X is for...


X is for...Well apparently lots of things, but not much to do with HR if truth be told! There is not much we can do with xylophone or x-ray (we tried), so we’re going out on a tenuous limb with this one and going for Xenophobia. Xenophobia is a fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign. While it is separate from racism it may of course drive behaviour that could be construed as racist under the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act 2010 sets out 9 protected characteristics (nope, none of those start with X either), one of which is ‘race’, and another relevant here - ‘religion or belief’. The Act prevents discrimination, harassment and victimisation on these characteristics and when there is no limit on the compensation that can be awarded in a discrimination claim, it is something to take seriously.

Of course, Xenophobia wouldn’t necessarily translate into discriminatory acts, but it’s not too far fetched to consider that it might. As an employer you should be providing regular training to your team to ensure that they are not acting in ways that may be discriminatory, not just to stay out of a tribunal but to create an environment where everyone can thrive. You will set the tone of your business and as such you should be regularly checking in on the diversity of your team. Do all the people you trust look like you? Are you seeking the opinion of the same people and taking that to be the truth? Looking around your team, does it look diverse to you?

If not, it doesn’t automatically translate to you being a xenophobe of course, but we’re naturally programmed at an unconscious level to relate more to people we feel are like us. As a business owner, this could be playing out in the people you recruit, who you promote and who are your trusted advisors. Diversity in your team will lead to diversity of thinking which leads to more creativity, better problem solving and an enriched work experience for everyone. Guess what, all of that will lead to a better business too.

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