NOVEMBER DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION UPDATE
NOVEMBER DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION UPDATE
Nov. 1st, 2022
Matt Glowacki, Diversity Equity & Inclusion Chair
Jefferson County HRMA & WI SHRM
EEOC Update: New Workplace Discrimination Poster
Out with the old, in with the new! On October 19, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its workplace poster and dubbed it the “Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal” poster. The new poster replaces and supersedes all previous versions.
The most surprising change is the new QR code for employees and applicants to scan with a mobile device. The code will take them directly to instructions on filing an EEOC complaint. The updated poster also reminds readers that harassment is a prohibited form of discrimination and explains that sex discrimination also encompasses discrimination based on pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Finally, the poster has been re-worked to be more accessible – instead of blocks of chunky language, the new poster uses bullet points and plain language to convey employers’ obligations and employees’ rights, as well as clear guidance on what can be challenged a discriminatory practice and how to contact the EEOC for assistance.
While there isn’t a deadline for replacing the previous EEOC poster, the sooner employers replace it, the better. The EEOC states that covered employers will be subject to a fine for noncompliance.
The poster should be placed in a conspicuous or clearly seen location where notices to employees/applicants are typically posted.
Employers are also encouraged to post the notice in a conspicuous location digitally—especially if your workforce includes employees who telework or do not typically enter the workplace.
Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the notice to be made accessible to employees/applicants with disabilities that limit mobility and those employees/applicants with disabilities with limited ability to see or read. Employers should consider employee/applicant disabilities when complying with notice requirements.
Where To Find The New Poster
The updated poster can be found at www.eeoc.gov/poster. This webpage includes versions for electronic posting as well as versions for printing and physical posting and disability-accessible formats. (Click here to download.)
The Supreme Court Will Make It Harder to Hire a Diverse Team
Today, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases that are widely expected to overturn long-standing precedent and reject diversity as a rationale for considering race in university admissions. One case involves Harvard University, and the other the University of North Carolina. The ruling not only heralds major changes for higher education, but for private corporations as well.
The most obvious short-term consequence for employers is entry-level hiring. Elite employers recruit from elite universities. If those universities become less racially diverse, then the companies that recruit heavily from them — particularly those in tech, finance, law, accounting and consulting — may as well.
The more serious challenges for employers, however, go much deeper. The fundamental problem will be that the diversity objectives trumpeted by major corporations will no longer match an objective that has been blessed by the courts. Rather, racial diversity will be an objective the Supreme Court has rejected. That rejection will usher in a process of political and cultural conflict that companies will not be able to duck.
As the transition unfolds, whether gradually or quickly, every chief diversity officer in the country will need a new job title — and perhaps a new job. The pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion will require rebranding and reimagining. There are also implications for the environmental, social and governance movement, as the S in ESG has come to include workplace diversity.
To see how and why this will happen, it’s worth starting by considering the legal technicalities of the two cases. In the case involving the University of North Carolina, the Supreme Court will likely say that under the Constitution, the meaning of “equal protection of the laws” prohibits any government entity from taking racial diversity into account. In the Harvard case, the court can be expected to hold that the anti-discrimination statute that covers private universities receiving federal funding — Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — also disallows any form of race-based affirmative action or the express pursuit of racial diversity.
Workplace discrimination is governed by Title VII, a different section of the Civil Rights Act. So workplace diversity and workplace affirmative action won’t technically be before the court in the UNC and Harvard cases.
But that should not give solace to any employers hoping to stay out of the fray.
The language of Title VI, the discrimination statute that will be at issue in the Harvard case, is similar to the language of Title VII, the employment discrimination statute. If and when the court rules that the meaning of Title VI tracks the meaning of the equal protection clause of the Constitution, barring the consideration of racial diversity in admissions, it would be a logical conclusion for the courts to treat the language of Title VII as having a similar effect in the workplace.
In a 2020 decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court that Title VII should be read as prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status. Liberals naturally embraced this progressive outcome. But as some scholars noted at the time, the literalism of the Bostock decision resonates with the idea of outlawing diversity in higher education: If an employer taking any account of sexual orientation or gender would count as discrimination “because of sex,” then taking any account of race would arguably count as discrimination “on the ground of race.”
It follows that a majority of the Supreme Court is very likely to hold — eventually — that Title VII outlaws the use of racial diversity as a lawful workplace objective. Even before that issue goes to the Supreme Court, conservative-leaning lower courts are likely to conclude that the Harvard-related holding sets a precedent for private employers, too — prohibiting the pursuit of race and sex diversity in hiring, promotion, or any other employment practice.
