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Business English Conversation Lessons: Workplace Discrimination

In this conversation lesson, students learn vocabulary related to workplace discrimination. They then discuss the topic in small groups. Teach the vocabulary and then have students do the conversation questions in groups.


Recommended terms to pre-teach:

Workplace discrimination

Based on:
marital status
sexual orientation
ethnicity or national origin
disability (physical or mental)
military service or affiliation
genetic information
bankruptcy or history of bad debts

Additional terms:

the glass ceiling

Conversation Questions

1. What laws are there in your country against workplace discrimination? Are these laws often broken? Are companies that break anti-discrimination laws often punished?

2. In the United States, an employer cannot ask a job applicant certain questions. These include questions about a person’s religion, date of birth (except to establish a minimum age requirement), nationality, marital status, physical or mental disabilities, and private organizations the person belongs to. Do similar laws exist in your country? What do you think of these laws? Are they a good idea? Do they protect people who are looking for a job?

3. Gary Becker, an American economist, argues that the free market punishes companies that discriminate. The idea is that companies that discriminate in their hiring process hurt themselves by not hiring the best job applicants available. As a result, they cannot compete with competitors that do not discriminate. What do you think? Does the free market punish companies that discriminate? Discuss with your group.  Source  

4. What corporate policies or programs does your company have in place to combat discrimination? Tell your group about it. What does your company do to promote a diverse workforce?

5. Do you think that workplace discrimination is decreasing? Do you think it is increasing? Tell your group what you think. Are some types decreasing but not others?

6. How can we reduce workplace discrimination in the future? Where should solutions come from (governments, corporations, consumers, etc.)? What specific things need to happen to end workplace discrimination?

Also see these business English conversation lessons.