How Stigma in the Workplace Reduces Business Performance

27th Jun , 2019

There are many issues that can impact the smooth and healthy running of a business − particularly with how the people in the organisation are managed and lead. After all, it’s the people at all levels in the organisation who drive the business performance. Any business coach will tell you that one of the major challenges in this space is that of reducing or eradicating the harmful effects of stigma within the organisation.

Stigma contributes negatively to the critical business culture. It can be toxic and result in disunity of purpose and low productivity, high staff turnover and a failure to implement succession plans, leaving critical gaps in the organisation structure. This impacts business growth strategies and negatively affects long term business performance.

Fortunately, the right business coach or mentor can help Business Owners and CEOs to improve a wide variety of business-related issues. Business coaching can also help identify, consider and suggest policy and procedures to reduce the bad effects brought on by workplace stigma.

Addressing Stigma

Addressing the negative impacts of stigma is not just about making a more harmonious workplace, but is part of setting a good strategic culture which impacts directly to support business growth strategies.

Social stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person who is perceived as ‘different’. It can be manifested in areas such as culture, gender, race, age, intelligence, health and social standing. Stigmatising works through a process of labelling that seeks to attribute negative feelings in order to discredit individuals. Stigma not only affects the people being stigmatised (behaviour, low self-esteem, poor productivity), but impacts those who deliver it, often creating bullies who believe strongly in their own prejudices, which reinforces the stigmatising process and leads to their reduced well-being.

At International Business Mentors, our business mentors and business coaches often find that stigma is not necessarily obvious at first. They may be mentoring in other aspects of business and discover stigma smouldering in the background. Regardless of the cause, they can help you identify it and stamp it out.

If stigma is not addressed and handled appropriately, the ramifications to a business can be drastic, leading to a decay in culture, adverse legal implications, and the lowering of business performance − or at worst, the possible demise of the business.

Deloittes, in their study “Uncovering Talent: A new Model of Inclusion”, have identified four types of ‘covering up one’s appearance’. Many stigmatised people take these approaches to conceal what it is they feel or are made to feel ashamed of.

The Four types of ‘Covering’

  1. Appearance: Covering up aspects of one’s appearance, mannerisms and attire.
  2. Affiliation-based covering: Not talking about one’s identity, or not supporting work events for fear of being outed.
  3. Advocacy based covering: Not wanting to support or stick up for your group or colleagues.
  4. Association-based covering: Not wanting to attend a work group or function for fear of being exposed and discriminated against.

There are many similarities and some differences relating to stigma across businesses. An independent business coach or mentor who has experience in these areas can suggest the development of policy, procedures and strategies to stamp out stigma and avoid the need for covering.

How Business Coaching Can Help

Some of the areas related to stigma that a business coaching professional can help with may include:

  • Be consistent in work allocation decisions
  • Coaching the business owner, CEO or senior management to be less judgemental and address bias tendencies as part of leadership culture
  • Create team events, functions and rituals which encourage group connectivity
  • Develop a culture for workplace inclusion
  • Do not condone office gossip, and make it safe for those who wish to challenge others who disagree
  • Know your people on an individual level
  • Reduce stereotypes
  • Support those you feel are victims of stigma, encourage them to discuss what areas they feel they are unfairly treated, and put measures in place to fix the problem

The benefits of reducing stigma include:

  • Having more harmonious and productive workplaces
  • A more diverse group of people to improve business adaptability
  • Using more of a win-win approach generally
  • More productive and healthier people working better towards common goals, which in turn can enhance the business’ success and performance

Call International Business Mentors today to start enjoying the benefits of an independent business coach or mentor.

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