The only legal counterargument comes from a 1979 decision on private- employer affirmative action written by liberal lion Justice William Brennan. In it, the court held that Title VI (anti-discrimination by federally funded entities like universities) and Title VII (anti-discrimination in employment) need not be interpreted the same way. Although that case is still on the books, few court-watchers today would expect the current conservative majority to do anything but ignore or overturn it.
The upshot is that, once the court strikes down affirmative action in higher education, an employer who uses affirmative action to seek diversity along the lines of any category protected by Title VII workplace anti-discrimination law — which includes race, sex, religion and national origin — will be running the risk of being held liable for unlawful discrimination.
Of course, many corporations that trumpet workplace diversity as an objective do not acknowledge taking account of racial diversity in their hiring decisions. But if you were the general counsel of such a company, your first advice to your CEO in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision would be to reconsider even mentioning racial diversity as a corporate strategic objective.
The same conservative activists who have been suing universities for years will happily move on to suing corporations. And their objective was never merely to end affirmative action, but to strike a blow in the broader political and social struggle over the objective of diversity.
They seem to have the public on their side. A 2022 Pew study found that 74% of Americans believe race and sex should not be a factor in admissions. Majorities of White, Black, Latino and Asian-American people agree. Hence, the court’s decision is unlikely to trigger broad public backlash in the manner of the Dobbs decision, which overruled Roe v. Wade and allowed states to ban abortion — something most Americans believe should be legal.
Within some circles, however, there will be serious pushback against the court’s opinion. The ideal of diversity is simply too deeply entrenched for progressive CEOs to drop it from their agenda. Many corporations have come to believe, or at least profess, that more diverse companies achieve better financial results — despite making only partial progress on diversity themselves.
One potential middle option for corporations would be to try and maintain the ideal of diversity while steering clear of any concrete conduct that could be construed legally as using race or sex diversity as an objective in hiring and promotion.
The website of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission currently defines “workforce diversity” as “a business management concept under which employers voluntarily promote an inclusive workplace.” Under that definition, diversity might to a degree be allowed as a concept divorced from specific hiring decisions. In practice, however, it seems unlikely that corporations would — over the long run — double down on diversity once that concept has been repudiated by the Supreme Court.
The most likely result, I think, is that corporations will begin to back away from rhetoric that emphasizes the concept of diversity — as quickly and quietly as they can.
Consider the objective of more women’s representation on boards of directors and in C-suite and partnership level positions. In 2018, California went so far as to pass a law requiring female representation on boards of directors, although a state court judge struck down the law in May of 2022. Even voluntary efforts in this direction will now become legally suspect if they are expressed in terms of numeric targets.
Or consider policies that require interviewing nonwhite or female candidates for jobs, like the NFL’s Rooney rule. Such policies might well be struck down in court as unlawfully giving an employment advantage to their beneficiaries on the basis of race and sex.
As for ESG, an anti-diversity Supreme Court decision would come at what is already a potential inflection point. ESG is currently under attack by Republican state legislatures. So far, conservative activism has been mostly focused on the environmental component. But the social component will now be under attack, too.
The bottom line is that, once the Supreme Court has repudiated diversity in higher education, it will become gradually harder and harder for employers to invoke it as a key corporate value. Lawsuits or the fear of lawsuits will be one engine of eventual cultural transformation. Conservative activism will be another.
The process of change will not be simple or immediate. Diversity values have strong advocates. Companies will find themselves in the increasingly familiar territory of being caught between two sides in a culture war. Ultimately, however, the Supreme Court will make it difficult for the ideal of diversity to retain its sway in the C-suite.
When Confronting Bias, Beware the Counterclaims
Discussions of discrimination in the workplace have a better chance for resolution when managers understand the common ways dominant groups deflect criticism.
Imagine you’re the manager of a diverse team. One day, you are troubled to hear that several Black employees feel unwelcome in the workplace. They report that two White employees were joking with other colleagues about a photo of themselves posted to social media showing them wearing racially insensitive costumes to a party. You want to be an inclusive and responsive leader, so you call the two offending employees into your office individually to address the report.
The first employee — we’ll call him Michael — goes on the defensive, complaining that this is a classic case of “reverse racism” and that he is being unfairly targeted by the Black employees because he’s White.
The second employee, John, also tries to portray himself as the victim, but in a different way. He argues that his free speech is being imperiled. He says that efforts to control what he can and cannot say in the workplace threaten his fundamental rights.
