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Dealing with gender discrimination in the workplace

Sexual harassment has become a hot-button issue in California after allegations were made against several prominent figures in the entertainment industry, and research shows that this kind of behavior is also worryingly common in workplaces around the world. Four out of five of the 856 male and female managers in United Kingdom comanies polled by the Chartered Management Institute said that they had either been the victim of or witnessed some form of sexual discrimination or harassment while at work.

The CMI report also revealed that only a quarter of the managers surveyed take gender issues seriously and just 8 percent were aware of the pay gap within their own companies. Common gender issues that emerged in the interviews included male workers taking credit for the ideas of their female colleagues and women in the workplace being viewed as performing administrative rather than managerial functions.

Recommendations for dealing with the issue outlined by CMI include putting policies and procedures into place that make it easier for workers to report workplace discrimination, and challenging managers and supervisors to treat these reports seriously and not respond with rhetoric. According to the CMI, managers could take a positive first step by encouraging female workers to share their day-to-day workplace experiences. Businesses are also encouraged to make accommodations like flexible scheduling for workers with families the norm and not the exception.

Attorneys with experience in workplace harassment and discrimination cases may understand that allegations of unfair treatment made by a single employee are often the sign of a far larger problem. This kind of litigation can cause serious damage to brands and corporate reputations, and employers that allow the the civil rights of their workers to be routinely violated can face severe sanctions. Attorneys may point this out before harassment cases go to court and encourage employers to settle these matters discretely.

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