Women at work: Exploring pay equity, making work and life mesh, and HR’s role

April 19, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Nobody expects climbing the corporate ladder and earning a top-tier paycheck to be easy for anybody. But an array of statistics shows that fewer women than men get to the top rungs and that accounts for part of the reason women earn less.  Portrait of modern graphic designer woman

Statistics showing that women make up half the workforce without achieving half the top-level positions spark at least three important questions for employers and their human resources professionals: Why are women not making it to the corner office, how can the pay gap be addressed, and should HR be doing more?

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It’s time to get on the winning side of the sexual orientation issue

Not long ago, I heard a story about George Wallace, Alabama’s governor in the 1960s and one of the leading advocates for Jim Crow laws and segregation. He is well-known for his “stand at the schoolhouse door,” where he attempted to prohibit two black students from registering for classes at the University of Alabama. The story was told through the eyes of his daughter, who is now 63 with a family of her own. She talked about trying to overcome her father’s reputation and how she now works to promote racial healing. Gay Pride Flags

I felt sad for Wallace’s daughter, who acknowledged her father’s faults and is trying to change her family’s legacy. I was dumbfounded at the way someone could hold onto and promote an idea that denied individuals equality and had been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court years before.

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Let’s talk about race: the death of Tony Robinson

by Saul Glazer

The recent police shooting of Tony Robinson put Madison in the national headlines. Thankfully, unlike last year’s events in Ferguson, Missouri, the protests following Robinson’s death have been peaceful. However, the incident has once again put a spotlight on how we view race relations. This article discusses race relations in general and the problems employers have with race issues in the workplace.Time for a conversation

Robinson shooting and reaction

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DOJ is the latest federal agency to extend Title VII protection

by Leslie A. Sammon

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination by all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions with 15 or more employees. We are all familiar with Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination in the workplace. In recent years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for enforcing Title VII, has found that claims of sex stereotyping by lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals are covered under the Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination. The EEOC has also interpreted Title VII to prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status. On December 14, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a reversal of its previous position and has now joined the EEOC in extending the protection of Title VII to allow claims based on an individual’s gender identity.  Transgender

DOJ explains its position

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Anatomy of an employment lawsuit: best HR practices to help you win

by Michael J. Modl

Imagine you employ Rajesh Tank, an employee of Indian descent, as a regional VP. Other employees report that Tank engaged in unprofessional conduct that hurt team morale, showed favoritism toward certain employees, and pressured employees to hire a particular contractor. You investigate the allegations, find some truth to them, order Tank to terminate the contractor, and place him on a corrective action coaching plan.  scales of justice

Tank then reports inappropriate racial workplace comments and objects to the level of discipline meted out to the employee who made the comments. He engages in unprofessional conduct after being placed on the corrective plan, and despite your request that he terminate the contractor, he doesn’t. He also raises concerns that he is being discriminated against in the workplace. As a result of coworkers’ complaints about him, you conduct a second investigation and conclude that discharge is the appropriate course of action.

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Staying on solid legal ground when seeking brain diversity in the workforce

March 15, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 3 COMMENTS

The benefits of diversity in the workplace are nearly universally touted. Human resources professionals are eager to assemble teams representing a variety of races, ethnicities, genders, and ages. But now another kind of diversity is gaining recruiters’ attention: brain diversity.  Male and female brains

A December 2014 article on the Fortune website reports that companies are beginning to seek out candidates with conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and dyslexia for jobs that are particularly well-suited to the abilities and strengths people with those conditions often exhibit. For example, people with ADHD often excel at jobs requiring energetic, creative individuals, and people with autism often excel at detail-oriented jobs dealing with large amounts of data.

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The business case for diversity

by Kimberly Williams

Recently, my employer, Baystate Health, organized a regional Diversity and Inclusion Conference. While promoting the event on social media, I shared a video clip of one of the conference presenters who was making the “business case” for diversity. One of my Facebook friends asked, “Why are we still making a business case for diversity in 2014? Why is there a need?”  Light Bulb - Switched On

I was prepared for the question—as a diversity and inclusion practitioner, I hear it quite often. The question isn’t always framed exactly the same way. Variations I’ve heard along the way include, “Why are we still focused on the negative; things that make us different. Shouldn’t we be talking about our similarities?” To be honest, those are fair questions.

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Interrupting gender bias: Fire away!

by Michael P. Maslanka

I am honored to be a Bedford mentor at the University of North Texas School of Law in Dallas. Mentors divide into numerous small groups with students, and each group reads a different book on a matter of public interest. Our book is Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth by Mika Brzezinski. So I read with interest an article in the October 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review, “Hacking Tech’s Diversity Problem” by Joan C. Williams. As its title indicates, the article deals with issues at tech companies, but her advice is portable to all businesses. First, though, some statistics. Solution - break the rule

According to the article, tech companies have a “brogrammer” culture that is very male-focused. Williams notes that 37% of computer science degrees were awarded to women in 1985; by contrast, that number dropped to 18% in 2012. Women held 37% of all computing jobs in 1991; today, it’s down to 26%. And in the tech industry, 41% of women leave their jobs after 10 years, as opposed to 17% of men.

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Are you obligated to notify employees of coworker out on leave with contagious illness?

by H. Mark Adams

Q An employee recently came to HR and said she has meningitis. She is now out on leave. What is our obligationif anyto notify other employees?  Woman with flu

A As someone who has survived meningitis during my professional career, I have more than passing knowledge about this subject. It’s highly unlikely that any employee diagnosed with meningitis would have the capacity to “come to HR” to tell you she has meningitis and ask for a leave of absence. Given the seriousness and potentially life-threatening nature of the illness, it’s more likely the employee would have been sent straight to a hospital without having the time to tell you anything. So the first thing you should do is send your employee or her healthcare provider the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) medical certification form to be completed and returned within the time allowed to confirm whether she does in fact have meningitis.

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‘Microaggression’: a new form of discrimination?

by Ryann E. Ricchio

Discussions about “microaggression” have become more common in the mainstream media. A simple Google search reveals college websites documenting students’ recently experienced microaggressions and articles analyzing microaggression from major media sources, including National Public Radio and the New York Times. This article provides the definition of microaggression, examines a recent case from a federal court that likely involved microaggression (although the conduct wasn’t described using that particular label), and provides a bottom line for employers.  Boss with employee

What is microaggression?

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