What do you make of these arguments? Would you be inclined to believe both of them, or one employee more than the other? How would you address the situation with your team?
When members of groups with more power and resources — what social scientists call dominant groups — are accused of discrimination against those with less power and fewer resources (nondominant groups), they will sometimes seek to deflect criticism by portraying themselves as the victims of discrimination. This is known as competitive victimhood. Some go a step further and invoke victimhood on a new dimension of harm, changing the topic to freedom of speech, for instance, or religious liberty. We refer to this as digressive victimhood.
A new psychological concept called “digressive victimhood” helps explain how dominant groups rebuff claims of discrimination
New research provides evidence that dominant social groups prefer to dismiss charges of discrimination by shifting the main subject of conversation away from particular acts of discrimination and onto broader topics. The findings have been published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
“This research arose out of conversations between myself and my coauthors, Ivy Onyeador and Miguel Unzueta. We had been noticing several examples of what we came to term digressive victimhood — members of dominant groups (e.g., White Americans) responding to charges of discrimination by simultaneously claiming victimhood and changing the topic of conversation (e.g., responding to accusations of racism with claims that their free speech was threatened),” said lead researcher Felix Danbold, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at University College London.
“Sometimes, these claims seemed to be a deliberate attempt to silence further criticism against the dominant group. We designed a series of studies to see if people generally view digressive victimhood claims in this way, and if the apparent strategic benefit of digressive victimhood claims might explain their popularity.”
The researchers first asked 467 Christian participants to read two excerpts from purported op-ed articles about LGBT individuals accusing Christians of discrimination. One excerpt employed a competitive victimhood argument and the other employed a digressive victimhood argument. The former op-ed argued that Christians were the true victims in modern America and needed to be protected, while the latter argued that religious liberty was the true victim in modern America and needed to be protected. After reading each excerpt, the participants indicated how much they endorsed the argument and how effective they thought the argument would be against arguments to the contrary.
Danbold and his team found that Christian Americans favored the digressive victimhood argument and believed it would be more effective in thwarting further criticism from LGBT activists compared to the competitive victimhood argument.
To examine whether digressive victimhood was favored in relation to other social issues, the researchers conducted a second study with 1,170 White participants, who listened to an audio clip from a purported podcast describing protests at a university in response to White students wearing “racially insensitive costumes” at a party. In one version of the audio clip, the host argued that the true victims were the students who wore the costumes and who were “being denied access to education by the university.” In another version, the host argued that the true victim was “the right to free speech in America.”
In line with their previous results, the researchers found that White Americans favored the digressive victimhood argument (free speech is the true victim) and believed it would be more effective in shutting down further protest or criticism.
But the researchers also wanted to explore how non-dominant groups responded to victimhood claims made by a dominant group. In a third study, the researchers had 804 White and 640 non-White participants listen to and evaluate the same audio clips about protests over racially insensitive costumes.
Danbold and his colleagues found that non-White participants also favored the digressive victimhood argument over the competitive victimhood argument. Both White and non-White participants’ support for the digressive victimhood argument was related to perceiving it as a universal principle that protected the rights of everyone. But only White participants’ support for the digressive victimhood argument was associated with the belief that it would be more effective in silencing further criticism.
“We hope that this research helps people to draw distinctions between different types of victimhood claiming,” Danbold told Psy Post. “Sometimes members of dominant groups will claim victimhood in response to charges of discrimination by simply reversing these charges (e.g., claiming ‘reverse racism.’) Other times, they may claim victimhood while simultaneously shifting the topic of conversation (e.g., responding to accusations of racism with claims that their free speech is threatened.) We call the latter form of claiming, ‘digressive victimhood.’ Our research shows that members of dominant groups (e.g., White Americans) endorse digressive victimhood claims more strongly than more conventional competitive victimhood claims (e.g., those claiming ‘reverse racism.’) Our findings also suggest that this preference is rooted in the belief that digressive victimhood claims are more effective at preventing further criticism against the dominant group.”
The researchers also found that members of dominant groups who scored high on measures of prejudice were willing to endorse digressive victimhood arguments “even if they did not strongly believe in the principle being defended in the claim.” In other words, Christians with anti-LGBT views were willing to endorse the digressive victimhood arguments even if they did not have a strong belief in religious freedom and highly prejudiced White Americans were willing to endorse the digressive victimhood arguments even if they did not strongly endorse the right of free speech.
But the study — like all research — includes some limitations.
