The human resources team plays a key role in promoting diversity within an organization. After all, it’s HR that works to recruit and retain people from diverse backgrounds. And it’s up to HR to communicate—not just to executives but to the rank and file as well—just why diversity is important. But how does HR sometimes end up being the problem rather than the solution? And when that happens, how can it be overcome?
Work can be stressful for anyone, and employers are wise to ease the burdens when possible in the interest of maintaining productivity and the general well-being of the workforce. But disabilities can complicate the issue, especially when the disability isn’t obvious.
Human resources professionals may be well aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as the ADA Amendments Act that broadened the law’s protections in many cases, require employers to provide qualified employees who have a disability an opportunity to be productive at work by engaging in the “interactive process” and providing “reasonable accommodations.”
The rural-urban divide in America has had people talking since the 2016 presidential election, which showed a marked difference in the way urban and rural areas tend to vote. The 2016 election wasn’t the first sign of a divide, and individuals in both rural and urban areas often defy aggregate data, but various statistics show differences in attitudes and political opinions that seem to be defined by whether an area is urban or rural.
Such divisions also can be found in the workplace. For years, employers have touted the advantages of diversity and have worked toward racial, ethnic, religious, and gender diversity. But what about geographic diversity? Is there a business advantage to attracting a mix of people from rural and urban backgrounds?
It may seem there’s no escaping political divisiveness. All manner of news and social media sources carry angry, frequently hurtful, and often untrue communication. And the workplace is not immune from the damage of those messages.
Presidential campaigns have been heated before, but the 2016 contest seemed especially rife with venom. Since the campaign was so divisive—particularly on race and religion issues that were aggravated by comments about Mexicans, Muslims, and other minorities—some of that discord has found its way to the workplace.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that nearly a quarter of the workforce will be made up of people age 55 and older by 2024. That contrasts to 1994, when just 11.9 percent of workers fell into that age group. If the projection for 2024 is correct—and the aging of the baby boomer generation as well as other factors provide a solid basis for the forecast—employers need to take a look at how to handle a large number of workers under the protection of federal and state age discrimination laws.
The BLS figures, reported in a November 18 U.S. Department of Labor Blog post, show that the 55 and older crowd is expected to constitute the largest slice of the workforce pie in just eight years. Here’s the breakdown for 2024: read more…
This month’s celebration of Veterans Day may have sparked interest among employers to recruit and hire veterans. After all, many employers tout the diversity of thought and skills employees with military experience bring to the workforce. Too often, though, policies and a lack of understanding throw up barriers to bringing veterans on board.
State licensing and certification requirements often are responsible for the barriers veterans face, but help may be on the way on those fronts. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a toolkit to help states knock down hurdles presented by state licensure and third-party certification systems. A DOL blog post explains that the kit includes best practices, tips, and resources to accelerate initiatives from the various states to address gaps in veterans’ licensing and certification.
Achieving a diverse workforce is a highly touted goal among employers. It’s a goal that drives recruiting as well as efforts to build company culture. But the details – the various policies and rules employers may adopt without considering risks—can be easy to overlook. One area not to be forgotten: dress codes and other appearance policies that sometimes pose religious discrimination risks.
Most employers wouldn’t intentionally adopt policies targeting certain religious groups, but seemingly neutral policies can still pose a threat. For example, can an employer legally prohibit beards, tattoos, head coverings, the wearing of religious symbols, etc.? Usama Kahf, an attorney in the Irvine, California, office of the Fisher Phillips law firm, took on that question in a recent Business and Legal Resources webinar titled “Preventing Appearance-Based Discrimination: Legal Guidelines for Protecting Religious and Cultural Groups.”
No employer trying to build diversity in its workforce is likely to get very far if its culture tolerates discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against employees based on race, gender, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law. Not only does such a culture work against recruitment and retention of diverse talent, it also invites legal trouble. That’s why employers are taking a close look at new guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) addressing retaliation claims.
The EEOC issued its new guidance on August 29, replacing previous guidance released in 1998. In addition to the guidance document, the EEOC also released a question-and-answer document and a fact sheet for small business. The material from the EEOC follows a surge of retaliation claims in recent years.
Fox News understands the life of a news story. It knew that former anchor Gretchen Carlson’s claims of sexual harassment against its former CEO and chairman Roger Ailes would draw headlines for months, as would the ultimate resolution of the claims. In news parlance, Carlson’s claims had “legs.” So, too, would reports of a major settlement of the action. On September 6, Fox News compressed the story of Carlson’s suit with news of the $20 million settlement of her claims—hoping both stories would rise and fall over Labor Day and become a dim memory long before election night.
Fox News acted quickly to jettison Ailes, the actor prominently named in Carlson’s lawsuit. It also announced new sexual harassment policies and now touts a culture that no longer tolerates the type of blatant harassment reported by numerous women after Carlson’s story broke. It issued a public apology “that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and the rest of our colleagues deserve.”
Employers nowadays may feel bombarded with advice on how to retain millennial employees. Those younger workers have the reputation of moving from job to job, so employers wanting to get the most from the investment they make in their youngest employees put a lot of energy into encouraging them to stay. But what about older employees—those who are weighing the pros and cons of retirement, maybe wondering if they’re still appreciated? Are those workers also worth special retention efforts? And, if so, what should employers do?
“There is no substitute for experience,” Susan G. Fentin, an attorney with the Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. law firm in Springfield, Massachusetts, says “Employees with a long record of experience with a company will undoubtedly have contacts in the industry that are invaluable. Any type of knowledge that is built up over time is generally hard to replace, so keeping employees on staff after what might otherwise be retirement age would work to the company’s advantage.”