When facing bullying or discrimination at work, it can be hard to know what to do. Experiencing discrimination based on protected characteristics can be an isolating and challenging experience. It is essential to know there are protocols and systems in place to support and protect you at work. One of those is Human Resources, also known as HR.

In this guide, we are going to tell you a little more about the support you can receive from HR. We believe that everyone should know their rights at work. Knowing what you are entitled to and how you access it is vital to a happy and safe career. So let’s discuss some more about HR and how they can help.

What is HR?

HR is the department that manages all employee-related processes from recruitment right the way through to off-boarding and dismissal.

They manage all employment contracts, pay, training, benefits, and possibly most importantly, conduct disciplinary actions. Their primary role is to support employees and act as a resource. They help provide complex and multifaceted support in employment, whether it be practical, logistical or related to a more sensitive topic such as bullying. 

How big the department is and who is included in the team will vary from workplace to workplace. However, there should be at least one person per workplace in an HR role. For larger businesses, there should be a much bigger team.

How Can HR Help with Discrimination?

Discrimination at work can only be dealt with by raising it with those who can help and support you. Keeping it invisible allows it to continue. Bringing it to attention helps it to be dealt with and rooted out of the company. It is normal to feel uncomfortable raising an issue with your manager, so you may choose to arrange a meeting with somebody from HR who you trust and feel supported by. This helps to keep disclosures accessible.

If an employee feels another staff member has mistreated them, they can take their complaint to HR. You can do this informally in the form of a conversation. For example, you might raise some concerns you have for a second opinion on how you should move forwards, or respond to a particular request from another employee. HR can also help you to do this formally through a written complaint or by raising a grievance. 

When raising a grievance, the person managing the issue must be impartial. This means they can’t have had anything to do with the incident that has occurred, which is why HR is an excellent place to turn to. They will be able to mediate and manage the situation from an outside perspective with no bias

HR can also be supportive in the workplace by encouraging an awareness of discrimination issues before they happen. If you feel that your workplace could better support inclusivity and diversity through some training or education, you can raise this with HR. They will be able to implement and oversee any new training opportunities and monitor their success. 

HR is also in charge of recruitment, which is an area of business which is often affected by unconscious bias and other discriminatory beliefs. If you feel that your employer’s recruitment process could be improved, or expanded to reach more diverse candidates, you can make a formal suggestion to HR. If the recruitment process in a workplace is exclusionary, we can never see equality, diversity and inclusion at any other stage of employment. This means that tackling the problems in recruitment can have a very influential impact on a company-wide scale. 

How Can I Contact HR?

You can contact HR at any time during your employment for help and support. As we mentioned, their size will depend on the size of the organisation or company you work for; large businesses and public-sector organisations will have huge HR departments with hundreds of staff members. Employees can usually contact them by email, or if you work in an office, you can visit them. 

If you feel discriminated against at work and need extra support, there are resources available to you. Speak to Citizens Advice or visit the government website to find out more. Remember how important it is to disclose discrimination when it happens. You deserve the right support in this scenario.

If your workplace doesn’t have an adequate HR department and you don’t feel safe or supported, you might be considering a new job. To find somewhere equal and diversity-positive, you can check out our inclusive job board on Aspiring to Include. We post jobs from accessible employers who have their employees’ best interests at heart.

It is always worthwhile to work somewhere you are respected and listened to. If you aren’t getting that, consider doing what is best for you. 

If you need us, we will see you over on Aspiring to Include.