“We took a very focused approach in this research, only looking at how people responded to a few specific examples of victimhood claiming,” Danbold explained. “We hope future research will examine a wider array of victimhood claims and examine how and when members of dominant groups make these claims spontaneously.”
“We look forward to the conversation and additional research that this paper generates!”
The study, “Dominant groups support digressive victimhood claims to counter accusations of discrimination“, was authored by Felix Danbold, Ivuoma N. Onyeador, and Miguel M. Unzueta.
Forty-Three Percent Say 40-Plus Is Old: Discrimination In The Workplace
Diversity, equity and inclusion, known as DEI, is a popular yet sensitive topic in the workforce today. Leadership and HR that recognize this are finding ways to ensure employees from all races, ethnicities, abilities, sexual orientations, religions, etc., are represented. Sometimes included, but often left out, is age.
Age shows no color, race, religion, sex, etc. It just is. People get older, and as they do, workplace biases may become evident. It’s important to be aware of this issue. A 2022 study by LiveCareer, Older People & the Workplace, revealed some intriguing findings regarding age-related stereotypes and discrimination. More than 1,000 workers were surveyed to “investigate their opinions about older people in the workplace.”
Eight in ten respondents claimed age stereotypes were still alive in the workplace.
What is considered old? Forty-three percent of those surveyed said 40-plus is old. Twenty-six percent said 50-plus is old. And 21% said 60-plus is old. So, if you are 50, with probably 15 or more years until retirement, 69% of the people you work with think you are old.
Here are some more findings from LiveCareer’s study to get you thinking about how your organization treats aging employees:
· 74% of the respondents aged 50-plus said they had been fired because of their age.
· 86% aged 50-plus felt that most job postings were addressed to people younger than them.
· 72% of respondents claimed that older employees were a target for workplace bullying.
· 77% of the respondents said: I haven’t been hired for a job because of my age.
· 69% said: I’m afraid to lose my job because of my age.
If over 50 is old, then leadership is … old. According to Zippia, there are over 38,700 CEOs currently employed in the U.S., and their average age is 52 years old. If you look at the Fortune 500, the average age of a CEO is 57. Several companies on the Fortune list are run by CEOs ranging from 71 to 91!
Consider the age of the most powerful executives in the United States. President Biden was 78 when he became president. Donald Trump was 70. Barak Obama seems like a baby considering he entered the Oval Office when he was just 47. The overall average age of a United States president entering office is 56 (almost 57).
Some companies and brands are taking a proactive position against age discrimination. Dove and Wendy’s in Canada reacted to CTV news firing Canadian news anchor Lisa LaFlamme for letting her hair go gray. Dove Canada responded with a #KeepTheGrey campaign on its social media postings. They wrote, “Age is beautiful. Women should be able to do it on their own terms, without consequences.” Wendy’s tweeted, “Because a star is a star regardless of hair color.”
Companies are evaluating their retirement policies, recognizing the value of older employees. Target recently announced it is eliminating the mandatory retirement age of 65. Its current CEO, Brian Cornell, will be turning 64 on his next birthday, and Target doesn’t seem ready to start planning for his successor. While Target’s reason for changing the policy may seem self-serving, you can’t ignore that they have come to realize the value in keeping their best employees, regardless of age. Other major companies like 3M, Merck and Boeing are also changing their policies on mandatory retirement.
The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), an international group of economists based in Paris, with more than 38 member countries, predicts that by 2050, more than four in ten individuals (that’s 40%) in the world’s most advanced economies are likely to be older than 50. The workforce is aging even more rapidly as younger people are starting work at an older age, and older people are staying employed.
We’re not getting any younger. We’re older today than yesterday, both in life and at work. We can’t fight that. It’s just a fact, and you can’t ignore it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the workforce is also getting older. In 2000 the average age of a worker in the U.S. was 39.3. In 2010, that jumped to 41.7. In 2020, it increased to 42.8.
Despite these changes and observations, age bias still exists. It needs to be considered—and eradicated—the same as other DEI issues.
Alcoholism at work: What can employers do?
The legal rules around dealing with employees who have alcoholism take legitimate employer concerns into account, but the landscape in this area includes land mines that must be avoided.
Employers must know how to respond when an employee has alcoholism that is impacting work performance. The need is especially prevalent in light of empirical evidence that excessive drinking increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s go over the legal landscape and lay out a plan that HR pros can implement when dealing with employees with alcoholism.
Alcoholism can be a covered disability
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alcoholism can be a covered disability if it severely impacts an individual’s daily activities. It is to be distinguished from the illegal use of drugs (which includes using drugs that are illegal and using legal drugs in an illegal manner). The ADA does not protect illegal drug use.
