In light of misinformation about the COVID-19 virus, the U.S. continues to experience an alarming increase of xenophobic and racist incidents towards individuals of Chinese or Asian descent. According to the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), that includes more than 2 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders actively in the workforce.
Misleading rhetoric and damaging social stigmas have become so widespread that the White House and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have both released statements clarifying that being of Asian descent in no way increases a person's chance of getting or spreading COVID-19. Even so, Stop AAPI Hate reported that there were at least 3,795 hate incidents against the AAPI community between March 19, 2020 and February 28, 2021.
As a result of the recent shootings in Atlanta and public outcry against racially motivated violence, many employers are now looking for ways to eliminate discrimination in the workplace and protect AAPI employees more directly.
Asian Hate in the Workplace
When it comes to promoting diversity and upholding inclusivity, how your business responds to racism and social injustice matters. When issues like #blacklivesmatter and #stopasianhate are trending, no response can be taken as a response—especially when more than 35% of racially-based incidents occur at businesses.
According to Stop AAPI Hate’s report, the most common types of Asian discrimination to occur are verbal harassment (68%), shunning (20%), and assault (11%) with women accounting for 68% of the targeted victims. Recognizing these sorts of statistics will help you take decisive action and provide better support as a whole.
How Your Business Can Combat Asian Hate
It goes without saying, but fear of the coronavirus cannot be allowed to dictate or justify oppressive behavior by members of your hourly workforce or by any of your customers or clients towards the AAPI community. In order to ensure you are doing your part to prevent it, consider taking the following actions as an organization:
- Condemn anti-Asian discrimination directly. This means more than just letting your workforce know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of spreading the coronavirus or punishing racist behavior after the fact. It can also mean using social media to speak out as an organization, publishing an official statement condemning racism and violence against the AAPI community, publishing signage at job sites in support of AAPI workers, and checking in on effected employees periodically.
- Prepare your workforce with bystander intervention training. If one of your employees is witnessing some form of discrimination, ideally you want them to feel knowledgeable on how to respond and proactively intervene. However, without proper training, your workforce won’t know how to do things like creating physical separations between hostile and targeted parties, distract hostile individuals, and report incidents. Offer as much education for encountering or dealing with hate incidents as possible.
- Take language seriously. Things like outbreak-related jokes or flippant remarks about the virus can easily fuel harmful stereotypes, misinformation about the pandemic, and harm to individual workers and communities. In response to both blatantly and subtlety inappropriate comments, make it clear that COVID-19 jokes are not funny or that prejudiced implications are incorrect and unacceptable.
- Nurture HR initiatives. Consider taking time to examine how you might be perpetuating anti-Asian discrimination in your workforce, such as within your hiring practices, pay inequities, and promotions practices. You can partner with support services or offer internal counseling, as well as publish official protocol against racial discrimination in your COVID-19 response plan to expand your efforts.
Bystander Intervention Training with LMS
Hundreds of hourly workforce businesses depend on EPAY Systems for award-winning workforce management. However, we do more than just track and manage hourly workers. We help you optimize and protect your operational integrity.
Our Human Capital Management platform includes a Learning Management System and access to HR Consulting services. We can help you share critical COVID-related information with all your employees with ease, assist with pre-made or personalized courses, and provide guidance for dealing with stressful situations like those relating to discrimination.