within your organisation. If others have experienced the same or similar behaviour and log similar issues this will become visible, making the issue increasingly visible, enabling your employer to understand, manage and act on the issue at hand.
It might not necessarily be an individual who you feel discriminated against you. Our workplaces are full of policies and procedures that shape our cultural workplace norms. What is there was a policy in place that works for everybody else but seems to unfairly disadvantage you or a group of people who share a certain characteristic? This is known a indirect discrimination.
This can be a tricky one to identify as indirect discrimination can entail any business policy, procedure, practice or rule that unfairly affects you. It could be even harder to identify as it is likely that these policies or sets or rules weren’t intended to directly cause a disadvantage and so your discrimination may simply be a bi-product of the way things are currently done. This doesn’t mean it has to continue.
How do you prove indirect discrimination?
If there is a policy that applies to everybody in an organisation, or a group that includes yourself within it, you must be able to show that it unfairly disadvantages you as an individual due to your particular characteristic.
You must be able to prove or show how this particularly policy is going to cause you a grievance that doesn’t apply to others without your particular characteristic. You will also need to understand whether or not there is a reason for applying the policy despite the level of disadvantage it causes, which is where we may be able to help.
Anonymous reporting of discrimination issues, know matter how small or intricate they may seem, offers you the chance to raise the issue without fear of repercussions from bosses or peers.
Victimisation is an interesting one and can apply to everyone whether or not they possess a protected characteristic. It ties in closely to Retaliation Discrimination that we cover in our article on Invisible Discrimination, which you can read here.
This form of discrimination is the worst kind and one that we plan to tackle head on with the introduction of equall. Victimisation occurs when you have undertaken what in the UK they call a ‘protected act’.
This is possibly one of the most damaging types of discrimination out there because it prevents people from reporting the issue in the first place – breaking the cycle that will enable management of the issue.
After reporting an incident, victimisation (or retaliation discrimination) can lead to employees subsequently being exposed to further injustices. Making a discrimination claim, a complaint or supporting someone else by giving evidence of discrimination all become reasons for discrimination themselves, leading to a vicious cycle.
The existence of Victimisation Discrimination means the ‘D’ word can be a scary one to raise amongst peers and with bosses. We want to remove this barrier or potential repurcussions by providing a safe and secure space for you to easily log discrimination issues in your workplace anonymously from the palm of your hand.
Talk to one of the team today about issues affecting you and your workplace, or download the app today.
One of the hardest things about working in the business of ending discrimination is that it is often invisible. We see it all the time – big businesses with flash websites to provide physical evidence, working hard to make their otherwise invisible or intangible services visible. If only we spent this sort of time and these budgets making discrimination visible…
Where is it if we can’t see it?
Discrimination is not just a one off hiring decision. It permeates all workplaces to varying extents depending on how it is managed and mitigated. Perhaps the way you look meant that you either got the job you wanted, or didn’t… without much of an explanation. It might have been a snide remark on your appearance or an item of clothing. It could even be as simple as whether or not you were considered for a promotion or training opportunity, rather than a colleague of a different race or gender. What if your culture or exposure to media at an early age means you ruled out certain careers all together?
In this article we’ll run through some of the less visible forms of discrimination in the labour market that affect both employees and employers and how to spot them.
Spotting Unseen Discrimination
Subtle or casual forms of discrimination can be equally as harmful as the obvious kinds we see in the media. It can be as simple as a subtle look or snide comment, or even more sinister forms of systemic discrimination that means because of your race, gender, ethnicity or age you are less likely that another team member to receive a promotion or training.
Invisible Discrimination In Recruitment
Finding a job is always a tense time for everyone involved – from the pressure of ensuring you perform at your best despite the nerves you might feel – to the pressure on the people interviewing you, who need to ensure they find the perfect candidate for the job. If you are concerned that you may have been discriminated against in a job application process it is important to gather all the facts. Good (potential) employers will be able to give feedback and valid reasons on why your application was unsuccessful.
Tokenism – You’ve Got The Job – But Why?
Many businesses have shunned the traditional recruitment ‘funnel’ in favour of more diverse practices. Some, however, despite their best efforts have simply managed to put lipstick on the gorilla. ‘Tokenism’ occurs when people from ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, women and members of other minority groups are hired simply to fill a quota.