Several courts have agreed with the logical proposition that alcoholism is not a per se disability under the law. The question is whether the condition substantially limits at least one major activity.
If alcoholism qualifies as a disability in a particular case, employers must be ready to extend reasonable accommodation. But in addition to the generally applicable limitation on the reasonable accommodation duty of undue hardship, another employer-friendly limitation is at play: Employers can hold employees with alcoholism to the same performance and conduct standards that it applies to other employees, without fear of violating the statute.
Legislators deemed this limitation important enough to build it expressly into the statutory language of the ADA. Thus, it is crystal clear that employees with alcoholism can be held to generally applicable and uniformly applied conduct and performance standards, even when subpar performance is directly related to the employee’s alcoholism.
This means things like severe absenteeism and insubordination need not be tolerated – as long as they are not tolerated from other employees.
The key: Don’t single out employees for discipline just because the subpar performance or conduct is related to alcoholism. Instead, focus on the nature and severity of the subpar performance or conduct, rather than the cause of it.
As courts have also recognized, there is a clear distinction between adverse action that is based on misconduct and poor performance and adverse action that is based on the disability of alcoholism.
In Little v. FBI, for example, an employee with alcoholism was discharged for being intoxicated while on duty. The court rejected his disability bias lawsuit, saying he was discharged not because of his disability but because of his misconduct of being intoxicated while on duty.
Similarly, in Collings v. Longview Fibre Co., the court said that “employers must be allowed to terminate their employees on account of misconduct, ‘irrespective of whether the employee [has a disability].’”
Even though the duty to accommodate may be triggered, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has described some specific limitations on that duty. Employers may – but are not required to – refer an offending employee with alcoholism to an EAP program, it has advised. But they need not establish such programs or provide an opportunity for rehabilitation in lieu of discipline, the agency says.
Employers are put in a tough spot if an employee first presents a request for an alcoholism-related job accommodation in response to discipline for subpar conduct or job performance. The EEOC says that if the offending conduct is serious enough to warrant termination, the employer is free to go ahead and impose the discipline without further discussion. There is no need to offer a “firm choice” or “last chance agreement” in these circumstances, it advises. But if the appropriate discipline is something short of termination, it adds, the employer should determine whether a reasonable accommodation is available.
Translation: Feel free to fire for a fireable offense — even when the offense stems from alcoholism – and try to accommodate for less serious conduct or performance issues.
The role of HR and leaders in tackling racial discrimination
To stamp out workplace inequality, people professionals and leaders must be prepared to call out and intervene in instances of racism, says Nike Ajibowo
Racism is a lived experience as with other forms of discrimination. Following the murder of George Floyd in the US in 2020, many of us have come to the realization that people of color are faced with challenges that their white counterparts may never face either in or outside of the workplace.
George Floyd changed how the world viewed racism. His death brought to light what some describe as deep-rooted racism which continues to exist in many societies. Many of us watched how a person with power and privilege could kneel on the neck of another human being for several minutes on the guise of undertaking his role as a police officer. The fact is, racism in the workplace can feel nearly as unbelievable as that, and is sometimes perpetuated in the guise of undertaking one’s duty at work. His death also opened up workplace discussions around racism, and while these can be difficult, discrimination is a topic which cannot be avoided by people professionals.
As there are laws against discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristic across many jurisdictions including the UK, some may argue that discrimination, especially racism, is not widespread or at least not overtly in the workplace. I am inclined to agree that a person is more likely to experience covert racism in today's workplace than overt racism, including but not limited to micro-aggressions: actions that when reported on their own, may be perceived as a person being too sensitive, overreacting or the incident being a misunderstanding.
Leaders hold a critical role, especially in today’s workplace, in addressing racism and all forms of discrimination, otherwise, racism and other forms of discrimination would continue to fester. There is a strong growing business case for organisations to ensure a diverse, safe and inclusive workplace. Staff need to feel included at work to be creative, innovative and productive, and addressing racism and all other forms of discrimination is one way to achieve this.
People leaders should consider creating an anti-racism statement, charter or a set of principles and values which serves as the yardstick for their organisations. It is essential to also consider the intersectional elements in such a charter and include gender, sexual orientation, disability, age and other protected characteristics. Organisations should also consider establishing working groups and staff networks where staff can openly share and learn from one another in safe spaces.
So, when you witness a racist action or see a racially biased decision, what can or should you do as an HR professional?
