Bob Dylan recorded "The Times They Are A-Changin" more than four decades ago. To some, the song was a reflection of the change in American culture. Undoubtedly, it highlighted the one inevitable fact of life: things change, and people have to acclimate. Nowhere is that truer than in the American workplace.
When Dylan recorded his famous song, the workforce was predominately Caucasian male, with few women and minorities in professional roles. By contrast, today's workforce has evolved into a melting pot of people from different minority groups, religious backgrounds, cultures, generations and genders. Companies with diverse employee populations gain an edge on marketplace competition and maximize profits through marketing strategies to reach a broad consumer base. Furthermore, the legal landscape has expanded to provide equal employment opportunity for individuals in protected classes, including but not limited to, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability and now, in certain states, sexual orientation and transgender status.
Finally, as a practical matter, as the workplace becomes more global, companies should include multilingual and cross-culture training.
In the end, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation training promotes a work climate that is respectful of all workers and improves staff morale and satisfaction. Furthermore, such training coupled with a comprehensive complaint procedure makes the company proactive and not reactive in preventing unlawful conduct, mitigating risks and establishing affirmative defenses.