No one should be disrespected or treated unfairly at work, no matter our race, age, or position. From the janitor in a large office to the fast-food employee, we all deserve to be valued for our contributions to society.

For this piece, I researched the most powerful quotes I could find on the subject of respect at work. Find wisdom, reflection, and perhaps a renewed perspective on the importance of respect from these items.

Workplace Respect Quotes

55+ Unforgettable Quotes about Respect in the Workplace.

Workplace Respect Quotes.

Promoting a culture of respect in the workplace is vital for fostering productivity and harmony. These quotes serve as timeless reminders of the value and importance of mutual regard in professional settings.

  • “Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal, and help one another achieve it.” — Bill Bradley
  • “To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater.” — Bono
  • “Respect is not something that you can ask for, buy or borrow. Respect is what you earn from each person no matter their background or status.” — Byron Pulsifer
  • “We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.” — Taylor Swift
  • “Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.” — Albert Einstein
  • “When people feel respected, they’re more motivated and committed. They bring their ‘A game’ to work every day.” — Roberta Matuson
  • “Diversity and inclusion are about giving value to every human being, no matter our differences.” — Nellie Borrero
  • “Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.” — George Dei
  • “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” — Albert Einstein
  • “Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.” — Laurence Sterne

Related Reading: 101+ Positive Thinking Quotes for the Workplace 

  • “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” — Bryant H. McGill
  • “The respect you show to others (or lack thereof) is an immediate reflection of your own self-respect.” — Alex Elle
  • “Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.” — Bruce Lee
  • “Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.” — Don Miguel Ruiz
  • “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?” — Confucius
  • “Treat everyone with respect and kindness. Period. No exceptions.” — Kiana Tom
  • “The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do. And remember to respect the process.” — Unknown
  • “The workplace is a community. If you cannot respect, value, and acknowledge the diversity of the community, you are disrespecting the community itself.” — Unknown
  • “We work best when we are working for ourselves. But that doesn’t mean by ourselves. Respect is earned. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned.” — Unknown

Leadership and Respect Quotes

"To lead people, walk behind them." - Lao Tzu

To lead people, walk behind them.

  • “Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge.” — Simon Sinek
  • “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” — Jim Rohn
  • “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” — John C. Maxwell
  • “True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed. Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.” — Sheryl Sandberg
  • “Earn your leadership every day.” — Michael Jordan
  • “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” — Kenneth Blanchard
  • “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” — Warren Bennis
  • “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” — Bill Gates
  • “Leadership is not about being in control. It is about being of service.” — Robin Sharma
  • “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” — Theodore Roosevelt
  • “To lead people, walk behind them.” — Lao Tzu
  • “Real leadership is leaders recognizing that they serve the people that they lead.” — Pete Hoekstra
  • “Leadership without mutual respect is nothing more than tyranny.” — Unknown
  • “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.” — Unknown
  • “A leader doesn’t deserve the name unless he is willing to take responsibility for the well-being and improvement of every team member.” — Unknown
  • “Great leaders inspire greatness in others.” — Unknown

Quotes about Disrespect at Work

These quotes underscore the importance of maintaining mutual regard and the pitfalls of its absence.

  • “Disrespect is the weapon of the weak.” — Amit Kalantri
  • “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” — J.K. Rowling
  • “Being disrespected is unacceptable, but it’s also the best indicator of who doesn’t belong in your life.” — Chris Jammi
  • “A lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect.” — Anonymous, but often attributed to Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.” — Dalai Lama

“Disrespect is tired. Shade is old. Sipping ‘tea’ isn’t cute. But loving, supporting, giving, being grateful and perpetuating light, is.” — Grace Gealey

  • “You can’t respect someone you’ve humiliated.” — Richard Branson
  • “Wherever there’s a disagreement of ideas, it’s always nice to leave people with their dignity still intact.” — Chris Jami
No one heals himself by wounding another.

No one heals himself by wounding another.

Related Reading: 200+ Amazing Weekend Quotes for the Workplace and Employees 

  • “When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us.” — Arapaho Proverb
  • “Rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength.” — Eric Hoffer

“A clear rejection is always better than a fake promise.” — Unknown, but often attributed to Zig Ziglar

  • “Being treated with respect is more important than being liked in the workplace.”
  • “Disrespect does not emanate from a lack of love, but a lack of self-worth and insecurity.”
  • “Every person in your company is a vector. Your progress is determined by the sum of all vectors.”
  • “No one heals himself by wounding another.”
  • “How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.”
  • “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”
  • “Workplace culture is simply what is and isn’t tolerated.”
  • “The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being. It’s not a statement about you.”