Asking questions helps the decision maker to think through their decision or action. For example, ask why their recruitment or promotion decisions appear to favor one race predominantly and consistently disfavor others. Sometimes people are not even conscious that they have been racially biased in their actions or decisions. Having an open discussion with leaders helps to challenge their thought process and rethink some of their decisions more objectively.
Listen and maintain confidentiality
Avoid the ‘fight or flight’ approach. This means when a staff member raises allegation of racism or other forms of discrimination in the workplace, HR professionals should listen with empathy. It is essential to listen and keep an open mind in order to get the facts in an unbiased manner. Victims may feel gaslit if they are immediately told that their allegation is simply a misunderstanding or their opinion.
HR professionals also need to avoid initiating a ‘mob action’ by spreading the allegations to people who have no role in the grievance process. Breach of confidentiality on discrimination cases can have a negative impact on staff reputation and career, including retaliation depending on the power or privilege of the alleged perpetrator(s). Therefore, it is important to seek the staff’s views regarding how they wish their complaint should be managed.
It is essential to recognize that racism is a lived experience, and can negatively impact on staff mental health and wellbeing, as well as productivity. Often, a timely informal intervention, such as a constructive discussion between the relevant parties, may suffice. A mediation process may also work, providing consent has been sought from all parties. In cases where a more formal process would be necessary, for example an investigation, it is essential to initiate the process in a timely manner. Grievance processes which take several months can cause undue stress for those concerned.
As people professionals and leaders, we can help with dismantling the systems that aid workplace racism, and all other forms of discrimination in the workplace. We can also build new ones which promote inclusion. When it comes to managing discrimination cases in the workplace, people professionals and leaders should not be bystanders but lead in promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
California Expands Pay Data Reporting and Mandates Pay Scale Disclosures
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 1162 on Sept. 27, 2022, to expand the requirements for annual pay data reports and requires covered employers to publish pay scales with job postings as well as to retain certain pay records. The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, is an effort to bolster pay transparency and counter workplace discrimination and aligns California law with several other states, including New York, Nevada and Washington.
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 1162 on Sept. 27, 2022, to expand the requirements for annual pay data reports and requires covered employers to publish pay scales with job postings as well as to retain certain pay records.
- The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, is an effort to bolster pay transparency and counter workplace discrimination and aligns California law with several other states, including New York, Nevada and Washington.
- This Holland & Knight alert covers the two distinct disclosure requirements under the new law as well as next steps employers should take to prepare for the new requirements.
Requirements Under the Law
There are two distinct disclosure requirements under the new law: mandatory pay scale information for job postings and expanded pay data reporting requirements.
Expanded Annual Pay Data Reporting to California Civil Rights Department
SB 1162 represents an expansion of a previous pay data reporting bill, SB 973, that went into effect in 2021. SB 973 required employers with 100 or more employees, and who were required under federal law to file an annual federal Employer Information Report (EEO-1), to submit an annual pay data report to the California Civil Rights Department (CRD, formerly known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)). However, SB 973 did not address workers supplied to employers by labor contractors (e.g., staffing agencies).
Under SB 1162, covered employers who are supplied workers by labor contractors will not escape this pay data reporting obligation in 2023. The law defines labor contractors as "an individual or entity that supplies, either with or without a contract, a client employer with workers to perform labor within the employer's usual course of business." Employers who have 100 or more employees hired through labor contractors within the prior calendar year will now be required to file a separate report for those employees who have been supplied by labor contractors, and the report will need to identify the labor contractors. In turn, labor contractors will be obligated to provide pay data to the reporting employers.
SB 1162 also broadens SB 973 by requiring the median and mean hourly rate for each combination of race, ethnicity and sex in the designated job categories. Employers with multiple establishments are required to submit separate reports for each establishment instead of a consolidated report and are no longer permitted to submit an EEO-1 in lieu of the required pay data report.
Accordingly, in 2023, pay data reports must include the following:
- The number of employees by race, ethnicity, and sex in each of the following job categories:
a. executive or senior level officials and managers
b. first or mid-level officials and managers
e. sales workers
f. administrative support workers
g. craft workers
i. laborers and helpers
j. service workers
An employer who fails to submit the required report to the CRD may be subject to costs associated with compelling compliance. A court may also impose civil penalties up to $100 per employee and up to $200 per employee for subsequent failures to file the pay data report.
