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Why does discrimination in the workplace exist?

Discrimination in the workplace can affect someone’s career significantly, as it creates a hostile work environment. The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines employment discrimination as unfair treatment towards someone because of their race, color, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability, age, national origin, genetic information and religion. 

But why does it exist? Here are some of the underlying issues:


Stereotypes about different groups exist in society — and people have ideas about how they should behave, dress, look or talk. And these stereotypes are extended into the workplace with people from a particular group receiving certain tasks or others commenting about exaggerated beliefs they have heard. 


While stereotypes are thoughts or ideas about a particular group, prejudice is a belief, feeling or attitude (usually negative) toward them. Prejudice is based on stereotypes – the difference is with prejudice someone applies a stereotype to another. For example, treating someone differently or not liking them because of a preconceived opinion of a group they belong to. 

In most cases, workplace discrimination is the outcome of prejudice. Prejudice can turn into bigotry, an extreme stance against people of a certain group.

Can workplace discrimination be prevented?

Workplaces can prevent discrimination by employing policies that restrict employees and seniors from making comments or remarks about groups. It will also help to train employees on anti-discrimination laws regularly. Employers should also encourage employees to respect and embrace each other’s differences. 

In addition, a company should be careful about the laws it implements. Rules on language, dress code and other crucial aspects can discriminate against a group. For this reason, they should be avoided.  

If you experience discrimination in your workplace, it helps to obtain more information about your rights.  You should also get professional guidance to determine the most suitable ways to protect your future.