What and when is zero-discrimination day? What can we do as an organization to make zero-discrimination day work for us?
Zero discrimination day is an annual day celebrated on the 1st March. Created by the UNAIDS Executive Director, Micheal Sidibé in 2014. The day celebrates and promotes equality. It aims to engender people to practice equality throughout their daily activities. The day is particularly prominent for organizations combating HIV and AIDS. Zero discrimination day has now been adopted by campaigners speaking out about LGBTQ+ discrimination. The day aims to promote equality before the law and in practice throughout all of the member countries of the UN.
Zero-discrimination day aims to show people how they can become informed about and promote inclusion, peace and compassion for all. The emblem for zero-discrimination day highlights this. The movement uses a butterfly, which is suggested to represent a message of transformation and trying to encourage people to share their stories.
This year zero-discrimination day falls on Monday the 1st March. The focus this year is on discrimination against women and girls. So what can you do in your organization to celebrate zero-discrimination day? We’ve got some ideas for you, but first we recommend reading the UNAIDS zero-discrimination booklet.
Why not schedule a company wide equality training workshop? Equality and diversity training will not only highlight the issue of discrimination, it helps align people to a goal of an inclusive environment, which respects and values everyone in the workplace. It enables people to work together effectively and creates a healthy environment of inclusivity.
Signs, posters, a little email. All gentle reminders that today is zero-discrimination day. Alternatively, have posters up all year round. What’s the point of having just for one day? Why not have gentle reminders available to employees all year round. You can design your own posters, or UNAIDS has some ready made for you.
What about a keynote speaker? A keynote speaker is a talk from a known individual or expert, which establishes an underlying theme. This could be integrated into other zero-discrimination activities, i.e. a workshop. Keynote speakers usually raise interest in a specific event or topic. Think about bringing a speaker who has previous experience working in fields dealing with discrimination, someone who has been subject to discrimination, an academic with a particular focus on discrimination or someone with a very different perspective on discrimination to the norm.
Recruiting new staff is exciting. If you’re just starting to recruit staff, you're entering a brave new world. If you are a big company you can always improve your hiring process. Perhaps the first step to promoting a zero-discrimination culture, is to implement an effective recruitment strategy which avoids discrimination. How do you do that? Firstly, advertise your job widely, and not in singular places which attract similar groups. Secondly, in the person specification and criteria, avoid loaded language and be objective for the role. Don’t describe a certain person, describe the role.Try and avoid unconscious biases throughout the recruitment process During interviews their are given questions you cannot ask, i.e questions based on age or prospective children. Finally it is imperative that you maintain a record of your decision making and contact with potential employees.
Creating an environment which is inquisitive and open to supportive dialogue is bound to help drive you towards zero-discrimination culture. Try and create a culture where people can ask about others’ backgrounds and cultures, and an environment where people feel comfortable explaining said background to others. A big misconception is that with a lack of knowledge comes the fact that you may want to try and avoid these types of conversations. But without encouraging people to learn from others, you can’t reach a point of inclusivity at work.
Regular training, diversity, awareness and anti-discrimination are great ways to maintain a zero-discrimination culture. Training helps employees become more aware of unconscious biases, unknown knowledge and other barriers to inclusivity. Training of this type can motivate positive behaviours and change attitudes in the workplace. It also helps to create a culture of respect, diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.
It is essential, in order to achieve zero-discrimination, to have proper equality, diversity and anti-discrimination procedures and policies. They are needed to protect employees from individual discrimination and structural discrimination. They are needed to protect the opportunities and rights of different groups of people. Make sure to have proper structure, processes and policies in place. You can have a look at ours here.
Making people aware of their unconscious bias is tough. Training and workshops are a great method to try and make this happen. By promoting awareness of possible biases, it makes people more receptive to others’ position. By not addressing unconscious bias it can lead to unintentional discrimination and poor decision making.
So with zero-discrimination day just around the corner it’s time to think about how you can create a culture of openness, diversity and inclusivity. Think about trying these strategies for zero-discrimination day, and also for creating a culture of zero-discrimination at your organization.