Discrimination in the Workplace

Format
Let's Talk Science

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Students define workplace discrimination and analyze scenarios.

Summary

  • Students will define workplace discrimination and practice identifying it
  • Students will use critical thinking skills to analyze examples of discrimination in the workplace and its impact on employees
  • Students will collaborate with their peers to develop strategies to address workplace discrimination

Setting the Stage

Many individuals experience discrimination in their daily lives. Discrimination in the workplace can have huge impacts on employee wellbeing, career progression, and income. Defining discrimination and discussing specific examples empowers students. This knowledge may help them address discrimination, either as an ally or as the recipient of discrimination. Learning about the effects of discrimination promote empathy in students and contributes towards building a more equitable society. 

In this lesson, students define discrimination and learn about the different grounds that discrimination may be based on. Then, students analyze different scenarios of workplace discrimination, thinking about its impact on the involved parties. Finally, students reflect on what they have learned. 

Materials & Preparation

  • Workplace Discrimination Scenarios Reproducible (1 per student or small group) [Google doc] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy
  • Workplace Discrimination Scenario Analysis Reproducible (1 per student or small group) [Google doc] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy

In School

  • sticky notes

At Home

What To Do

Part 1: What is Discrimination? 

  • Teachers could begin by asking students what they think discrimination means. Students could work in groups or as a class to come up with definitions of discrimination. 

According to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, “Discrimination is an action or a decision that treats a person or a group badly for reasons such as their race, age or disability. These reasons, also called grounds, are protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act.”

Teachers could also share the following list of grounds for discrimination from the Canadian Human Rights Commission: race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, disability, genetic characteristics, and a conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended.

Discrimination Wordcloud
Grounds for discrimination Wordcloud (©2020 Let’s Talk Science)
  • Teachers could lead a discussion about discrimination based on the following questions. 
    • How were the definitions of discrimination that you came up with similar or different from the Canadian Human Rights Commission definition? 
    • Why is it important to clearly define discrimination? 
    • Why might it be important to have a clear list of grounds for discrimination?
    • Does someone need to be intentionally treating a person or group badly based on one of these grounds for discrimination to occur? Can discrimination occur unintentionally? 
      • If students don’t bring it up on their own, teachers should point out that discrimination can occur unintentionally. 
  • Teachers could also point out that discrimination sometimes occurs on a systematic level and other times during individual interactions with others. Teachers could distinguish between microaggressions and macroaggressions by sharing the following definitions. 
    • Macroaggressions: Systemic structures that discriminate against people or groups
    • Microaggressions: Person-to-person discrimination that often takes place in social interactions

Part 2:  Discrimination in the Workplace

  • Once students have a good understanding of what discrimination is, teachers could tell students that they will be learning about discrimination in the workplace. Teachers could tell students that both macroaggressions and microaggressions occur at work. Being able to identify that discrimination is occurring is an important step towards stopping it and creating an equitable workplace. Teachers may also point out that while these scenarios all occur in workplaces, similar situations may occur in schools as well. 
  • Students will work in groups to read the workplace discrimination situations in the Workplace Discrimination Scenarios reproducible and answer the questions in the Workplace Discrimination Scenario Analysis reproducible.
  • Teachers could discuss students’ responses in the Scenario Analysis reproducible and lead a discussion based on the following guiding questions. 
    • How does workplace discrimination affect employees and employers?
    • How is workplace discrimination similar or different to discrimination that may take place in school? 
    • Why is it important to practicing identifying discrimination and explaining why an action might have been discriminatory?
Worker facing discrimination in warehouse
Worker facing racial discrimination (Fertnig via iStockphoto).

Part 3: Reflecting on Discrimination

  • Students could participate in a closing reflection activity. Teachers could give each student two sticky notes. On one sticky note, students could write one thing they learned or realized about workplace discrimination during the lesson. On the other sticky note, students could write something they still wonder about workplace discrimination. Students could display their sticky notes at the front of the classroom or on the Workplace Discrimination Reflection Jamboard

Details

Assessment

  • Teachers could assess students’ understanding of workplace discrimination by reviewing their responses in the Scenario Analysis reproducible.
  • Teachers could assess collaboration skills by observing students working together to analyze the workplace discrimination scenarios. 
  • Teachers could assess student engagement based on participation in class and small group discussions. 
     

Assessment

  • Teachers could assess students’ understanding of workplace discrimination by reviewing their responses in the Scenario Analysis reproducible.
  • Teachers could assess collaboration skills by observing students working together to analyze the workplace discrimination scenarios. 
  • Teachers could assess student engagement based on participation in class and small group discussions. 
     

Additional Resources

  • Discrimination in the Workplace Suggested Resources [Google doc] [PDF]

This is a collection of Canadian resources on workplace discrimination compiled by Let's Talk Science, including prompting videos and text to initiate discussion with students.

In this activity from the Australian Human Rights Commission, students analyze additional workplace discrimination scenarios. 

These activities from the Ontario Human Rights Commission give additional ways for students to explore workplace discrimination including examples of how real discrimination cases were resolved. Though this was developed for students in Ontario, it is relevant for students across Canada.

Additional Resources

  • Discrimination in the Workplace Suggested Resources [Google doc] [PDF]

This is a collection of Canadian resources on workplace discrimination compiled by Let's Talk Science, including prompting videos and text to initiate discussion with students.

In this activity from the Australian Human Rights Commission, students analyze additional workplace discrimination scenarios. 

These activities from the Ontario Human Rights Commission give additional ways for students to explore workplace discrimination including examples of how real discrimination cases were resolved. Though this was developed for students in Ontario, it is relevant for students across Canada.

Downloads

Downloads