- Within each job category listed above, the number of employees by race, ethnicity and sex whose annual earnings fall within each of the pay bands defined by the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey based upon employees' W-2 earnings
- Within each job category listed above, for each combination of race, ethnicity and sex, the median and mean hourly rate, based upon employees' W-2 earnings
- The total number of hours worked by each employee counted in each pay band during the reporting year
- For employers with multiple establishments, a report must be submitted for each establishment
Pay Scale Disclosure to Employees and Applicants
Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, employers with 15 or more employees must include the pay scale in all job postings under California Labor Code 432.3. "Pay scale" is defined by statute as the salary or hourly wage range that the employer reasonably expects to pay for the position. Additionally, if a covered employer posts, announces or publishes job postings using a third party, the employer must provide pay scale information to the third party for it to include in the job posting. Further, upon request, covered employers must provide the pay scale information to current employees and to applicants upon a reasonable request.
Failure to comply with the required disclosures allows "aggrieved individuals" to file a written complaint against employers with the Labor Commissioner within one year after learning that employers did not make the required disclosures. Upon a finding that the employer violated the law, the Labor Commissioner may order the employer to pay civil penalties ranging from $100 to $10,000 per violation based on the totality of the circumstances. Notably, the Labor Commissioner will not assess a penalty upon first violation of the pay scale disclosure law upon showing that the employer updated job postings for open positions to include the required pay scale in compliance with the law. An aggrieved individual may also bring a civil action for injunctive relief and other relief as deemed appropriate by a court.
Employee Record Retention
Employers also must maintain employee records, including job titles and wage rate histories, through the term of each employee's employment and for three years after the employment has ended. As under current law, these records are subject to inspection by the Labor Commissioner.
Next Steps for California Employers
In order to prepare for the new 2023, pay data reporting and disclosure requirements, covered employers should ensure their policies and procedures comply with the requirement to maintain pay history documentation for current employees for the required period of time and should update existing and new job postings to meet the requirements to disclose pay scale information. Employers who do not comply with the requirements to submit pay data and post pay scales within their job posting may be subject to civil penalties and costly lawsuits.
In addition, as SB 1162 extends pay data collection obligations to employees furnished by labor contractors, covered employers should also ensure they comply with the new reporting requirements for these workers. This represents a significant expansion of existing pay data requirements, and employers utilizing staffing agencies, independent contractors and/or temporary employees must consider such third-party-sourced employees in its reports. A court may apportion an appropriate number of penalties to a labor contractor who did not provide the requisite pay data for an employer to submit a complete and accurate report.
Employers should also review agreements with staffing agencies and other third parties to ensure that employers have a contractual right to receive pay data information from their contractors for purposes of pay data reporting. Agreements with professional employer organizations (PEOs) and payroll companies should also be reviewed to ensure access to this data for the period of time required by the statute (especially after a contract with such a service provider may be terminated).
SB 1162 creates an additional layer of complex requirements and easy pitfalls for employers. All entities doing business in California should consult with counsel on current records and pay information to review and rectify potential discrepancies. For more information about how SB 1162 applies to your business, contact the authors.
These Are The Workplace Norms That Are Now Canceled
DEI EXPERT DEE C. MARSHALL SHARED HER INSIGHT ON WHICH ARCHAIC WORKPLACE PRACTICES SHOULD BE DONE AWAY WITH, IMMEDIATELY.
Pandemic restrictions have been nearly completely rolled back in most of the country and workplace leaders are eager to get their teams back into the office. But, unsurprisingly, women (particularly Black women) aren’t jumping at the chance to migrate into shared work spaces, and for good reason.
The Harvard Business Review pointed out that one study found that only 3% of Black knowledge workers wanted to return to full-time on-site work, as compared to 21% of white peers. Additionally, a report by Future Forum revealed that Black, workers all heavily favored hybrid or fully remote work at much higher rates than white workers do.
A PwC report suggests that more than 70% percent of people surveyed in the US had concerns about returning to the office after covid 19. Another report mentions that 54% of those surveyed do not want to return to the office. Forbes reports that only 9% of those surveyed in the US wanted to return to the workplace.
Microaggressions and occupational segregation among other grievances are some of the key reasons behind Black women’s return-to-office hesitancy.
Wall Street alumna turned DEI expert and CEO of Diverse and Engaged Dee C. Marshall, says that because of this, workplace norms need to shift.
“Many professional standards are by design rooted in a mindset of majority workforce established at a time when historically underrepresented individuals were not seen as equal and therefore rules were established based on norms of the majority,” Marshall said. “The practices and policies for the most part have not been updated beyond a discrimination clause or an overall attempt to course correct old ways to new rules. Not all of the following apply to underrepresented groups, but women and generationally the new comers to the workplace are making a positive contribution in challenging what doesn’t make sense.”
