Gender Discrimination: What it is, how to prevent it, and why employers should


Gender discrimination is more than sexual harassment, much more. And while sexual harassment is a serious occurrence that grabs a lot of attention (deservedly so, check out our blog on the subject) there are unfortunately many other more subtle, and not-so-subtle, examples of gender discrimination occurring in the workplace. This week we’re examining what gender discrimination is, how to avoid it, and why employers should do so.


What is gender discrimination


Gender discrimination is treating an individual differently (often unfairly) on the basis of that person’s sex and/or gender. While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 expressly forbids this*, it is incredibly common in the workplace, and disproportionately affects women of color and transgender women.


Examples of gender discrimination


There are numerous more examples of gender discrimination than we have listed here but the following comprise the most reported cases:


  1. Pay inequity
  2. Hiring prejudice(s)
  3. Limited opportunity for promotion
  4. Fewer benefits offered (or punishment for utilizing available benefits)
  5. Unfair disciplinary actions
  6. Verbal harassment, abuse, and disregard


Why employers should prevent it


It’s required by law not to utilize any form of gender discrimination but there are other reasons why employers should take it seriously, most importantly out of respect for their employees. Employees who are subjected to gender discriminatory practices report adverse effects on their mental and physical health (such as depression and higher suicide risk), decreased productivity, and increased instances of workplace conflict with others. Not to mention that the toxic environment that is created by unfair treatment does nothing to promote talent retention and efficiency. Establishing and maintaining a zero tolerance policy for gender discrimination is a key step in creating a positive company culture.


How employers can prevent it


This is not an exhaustive list but rather a good place to start. Creating a positive workplace culture is a daily commitment to the company values and to the good health of its’ employees. In short, it needs to stay top-of-mind to be effective.


  1. Create a zero tolerance discrimination policy
  2. Educate employees on their rights (this also builds trust, by the way)
  3. Offer flexible schedules to balance work-life obligations and support the use of
  4. Offer comfortable, private rooms for breastfeeding and/or pumping
  5. Host regular anti-discrimination trainings for managers
  6. Address all claims of discrimination


Remember, your employees have the right to work free of discrimination and it is your responsibility as their employer/manager to honor and protect that right. It’s also important to note that it is a much better idea to establish a positive workplace culture than to deal with repeated instances of prejudice. Want to make sure you have the right support to begin? Eos HR is that team. We make sure small business employers have the resources they need to lead a productive and safe workplace. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.


*Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.


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