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The importance of workplace culture

When an employee experiences discrimination or some other unlawful conduct at work, it's usually not because the employer is unaware of its obligations under the law. In fact, many employers have their own rules and policies prohibiting the same kinds of activity made illegal by federal, state and local laws.

However, having rules in place isn't always enough to stop harassment or guarantee that workers are getting the pay they deserve. Workplace culture plays a big role in maintaining a safe and fair workplace.

Last week, we wrote about the alleged sexual harassment case involving Uber. While it seems as though Uber has had trouble shaking the bad press related to its workplace environment, accusations of poor workplace culture is an issue beyond Uber, as this New York Times story points out.

The story focuses on how Uber's current issues could be an important turning point for the tech industry. Silicon Valley as a whole has been accused of being a boys club, where women are at best treated unfairly and at worst harassed, with few repercussions for those responsible.

The purpose of the Times piece is to express that Uber could use this opportunity to change its image and become a leader in employees' rights for the tech industry.

However the Uber story plays out, the writer gets at the bigger point of how much workplace culture matters. It is important for companies of every size and level of notoriety to not only set workplace policies that establish equity and fairness, but to ensure that those policies are adhered to from the top down.

Without a culture of accountability, instances of harassment and discrimination may be overlooked. If that happens, accusations don't just lead to bad press, but lawsuits and court battles that could have been avoided.

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