What exactly does prejudice mean?
Prejudice refers to the assumptions, judgements and opinions that someone may hold about an individual, based on that individual’s membership to a particular group. These opinions and assumptions are often unfair and unfounded, and associated with negative connotations. Members of minority groups are particularly, unfairly subject to prejudice attitudes.
Prejudice can manifest itself in many ways, from verbal abuse and harassment, to physical violence and exclusion from opportunities, it can take many forms, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, ageism and many more. It is a violation of human rights and is unlawful in Australia under federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
Addressing prejudice requires education, awareness-raising, and active efforts to challenge discriminatory attitudes and behaviours. Promoting respect for human rights is essential for building a fair and just society.
What is an example of prejudice?
One example of prejudice is when a qualified job applicant is not hired on the basis of their ethnicity. The employer may hold false, negative assumptions that they unfairly associate with their particular ethnic group and believe that they are less competent or reliable than others. As a result, the employer may pass over the qualified candidate in favour of someone less qualified but fits their preconceived notions of what a good employee looks like. This is classified as workplace discrimination. It is crucial to understand how prejudice may look like in the workforce, so it can be addressed and rectified immediately.
Another example may be the prejudice that members of the LGBTQ+ community unfairly face. They may experience discrimination and harassment in many areas of life. Prejudice can also occur in the form of micro-aggressions, which are subtle but hurtful comments or behaviours that convey negative attitudes. Alternatively, there can be more overt behaviours of prejudice that are incredibly harmful. Our template for Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy Template can assist your business in complying with regulations.
How does prejudice affect you?
Although Commonwealth, state and territory prejudice laws generally overlap to prohibit the same type of discrimination, exceptions under one law may not be covered as an exception under the other law. To ensure you are seeking accurate and relevant information please refer to the following state or territory legislation:
- Anti-Discrimination Act (NSW) 1977;
- Equal Opportunity Act (SA) 1984;
- Equal Opportunity Act (WA) 1984
- Discrimination Act (ACT) 1991;
- Anti-Discrimination Act (QLD) 1991;
- Anti-Discrimination Act (NT) 1992;
- Anti-Discrimination Act (Tas) 1998; and
- Equal Opportunity Act (VIC) 2010;
For further information, below are the different types of discrimination laws that have been passed:
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth);
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth);
- Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth);
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth); and
- Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
Failure to comply with these regulations can result in facing legal punishments and fines for employers and the companies involved.
How to avoid prejudice?
To avoid prejudice in the workplace and your life, it is essential to promote a culture of inclusion, respect, and diversity. This can be achieved by:
- Educating oneself about different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives.
- Challenging one’s own biases and assumptions.
- Avoiding stereotypes and making assumptions based on a person’s appearance or social category.
- Encouraging diversity in hiring practices and promoting equal opportunities for all employees.
- Creating a safe and welcoming environment for all individuals, regardless of their background.
- Speaking out against discrimination and prejudice whenever it arises.
- Encouraging open and honest communication, and valuing different opinions and perspectives.
- Providing training and resources to help individuals recognise and address prejudice and discrimination.
- Being mindful of one’s language and behaviour, and showing respect and empathy towards others.
- Celebrating diversity and promoting cultural exchange and understanding.
HR management plays a crucial role in preventing and addressing prejudice in the workplace. Such as developing and implementing policies and procedures that promote diversity, inclusion, and respect for all employees. Having a HR team or someone that can assist your team in following guidelines such as Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and best practices for recruitment, hiring, training, and promotions to ensure that all employees are equal regardless of their background.
Providing training and education to help employees recognise and address prejudice and discrimination.
If you have any questions regarding what prejudice is, or how it might affect you, please do not hesitate to contact our sister company, Legal Kitz to assist you. You can request to book a free 30-minute consultation with their experienced and highly qualified team via our website now.
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