Question of the Day: Anti-Discrimination Training in the Remote Workplace

June 23, 2020

By Emily S. Pontius

Question

Is it okay to postpone anti-discrimination training while employees work remotely?

Answer

No, it is not.

Employers are at the confluence of a global pandemic and a worldwide focus on racial injustice. Even with some, or all, employees working remotely, employers cannot wait to respond to the challenge. If your human resources calendar for 2020 includes anti-discrimination training, it is important to keep those appointments and update training to respond to current needs.

Consider:

  • Inclusive Meetings. Employees notice who is in the room, and not in the room, when a meeting occurs in the office, but conference calls and video conferences fly under the radar without the same accountability. Your next training must challenge leaders to include employees with different viewpoints when they meet to make decisions.
  • Bystander Intervention Training. Traditional anti-discrimination training focuses on a list of things employees should not do or say. Effective training also empowers people to act when they see harassment and marginalizing behaviors that lead to discrimination claims. Incorporate bystander intervention training to show employees what to do and say to de-escalate and intervene when they see and hear poor behavior.
  • The Remote Water Cooler. Your next training must address the expansion in ways employees are communicating with each other while they work remotely. More employees are texting, chatting, instant messaging and using social media platforms outside of your system and beyond the watchful eyes of IT and HR. It is easier than ever for those messages to be recorded, and some employees still think these communications are private.
  • Program Delivery. If you usually have live training in an auditorium or conference room, your training delivery will need to change. Remote training can be effective and interactive, and this is a great opportunity to implement one-on-one remote coaching and discussion groups for leaders and use speakers and other resources outside your local area.

It is tempting to postpone training to a time when things return to normal, but the remote work environment and the current focus on racial injustice only emphasize how important it is for employers to provide resources and training on preventing harassment and discrimination.

If you have questions regarding anti-discrimination training, contact your Fredrikson & Byron Employment & Labor attorney.


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