Diversity & Inclusion Means Zero Tolerance for Bullying


Diversity and inclusion cannot exist in a culture that allows bullying in any way. Bullying starts youngexamples of bullying in schools with horrific results, especially suicides, are in the news every day. If bullies are left unchecked when they’re young, they grow up to be bullies in the workplace, which undermines diversity management’s impact.

Bullying in Schools

In all societies, people in underrepresented groups are the traditional victims of bullies. And it starts young. GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network)’s National School Climate study has found that 61 percent of students feel unsafe at school because of their orientation, 39.9 percent because of gender identity, 16.4 percent because of religion, 9.8 percent because of gender, 7.6 percent because of race/ethnicity, and 5.3 percent because of disability.

The impact of school bullying was shown in the recent documentary “Bully.” The impact on youth, their families and the loss of potential talent is devastating.

For resources to stop bullying in schools, visit GLSEN, stopbullying.gov, National Crime Prevention Council, End to Cyber Bullying Organization and Lady Gaga’s recently launched Born This Way Foundation.

Workplace-Diversity Implications

When bullies go unchecked, they grow up to be bullies. They may hide it during the job interview and rise to leadership roles.

But they will continue to target and bully people, most frequently those in underrepresented groups. And instead of fostering an atmosphere where people can bring their whole selves to work and foster innovation, your culture will become one where engagement and retention are seriously undermined.

What You Can Do

A strong diversity and inclusion strategy will give you safeguards to find and address bullying in the workplace, but you must ensure these practices are available consistently across your organization. Read Diversity & Inclusion Means ‘You Can’t Afford to Be Dismissing People’s Ideas’ to learn how this CEO’s commitment to diversity and inclusion increased innovation at Ameren.

  • Clearly State and Communicate Values: Mission statements and consistent values that are inclusive of every group must be visibly present on the website and in other prominent communications. Most importantly, they must come from the CEO and be supported by senior leaders. Read Ask the White Guy: Decision Making, Clarity of Values & What to Do When It Goes Horribly Wrong.

  • Resource Groups: Your resource groups are your first and best line of defense. Well-developed groups, with the ability to regularly communicate with senior executives, including the CEO, can tell you what’s going on and help create culturally competent solutions. Senior executives who sponsor groups outside of their own demographics often become more inclusive leaders. Watch Diversity Web Seminar: Resource Groups.
  • Diversity Training: Mandatory diversity training that goes beyond compliance and addresses specific cultural-competence education is vital, especially for those who don’t “get” diversity and inclusion and may be bullies. It’s important to follow up and measure the success of training to make sure you have the right programs in place. Read Do White Men Really Need Diversity Outreach

  • Mentoring: Cross-cultural mentoring allows individuals to get to know people from underrepresented groups and to “walk in another person’s shoes.” The bidirectional aspect of mentoring, especially for white, male executives, can reduce bullying through cultural education. Read Cross-Cultural Mentoring: How IBM, E&Y & Kraft Increase Diversity in Management.
  • Legal/HR Repercussions: If despite all your diversity-management efforts, instances of bullying occur, it is vital to address them quickly and severely. Understand what is legal and what is not, and work with your HR department to ensure nothing is being ignored. DiversityInc is holding a one-day workshop Sept. 13 on Managing Relationships Between HR & Diversity Departments, and bullying will be a major topic.

For more resources on diversity and inclusion awareness, go to DiversityInc.com/diversity-facts.

–Barbara Frankel

Latest News

Southern Company Commits $700,000 To Advance Racial Equity and Social Justice for the AAPI Community

Originally published at southerncompany.mediaroom.com. Southern Company ranked No. 20 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   The Southern Company Gas Charitable Foundation is announcing plans to donate $700,000 across its service territories to charities in support of improving equity and social justice. On the six-month…

Oak Park, Illinois

Illinois Professor Suspended, Charged with Hate Crime After Allegedly Spitting on Black Woman and Using Racial Slur

An Illinois professor has been suspended from his job and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly spat on and racially attacked a Black female driver in a suburban Chicago grocery store parking lot earlier this month. Antonio Planas of NBC News has reported that Alberto Friedmann, a professor…

Joaquin Castro

New Research Shows a Continued Lack of Hispanic and Latinx Representation in Movies, Media and Publishing

In a bit of disheartening news in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, a new government study has confirmed that Latinx individuals are vastly under-included and underrepresented in many parts of the media world. Astrid Galvan of the Associated Press reported on the study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office,…

Newberg, Oregon

Oregon School Employee Suspended for Showing Up to Work in Blackface To Protest State Vaccination Policies

Racial controversies continue to mount at the Newberg Public School system located in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. Last week, students in the district’s high school conducted a mock “slave auction” on social media in which they ridiculed fellow classmates and discussed how much they would or wouldn’t pay to…