Discrimination occurs when an individual or group is treated differently from others based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age and mental or physical disabilities. In the United States, it is unlawful to discriminate against protected classes in the workplace. Business owners must protect their staff members, their companies and themselves against this behavior. Eliminating discrimination should rank among the most important aspects of business operations.

Ethical Considerations

Company managers must be cognizant of the ethics in operating an establishment. Taking the moral high ground means treating everyone fairly without consideration of perceived differences. Unbiased supervisors base their decisions and discipline on the actions of employees regardless of any class distinction. This also means supervisors do not favor employees similar to their own backgrounds or ethnicity. Gain feedback from employees concerning possible discrimination. Ask for specific instances of any problems they have had themselves or witnessed. Carefully review reports that indicate unethical behavior so you can address these and prevent recurring problems.

Lawsuits are generally much more damaging to small businesses than to large corporations. The cost of hiring attorneys to fight cases of alleged discrimination can be devastating. Owners and managers of small establishments are bound, as are all employers, by U.S. Executive Order 11246, which forbids discrimination against any person due to national origin, race, gender or religion. Employers should post this regulation in the workplace and ensure all employees, especially those in supervisory and human resources roles, are aware of this labor law.

Individual Excellence

The working culture of your small company should give every employee a voice. By fighting against discrimination, individual employees are given freedom and the belief that they can achieve and ascend in their careers. Often, it is the poorest people who are discriminated against, so giving them opportunities in your workplace encourages the development of self-esteem. Recognize the dignity of each person and celebrate it in an uplifting environment. This benefits each employee, yourself and your small business.

Strong Workforce

Ridding your workplace of discrimination promotes an atmosphere of unity. Your zero tolerance of acts of unfairness along with your personal standards set an example for your employees. When you practice inclusiveness by assigning work teams composed of diverse staff members, it shows your faith in an effective collaboration. Likewise, promoting an individual who uses a wheelchair to a supervisory position illustrates your company's confidence that those with physical differences can perform as well as others in high level positions. A commitment to a discrimination-free environment is conducive to better morale, greater cohesiveness and higher production.