The recent case of Forstater v CGD has highlighted the importance of reviewing working policies and procedures within companies. In this case, Forstater, claimed discrimination against her beliefs after expressing her beliefs regarding gender identity on social media. This decision would lead to her work contract not being renewed by her employer.
One tweet put out by Forstater on the issue would state “Yes I think that male people are not women. I don’t think being a woman/ female is a matter of identity or womanly feelings. It is biology”
The case garnered a lot of mainstream attention, with the likes of JK Rowling tweeting out in support of Forstater.
“Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill”JK Rowling on twitter
The implications for employers coming from this case are clear. Furthermore, this article will show that clear working policies are essential to ensure an environment safe from bullying and harassment. Thus, these should also reinforce company values for staff and help avoid legal action being taken.
Part 1 – Social Media Working Policies
An issue raised from the Forstater vs SGD case, is that Forstater’s tweets were published through her own private account. However, cases prior have shown that activity from an employees private accounts can have serious effects on a companies’ public image.
This is why it is important for employers to include a clear social media working policy within their handbooks. These should set out clear guidelines for both personal and professional social media usage, such as with company accounts. The policy should also clearly define the consequences of breaching these policies. This in turn will help avoid legal action and further disputes.
Part 2 – Workplace Handbooks
Gender identity is a subject in which many people have very strong and differing opinions and beliefs. Some may feel bullied, offended or discriminated with comments passed regarding gender identity. Therefore, it is important to have clear anti-bullying and harassment policies set out within employee handbooks. These should outline the behaviour expected from employees and the consequences for breaching these.
In addition, having a clear whistleblowing and grievance policy will ensure staff know how to raise concerns and will help employees feel protected and supported within a company.
Where gender identity are concerned, having clear equal opportunities policies will ensure that a company is inclusive and supports diversity.
With many employees now working from home, employers may have to adapt how they manage their staff. Read our article on managing performance remotely.
Part 3 – Staff Training and Education
2021 has been an important and progressive year for diversity across the globe. Movements such as Black Lives Matter have sparking debate around race issues and discrimination. Furthermore, the LGBTQ+ community continue to raise awareness of discrimination against different sexual and gender identities. Business owners should use the opportunity to reflect upon their own companies. They should ensure that workers have adequate training for inclusion and diversity to help prevent issues of bullying and discrimination within their workforce.
Such training should bring the workforce together as a collective rather than as a group of individuals. It should demonstrate the practical applications of how to implement diversity in the workplace and let employers be aware of how to raise concerns and have their voices heard.
A key part of managing employees is the handling of disputes which can be costly. Read this article on the costs of workplace disputes to find out more.
For more information regarding workplace policies and handbooks, contact us.
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