Today we hosted the first Workplace Fairness Alberta Forum. The opportunity was to discuss what is workplace fairness, and explore how workplace reviews can enhance or build workplace fairness. We had a range of perspectives and experiences in the group. Through speaking of experiences of being treated unfairly in the workplace, a number of themes emerged.
People believe they are being treated fairly in the workplace when:
- · they know they have the same opportunities as their peers;
- · they have clarity on expectations, roles and protocols in their jobs;
- · they are listened to openly, and are able to share their experiences and concerns;
- · they are treated as an individual, and their individual needs are met;
- · they are confident that their manager is looking out for them;
- · there is friendliness and a positive working environment;
- · they receive relevant and appropriate feedback;
- · there is transparency.
Our guest, ombuds and consultant Margery Knorr, shared her experiences doing workplace harassment investigations and reviews. I think many were surprised to learn that more than 95% of the grievances or complaints brought forward as harassment and discrimination are unfounded when measured against human rights legislation.
So we asked the question: how does the process of the workplace review help further workplace fairness when the allegations are unfounded and the parties are left either to regroup and go back to working together or, to go off on a leave of absence or quit?
Margery pointed out that the great value of the workplace review is that it asks questions, and in asking questions and talking to many members of an organization, a cultural snapshot of the organization emerges which serves to unveil hidden assumptions. As indicated by the study and practice of Appreciative Inquiry, asking questions leads to change.
When assumptions are revealed, and when people are transparent with their motives, concerns, and objectives, listen openly to others and treat people according to their individual needs and circumstances, workplace fairness will be enhanced.
Stay tuned to learn about our next Workplace Fairness Forum event. Comments and observations are welcome.