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The HR Department.
I have recently noticed that some employees in the company are using inappropriate language at the workplace. The behavior has been going on in the company for some time now, but yesterday, I realized that it has reached an alarming level when an employee casually used fowl language during our board meeting, and when scolded, he simply giggled and went back to his seat without offering any apology to those present.
By fowl language, I mean inappropriate language that may be offensive, sexist, vulgar, racist, or discriminatory.
The problem has been entrenched into the organization such that only a few employees ever complain when a colleague uses inappropriate language, and new employees are quickly pulled into the system as soon as they join the organization. Hardly five minutes elapses before an employee uses a swear word, and nobody ever complains or reports.
Just the other day, we were at the office during the tea break when suddenly, the head of the ICT department came out his office swearing at the local internet service provider for disconnecting the services yet he had sent them a bill a day earlier. Perhaps the bill had not been received or maybe the ISP Company erred, but this did not warrant the use of such strong derogatory words.
When a leader uses such bad language, the likelihood that his juniors will adopt the same language is high. This is exactly what is happening in our organization: junior employees are picking up their leaders’ habits and the trend goes on.
Inappropriate language not only includes vulgar or derogatory language, but includes any word aimed at fellow employees with the intention of hurting them. For example, sometime last week, I heard a male employee refer to a female employee as ‘baby’.
Such language qualifies as sexist language and is a form of sexual harassment against our female staff. This is not an isolated case, instances of sexual harassment and the use of discriminative language against employees are so rampant.
For a company that prides itself of respecting workers rights, I find it annoying that such acts are taking place in our organization right under everyone’s nose. These are only a few examples, like a water drop in the lake. If you could take your time and spend just a few hours in our office, you will get the true picture of the situation.
Effects on the Staff and Organization
Use of inappropriate language at the workplace seriously hampers teamwork among staff thereby leading to a drop in the productivity. However, when it is widespread as in our organization, it can dent the organization’s image and undermine the ethical code of conduct expected of all employees.
Besides, we could lose qualified personnel because of resignations, pay the legal costs harassment if taken to court and found guilty, and even the settlement fee. When it comes to sexist or discriminative language, the consequences are much more serious. Sexual harassment literally affects everyone in an organization, from the organization, victim, and fellow employees.
On the victims, sexual harassment leads to a decrease in output at work and an increase in team disagreements, absence from work to avoid harassment, decreased job happiness, loss of trust among co-workers, and retaliatory actions. Besides, conditions such as stress and depression, anxiety, shame and difficulty in concentration may set in.
Therefore, we must take action immediately to save the situation before it runs out hand. Did you know that under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee in any way whatsoever? Besides, any form of workplace harassment contravenes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
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Preventing Inappropriate Language
In order to combat the use of inappropriate language among our workers, we will have to shift from ethnocentrism to cultural relativism (Chap. 2, Pg. 72). Such a move will enable us to see the deficiency in our culture. We shall enact a number of legislation, some of which had been enacted yet no one cares to follow.
We will enact legislations that prohibit the use of inappropriate language within our buildings and any employee who goes against this legislation will receive a warning, and on subsequent breaking of the rule, a staff member will be placed on probation. Extreme cases of inappropriate language will automatically lead to dismissal: we would rather lose a single employee rather than put the whole organization at risk.
Our policy will be clear on how to report culprits, investigation, and the punishments. The organization must take serious measures on all complaint of inappropriate language. Besides, we will ensure the privacy of those who report their fellow workers to prevent any retaliations, and to improve the work environment. We will also monitor the workplace routinely and to talk freely to workers to determine any issues affecting them.
These plans will only work if the employees understand the importance of working together, therefore, we shall organize team building events after every three months during which workers will trained on cultural and gender sensitivity.
If successfully implemented, this strategy will be a success since employees will feel the importance of proper workplace communication. However, success will not come overnight, as stated in the course book (Chap. 2, Pg. 73), culture is learned and it begins with the understanding of the importance of other cultures and the admission of our culture’s shortcomings. Cultural knowledge will be instilled through team building and training events.