Stop Discrimination at Work without A Formal Grievance

Hi there. I'm Russell Stratton, president and leadership champion with Bluegem learning. I work with organizations just like yours to help develop managers to build engagement and improve individual and team performance.

As we get ever closer to our Respect at Work Lunch & Learn, I'd like to introduce a concept referred to as "The Spectrum of Challenge".

In our previous video we were talking about "The Prejudice/Discriminator Model" and I was emphasizing the importance of all of us stepping in to take action when we see things like victimization, harassment and bullying in the work-place.

These things we know are wrong and that we should take action, but often people say to me, "What can I do, Russ? I'm not somebody's manager. How do I deal with this?"

Or "I am someone's manager and I'm not sure the best approach".

Indeed, stepping up and taking action in these situations can often sound easier than it actually is, and that's what the Spectrum of Challenge is going to help us with.

There a number of ways that we can deal with issues of prejudice and discrimination in the workplace that don't necessarily involve formal management action or a formal grievance being raised.

The first and most impressive I've seen of these is seed sowing - and I'd like to give you a real-life example.

I was working with an organization some years ago when there was a member of a team who decided that he felt comfortable to come out and tell his coworkers that he was homosexual.

Shortly after coming out to his co-workers, people's behavior towards him started to change. Colleagues didn't want to go to the gym with him at lunchtime anymore. People stopped sitting next to him in the lunch room, and on one occasion he found that there was a knife, fork, spoon and a mug in the right, bright Chrome, which had his name put on it. He was asked, "Could you just use this one and not the communal ones".

Now you can imagine the guy was pretty upset about this. He went to speak to his boss and his boss was prepared to speak to people and tell them to stop.

Fearing this could make matters worse, this gentleman suggested trying something a little bit less formal that might get the message across.

They both gave it some thought, and made the decision to go online to find a really effective poster detailing homophobia and impacts of homophobic behavior in the workplace which was posted in their meeting room where folks came for their pre-shift briefings. It was posted on the wall so that everybody could see it.

Interesting, over the next couple of days as people came in for the pre-work briefing, they would see this poster and then they would go off on their work and within just two or three days people's behavior started to change. The guys that didn't want to go to the gym with him anymore started going to the gym with them again and actually suggested perhaps he joined them for their, after work hockey game. The people that didn't sit next to him in the break room now saw it sitting with him again and interestingly the knife fork spoon and Mark with his name on it disappeared and were never seen again.

This example illustrates how seed sowing in people's minds can bring awareness to people about their behavior and how it was having an impact on a coworker they had known for years.

Now there are three more solutions for dealing with workplace discrimination that we want to cover in this series, starting with "Hypothetical Reframing".

I'll be sharing those with you in my next article, but if you can't wait, DOWNLOAD OUR FREE PDF NOW and you can get that information straight away.

Don't forget, if you want more information about respect at work, click on the link below for more information about our lunch and learn.

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"Bluegem Learning & Development and Corporate Culture Shift have presented two very effective and interactive workshops with our organization. Their comedic and engaging presentation style in the ‘Managing the Unmanageable’ workshop has left a lasting impression on our staff. I highly recommend this workshop if you are looking for a valuable, cost effective customer service training option."

- Jeff Gerestein, City of Brooks

"Russell produced a highly engaging HR programme that reflected our organisational issues. He is without doubt an outstanding training deliverer, challenging managers to address what can be difficult HR issues. I highly recommend Russell, and would always seek to engage Russell on future learning development opportunities."

- Sharon Gartland, DSG Consultancy Services

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Russell Stratton

Leadership Champion

RUSSELL STRATTON is an international Leadership Expert, Professionally Certified Trainer and Coach, with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. He is co-author of the book 'I Need to F@#king Talk To You - The Art Of Navigating Difficult Workplace Conversations'.


He is a Master Facilitator for Bluegem Learning's ground breaking "Leadership Success" workshop series - providing a practical toolkit for building engagement and improving individual and team performance. Using live actors in a stop/start forum theatre approach and a combination of dynamic experiential learning techniques, participants come away with a greater ability to actually perform better as employees and leaders in your organization.


He is an accomplished management education, learning & development professional with a proven track record of working with clients in the public, voluntary and private sectors to achieve lasting, measurable step changes in business performance.


Russell works internationally with a wide range of organizational cultures and with all levels from front line customer facing staff to executive management boards. Having worked as both a Personnel Manager and Operational Manager he works at both strategic and tactical levels.

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