Why is Respect so Important in the Workplace?

If you want to retain top talent, you need to create a workplace built around mutual respect. According to a Pew Research survey, employees who quit their job in the past year cited feeling disrespected as a leading reason, following low pay and lack of advancement opportunities. In this survey, more than half of the workers, 57%, expressed that they felt disrespected at their workplace. This feeling of not being valued or treated poorly can significantly impact job satisfaction and morale.

Of course, another form of disrespect is compensation that falls significantly below market rate. A significant 63% of the respondents mentioned that they left their jobs due to inadequate compensation. This indicates that salary and benefits remain a primary concern for many employees, and not being compensated fairly can lead to dissatisfaction.

A study highlighted by the Harvard Business Review indicated that people who experience workplace rudeness report lower engagement, suffer more mental and physical health problems, and are more likely to burn out and quit. I think we can all agree that rudeness is a type of disrespect to colleagues.

What are Specific Examples of Disrespect in the Workplace?

Companies that don’t offer a safe workplace for all employees set themselves up to face numerous legal challenges. I share a few examples below to highlight the risks of allowing this behavior to continue inside your company.

Microsoft Workplace Bullying Case: In a significant case, Microsoft was ordered to pay $2 million after Michael Mercieca faced workplace bullying that nearly pushed him to the brink. The Texas employment labor law case judge, Tim Sulak, found Microsoft guilty of “acting with malice and reckless indifference.”

Life University: The largest chiropractic college in the United States, located in Marietta, Ga., faced a lawsuit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC charged that the university treated two black employees differently because of their race and then fired them for complaining about the discrimination.

Recognize the work of your employees.

Recognition is very important.

Goldman Sachs: A presentation by a group of junior bankers at Goldman Sachs went viral on social media. In this presentation, they complained about what they described as workplace abuse, including working 100-hour weeks. This incident shed light on the grueling work culture in investment banking.

Marietta Restaurant Owner’s Misconduct: Nicholas Tiliacos, the owner of Marietta’s Come-N-Get-It restaurant, faced charges of sexual assault against two employees. The alleged victims were underage at the time, and both Cobb and Marietta police charged Tiliacos with multiple counts of sexual battery and cruelty to children against two individuals who worked at the restaurant.

How Can You Foster an Environment Built around Respect in the Workplace?

Nurturing an environment centered on respect is crucial for organizational success and the well-being of its employees. Here are a few specific ways companies have approached this.

Clear Communication of Values and Expectations:

Real World Example: Google’s “Code of Conduct” emphasizes the importance of respect and understanding. It’s famously summarized by the phrase “Don’t be evil,” which underscores the company’s commitment to ethical behavior and mutual respect.

Training and Workshops: Regular training sessions on workplace etiquette, communication skills, and conflict resolution can help employees understand and practice respect.

A respectful workplace boosts employees' motivation and engagement, leading to increased productivity.

The importance of a respectful workplace.

Real World Example: Salesforce offers training programs that focus on equality and respect, ensuring that every employee understands the importance of a respectful workplace.

Open Door Policy: Encourage employees to voice their concerns without fear of retaliation.

Real World Example: Adobe’s open-door policy has been praised for fostering a culture where employees feel their voices are heard and valued.

Diverse and Inclusive Hiring: A diverse workforce brings varied perspectives, promoting mutual respect and understanding.

Real World Example: Accenture has set clear goals to achieve a gender-balanced workforce and has been recognized for its efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Zero Tolerance for Harassment and Bullying: Implement strict policies against any form of harassment or bullying.

Example: Netflix’s culture memo clearly states that they do not tolerate brilliant jerks, emphasizing the importance of respect in their work culture.

Building a respectful workplace is an ongoing process that requires commitment from all levels of an organization. While policies and training are essential, the true essence of respect comes from everyday actions, open dialogues, and a genuine interest in the well-being of all employees.

Want to start your own food business?

Hey! 👋I’m Brett Lindenberg, the founder of Food Truck Empire.

We interview successful founders and share the stories behind their food trucks, restaurants, food and beverage brands. By sharing these stories, I want to help others get started.

If you liked this story, sign up for our newsletter that includes our food business startup kit and most popular interviews sent straight to your inbox.

Know someone interesting that should be interviewed on the website? Tell us about them here.