Our recent post asking “how many times an employee must endure a crude and offensive racial or other epithet for the situation to become a hostile work environment” drew a very insightful comment from a reader, Kristin Messerli, founder/CEO of Cultural Outreach Solutions in the Tulsa area.   We described a number of sorry cases where employees made racial and sexual epithets in the workplace, and otherwise sexually and racially created a hostile work environment, and a number of readers wondered how an employer could let this happen.

Kristin observed that in her work she has frequently found that workplaces are infused with “racial pressures and discrimination” which goes unobserved by management.  It is likely that the same could be said about sexual harassment.

Is management simply unaware or oblivious, or is the workplace environment top-down, and employees simply conduct themselves in accordance with what they feel will be acceptable with management – or at least tolerated?

In any event, Kristin provides a helpful remedy – at least to those employers who actively want to use “best practices” and rid the workplace of discrimination and harassment – and rid themselves of potential liability.

She writes:

“This is so critical. In working with company execs, I have found that many times they are never aware of the issue. They often come to me because of a high turnover rate or because it has gotten so bad that they do find out. But when we survey the employees, we find that there was a lot more internal racial pressures and discrimination than top level employers would like to believe.

In my experience, the best way to find out about the culture of your company is to send in an outsider to anonymously survey and then create a systemic cultural change in the company.   Thanks for the post.”