Largest Minority Group Often Most Overlooked

March 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

At 20 percent of the population, people with disabilities are America’s largest minority group.

“They carry a second distinction of being America’s most invisible population,” says Wayne McMillan, president and CEO of Bobby Dodd Institute (BDI), an Atlanta-based nonprofit providing career services and job training for the disabled. “Instead of an uproar,” he says, “their chronic underemployment is a largely unspoken issue.”

BDI’s recent national survey, Disability in Our Daily Lives, gauged the perception of people with disabilities in the American workplace. The results show that 86 percent of survey respondents felt people with disabilities face hiring limitations. Among numerous barriers facing this population, respondents cited cost of accommodating (54 percent), lack of knowledge about accommodations (53 percent), and insufficient knowledge of people with disabilities (49 percent) among reasons why employers are reluctant to hire from the disability talent pool.

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Categories: Feature

Launching a Diversity Initiative? Ask These Five Questions

March 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Just having a diversity program won’t instantly solve all your problems.

“Diversity is not simply a means to an end, but rather, an ongoing journey that evolves over time,” says Jennifer Melton, an EEO/diversity management consultant for F&H Solutions Group, an affiliate of Ford & Harrison LLP. “The idea that the implementation of these initiatives will automatically facilitate change or dispel any notion of discrimination is an unrealistic proposition.”

But with a lot of time and tenacity, she says, greater diversity in thought, experience, and communication can gradually emerge from within an organization.

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Categories: Ideas for Leaders

Religious Diversity Challenges Employers, EEOC

March 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Several food-processing plants across the country have been in the news as they grapple with the requests of increasing numbers of Muslim workers seeking religious accommodations. Three disputes — all at meatpacking plants — centered on prayer breaks, especially important at Ramadan. During that month (which varies from year to year because it’s set on a lunar calendar), Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and can eat only after a sunset prayer. At a Tennessee plant, an employer faced a backlash from employees when the union contract swapped out Labor Day for an end-of-Ramadan holiday, Eid al-Fitr. Employees have sought exceptions to rules on uniforms, saying it’s against their religion to wear slacks, and asked to be excused from handling pork on religious grounds.

How are these companies dealing with employees’ religious needs, and what can all employers learn from their experience? We’ll look at two recent situations and examine the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) revision of its compliance manual on religious discrimination, prompted by the growing religious diversity of the American workplace and a rise in religious discrimination claims.

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Categories: Agency Insight

Trucking Company Must Pay $2.4 Million for Discrimination

March 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

An interstate trucking firm has agreed to pay $2.4 million and provide other remedial relief to a class of women to settle a major sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC, beginning in 1997, PittOhio Express, Inc., denied a class of qualified female applicants employment as truck drivers or dockworkers. Instead, men filled the positions during the period in question.

In addition to the significant monetary settlement, the trucking firm has agreed to (1) make offers of employment to women who previously should have been hired as drivers and dockworkers, (2) provide equal opportunity training to all supervisors and managers, and (3) monitor and report on the status and outcome of its training efforts.

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Categories: Legal News

Despite Gains, Women’s Incomes Still Lag Behind Men’s

March 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently issued a report on women’s earnings in 2007. According to the report, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $614, or about 80 percent of the $766 median for their male counterparts. That ratio has grown since 1979 (the first year for which comparable earnings data are available), when women earned about 62 percent as much as men.

Other highlights from the report include the following: read more…

Categories: Just the Facts

Seven Ways to Help Supervisors to “Get” Diversity

February 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Sometimes, broad diversity training isn’t enough. In fact, we’d venture to say that most times it’s not enough. That’s particularly the case when it comes to getting supervisors to take diversity seriously.

“We’ve found that simple ‘diversity training’ doesn’t seem to do much to help managers ‘get it,’” says Joanne Cleaver, president of Wilson-Taylor Associates, an editorial and research services firm that manages a major annual project for Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT).

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Categories: Feature

Mentoring: Helping Supervisors “See”

February 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Supervisors don’t just need to understand the challenges faced by minorities and the legal ramifications, they must also experience what it’s like to be a minority within the organization, says Rene Petrin, who, as president of Boston-based Management Mentors, sets up corporate mentoring programs for clients.

“One of the most effective ways to translate theory into action has been by having supervisors participate in a formal mentoring program that allows for a relationship between a majority person and a minority person which can transform both of them,” Petrin explains.

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Categories: Ideas for Leaders

New EEOC Leaders Will Focus on Diversity

February 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

The Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on January 23 that President Barack Obama has appointed Stuart J. Ishimaru as acting chair of the EEOC and Christine M. Griffin as acting vice chair.

Ishimaru, whose term expires July 1, 2012, has been a commissioner since November 2003. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a second term at the EEOC in December 2007. During his tenure, Ishimaru has primarily focused on large systemic cases and in reinvigorating the agency’s work on race discrimination issues.

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Categories: Agency Insight

Merrill Lynch Settles Job Bias Claim for $1.55 Million

February 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

On December 31, 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that Merrill Lynch, the international financial services firm, settled a discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of an Iranian Muslim former worker who claimed he was terminated because of his religion and national origin. Merrill Lynch agreed to pay $1.55 million to settle the suit.

In the initial lawsuit, the EEOC claimed that Merrill Lynch refused to promote and then terminated Majid Borumand from his position as a qualitative analyst in August 2005 because of his Iranian national origin and because he is a Muslim. The EEOC argued that Merrill Lynch instead retained and promoted a less-qualified individual.

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Categories: Legal News

March: Women’s History Month

February 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

National Women’s History Month’s roots go back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women’s Day was first observed in 1909, but it wasn’t until 1981 that Congress established National Women’s History Week to be commemorated the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month. Every year since, Congress has passed a resolution for Women’s History Month, and the president has issued a proclamation.
Here are some facts and statistics about women in the workplace and business in the United States from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • There were 154.7 million females in the United States as of Oct. 1, 2008. The number of males was 150.6 million.

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Categories: Just the Facts

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