Wednesday 25 March 2020

Ways to tackle sexual discrimination at work

Even though there is legislation in place to prevent sexual discrimination in the workplace, unfortunately, there are still many cases where this occurs. Sexual discrimination comes in many different forms and can affect both men and women. In many instances, it is considered to be harassment, victimisation and bullying. This kind of behaviour can be extremely upsetting to the person involved and can have a negative and detrimental effect on their mental wellbeing.

As an employer or employee, it’s important to recognise when sexual discrimination occurs, deal with it appropriately and put systems into place that will prevent it from happening in the future.

What is sexual discrimination?

Although it may come under many different guises, here are some examples of the types of sexual discrimination you might experience at work.

  • Different rates of pay for male and females doing the same job.
  • Employing someone based purely on their sex.
  • Being made to wear specific clothing that is associated with being male or female. For example, if women are made to wear skirts and heeled shoes at work.
  • Being made redundant or dismissed because of your sex.
  • Training or specific roles within the company only being offered to one sex.
  • Refusing flexible working hours to enable a parent to take their child to school.
  • Comments about someone’s appearance.
  • Sexist remarks or jokes.
  • Sexual harassment such as inappropriate physical advances or verbal suggestive remarks, and offensive comments related to a person’s sex.

The Independent reported on a recent study undertaken by researchers from the University College of London, that women who have been subjected to sexual discrimination are more likely to suffer from depression as a result, and 26% reported psychological distress.

As an employee experiencing sexual discrimination, it is important to tackle the issue either directly with the person involved, your boss, or a member of the company’s HR team. We understand this may seem like a daunting subject to broach and you might be worried about the consequences, however, Citizens Advice can provide you with further guidance.

Ways to deal with sexual discrimination

  • Keep a record of any incidents, making sure you document the date and specific behaviour or comments.
  • Make the person involved aware that you find their comments or behaviour offensive, it makes you feel uncomfortable and you would like them to stop.
  • Speak to someone in HR or someone in authority at work. 
  • Get advice from ACAS or Citizens Advice.

If the sexual discrimination continues or is not dealt with, you may have to seek legal advice.

As an employer, it is vital that you put procedures into place to prevent sexual discrimination in the workplace. You can also get further information and advice from ACAS about how to prevent sexual harassment, discrimination and victimisation.

Helping people who are depressed or with other mental health issues as a result of discrimination

Providing an opportunity for employees impacted by discrimination to talk to a trained therapist about their experiences and feelings, can help them continue to work, or get back to work as soon as possible. 

First Psychology Assistance provides a range of services for organisations and businesses including online counselling and psychological therapy. For further details visit our website. We also provide bespoke and off the shelf training solutions to support mental health at work.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Coping with unemployment

Worrying about unemployment is a frightening thought and, for some of us, a constant worry. With current economic pressures and the increase of online businesses, more and more companies are struggling to keep going. This sad reality means that, each year, many employees find themselves without a job.

Perhaps you’ve just left school or university and you’re only just beginning your career search. Whatever your circumstance, being out of work can be extremely daunting and can cause a huge amount of stress and anxiety. Initially, your greatest fear of being unemployed might be how you’re going to cope financially, but this could then lead on to more worrying issues.

Research is ongoing at the University of Cambridge to discover why unemployment is detrimental to our health and wellbeing.

How unemployment can affect us

Being out of work for long periods of time can take its toll on our mental wellbeing and it can affect us in different ways:

  • The financial burden of not being able to pay our bills can create anxiety.
  • Unsuccessful job applications and interviews can lead to a lack of self-worth and self-confidence.
  • Our quality of life is affected and we’re no longer able to enjoy costly social activities, holidays or material goods.
  • Financial stress can cause arguments at home with partners and family.

Owing to difficult situations and a feeling of hopelessness, the ongoing effects of being out of work can spiral out of control unless we take certain actions to deal with the problem.

Steps to coping with unemployment

Seek financial help – As soon as you find yourself out of work, get in touch with local or national organisations that can give you financial advice. You might find that you are entitled to certain benefits, and there are also temporary measures that can be put in place to help with paying your mortgage or rent. Speak to the bank and any lenders you may owe money to as most are usually understanding and might offer a short-term payment break. The Money Advice Service has a handy checklist to follow online.

Speak to a close friend or family member –  Talking to someone can help ease the burden and possibly offer an alternative perspective on your situation. They might even come up with some positive ideas that you hadn’t thought of so try not to keep everything bottled up.

Schedule fun time – Make sure you still schedule time for enjoying yourself. Not everything has to cost money. Go out walking, Skype or visit friends or take up a new hobby (there are lots of great YouTube videos on all sorts of topics to help you learn new skills). Also, many local leisure centres offer activities that are free if you’re in receipt of certain allowances.

Keep a routine – When you’re unemployed, it can be easy to fall out of a routine and this can result in a lack of motivation. You’ll find if you stick to a routine, it’s less likely feelings of a lack of self-worth will creep in. Getting up at a reasonable time in the morning, dressing as though you were going to work and planning tasks for the day will help you remain focused. Devote a few hours each day to your job search, contacting potential employers and preparing for interviews.

Stay positive – Try to avoid negativity and keep a positive frame of mind by practising positive affirmations, visualisation techniques and meditation. These kinds of activities can help reduce feelings of anxiety which, in turn, can lead to depression or serious physical conditions caused by ongoing stress.

Keep yourself healthy – By maintaining a healthy diet and undertaking regular exercise, both your physical and mental wellbeing will benefit. It’s scientifically proven that food and mood go hand in hand so make sure you’re eating the right things. Mind has lots of helpful tips for healthy eating.

Network – Networking is a great way to find potential job openings as well as giving you the opportunity to socialise and meet new people. Try and find some networking groups - there are lots of specific groups on social networking platforms as well as real life face to face groups. Keeping in touch with positive minded people can help keep you motivated. Join social media groups in the areas that you’re interested in as very often people post vacancies or offer advice online.

Do charity work – By helping others, you’ll not only feel like you have a sense of purpose, you could gain new skills and it could also impress a potential employer and give you the edge in an interview situation.