It is worth being aware of this during the hiring process as an applicant. If you get a job to fill part of a quota, rather than because of genuine skill and the workplace valuing diversity, it is likely to become very clear in the subsequent working practices. Employers also need to be aware of this and should always ensure they are hiring candidates for the right reasons. Remember recruitment is just the beginning. This article on Thrive Global sheds more light on the topic.
Societal & Industry Discrimination
This is a biggie and will affect nearly all of us. Have you ever considered how your background, origin, race and gender affected ‘what you wanted to be when you grew up?’ Founder of beauty company June & Co. Mia Torres explains it well by describing how - as a person of colour and the daughter of immigrants - she assumed she had two career path options; to be a figure skater (like Michelle Kwan) or a television broadcaster (like Connie Chung).
By Mia’s consumption of mainstream media and exposure to the beauty industry she had concluded that this would be an industry she would never be able to work in. In 2020 she highlights how the game is changing and how the beauty industry is one where (despite senior management remaining similar) the representation of minorities is slowly changing.
This is possibly one of the most damaging types of discrimination out there. Not only is it invisible but it doesn’t apply to any minority group alone. Retaliation discrimination occurs after a team member has complained of unfair practices, favouritism or harassment in the workplace.
After reporting an incident, retaliation discrimination can lead to employees subsequently being exposed to further injustices and in the worst case can lead to the person losing their job. This is why we believe it is important to start with communication and breaking down these traditional barriers to open up the conversation, without repercussion.
This article by Sapphire Law explains the implications of this as well as the other top types of discrimination in the U.S. today.
Age Discrimination – Less Visible Than Wrinkles
Tech, beauty and fitness (to name a few) are amongst some of the industries that openly practice age discrimination without even knowing they are doing so. From it being inherently set out in the ‘fresh and innovative’ brand identity of a budding tech firm, to more systemic issues where firms find it completely acceptable to terminate the employment of older (often more experienced) worker in favour of younger workers with new ideas.
There is also a arguably darker ‘financial’ side to age discrimination that sees companies subtly replace older workers with younger workers – not because of their fresh ideas and impressive credentials – but because younger workers are often cheaper and cost less in terms of health insurance. Sad but true.
There is also a tricky line to walk in discriminating against older employees for their traditional ideas and lack of inclusive thinking. As an employer is it just to terminate the long-standing employment of an employee who doesn’t believe in inclusivity – or is it your job to educate them? There is a interesting one to ponder with your team…
These can come in many forms and can include issues such as Post Traumatic Dress Disorder (PTSD) through to more acute medical issues like Type 1 Diabetes. In most cases of conditions like this employers need to make appropriate adjustments, within their capabilities to help mitigate any issues that could arise, enabling people to continue with their work.
As an employee, it is your responsibility to notify your employer or potential employer to enable them to make the necessary allowances. As an employer it is your responsibility to gain the appropriate knowledge of the disability and take actionable steps to help provide a reasonable adjustment. This article by Capital Law offers some interesting insight into the topic.
The Effects Of Invisible Discrimination On Employees
The effects of discrimination go far beyond missing out on a job, training or promotion. It can permeate every aspect of a person’s life and seriously impact their mental wellbeing. Beyond Blue covers some interesting information on the invisible discrimination that often affects aboriginal communities in Australia. They outline how in some people this has lead to anxiety, depression and even attempted suicide. This is serious stuff.
The Effects Of Invisible Discrimination On Workplaces
All varieties of workplace discrimination damage not only the individual but the organisation as a whole. It may be invisible at the time but word of invisible discrimination can spread and will inevitably rise to the service.
Maltreatment of employees due to their personal characteristics is bad for company morale and also tarnishes an employer’s reputation in the industry. What was once invisible suddenly becomes a rather large blot on the company’s brand. Time to dig below the service?
How equall Can Help
At equall we understand first hand how invisible discrimination can affect employees and equally how inclusivity can be handled well. We want to help demystify invisible discrimination and break down traditional barriers in communication to bring these issues to the surface.
Talk to one of the team today.
We believe in equality. As a fundamental human right, embracing equality is simply the right thing to do.