She recently sat down with ESSENCE to share her insight on which workplace norms need to be canceled and why. Here’s what we mean.
Professional Dress Code
From expensive dresses, suits, and heels to muted colors and styles, many of us mindlessly adhered to clothing expectations to move up the corporate ladder — this is particularly true for Black women.
“Professional dress code identified as business suits, matching suit jackets and pants, mix match pieces, dresses, hard bottom shoes, high heels, and pantyhose is influenced and could possibly be replaced by Hip Hop culture and Tech casual, jeans, hoodies, sneakers, soft soles, dresses and other transferable wardrobe,” said Marshall.
Black women’s hair has been policed for years, particularly in the office.
Public discomfort has been evidenced by the hundreds of workplace discrimination lawsuits brought by employees. For example, in the case of Chastity Jones V. The Supreme Court, Jones claimed a job offer was rescinded because she refused to cut off her locs.
Marshall said these sweeping legal changes should trickle down to the workplace.
“Professional hair is workplace code that centers whiteness as the professional standard and unprofessional as anything other i.e., ethnic, natural or expressive styles typically worn by people of color.”
Standard Business Hours
For decades, companies have enforced 5-day, 8-hour work schedules despite data showing its archaic nature.
As a result, there have been a number of companies across the globe playing with the idea of implementing the four-day workweek model. For example, Microsoft Japan piloted a shorter workweek program, called “Work-Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer,” in which 2,300 employees “chose a variety of flexible work styles, according to the circumstances of work and life.” It was a success and Marshall isn’t surprised.
“Standard business hours and close of business (COB) is no longer the majority, rather more inclusive of global workplace and flexible work arrangement,” she said. “It’s canceled.”
In 2021, a controversial debate was sparked on Twitter after sports journalist Jane Slater posted an internship opportunity, encouraging interested candidates to apply. The issue? It was unpaid.
Users pointed out that this sort of labor can be exploitative, especially in an economy ravaged by ballooning costs of living. Marshall says employers should do away with unpaid work opportunities altogether.
“Unpaid internships where the company, big brand benefits from the work is a systemic barrier that perpetuates disparities in pay/compensation, economic and wealth for historically underrepresented groups is canceled.”
What to Do When Someone Undermines You at Work
Summary. Do you feel degraded by offhand comments at work that erode your confidence and cause disruption to your day? In order to better understand and manage your reactions to these comments, the author offers four leadership skills that will help you respond at work.
Charles, a vice president at a Fortune 200 company I work with, recently asked Lori, a senior manager and 15-year employee to take on a new assignment. Charles wanted someone to assess and advance a cross-functional customer service project that was stuck. Lori had a reputation as a problem solver, and Charles trusted that she was up for the task. Excited, Lori began collecting information about the project’s status from the team leads, most of whom were directors.
When Lori attended the first weekly team meeting, she listened and took lots of notes. Near the end of the meeting, she asked for the data she was missing from a few team members. Roberto, a director, said: “We don’t need more data. We need resources and decisions.”
Roberto’s comment left Lori feeling belittled. As humans, we’re naturally sensitive to the opinions of others, especially in the workplace. Organizational hierarchies are often fraught with power struggles, competitiveness, and office politics. The ways that we navigate those hierarchies have the potential to make or break our relationships, or even our careers.
If you, like Lori, find yourself on the belittling end of an unproductive power dynamic at work, or are regularly feeling degraded by flippant comments, don’t let it erode your confidence and disrupt your day. Here are four conversational leadership skills that can help you better understand and manage your reactions and respond in productive ways.
1. Understand your triggers.
Negative comments enter our brain in a nanosecond. The amygdala and prefrontal cortex work together to detect and respond to emotional and biological stressors. The amygdala is an alert system, and when it’s hijacked, it sends fear signals throughout our body. We react before our prefrontal cortex has time to evaluate and adjust. Without thinking, we spiral down a funnel of fear. Before our awareness kicks in, our minds freeze, we run for the exit, or we prepare for battle.
Your specific autopilot reactions are unique, influenced by your upbringing and background. Taking cues from the culture you grew up in, your mind constructs stories that are full of judgment about what you should or shouldn’t be, what’s good or bad, what’s beautiful or ugly, and what’s fair or unfair.
As children and in your adolescence, these narratives helped you survive. As you and your world have evolved, however, they’ve likely become the root of biases and behaviors that hold you back.
When it comes to navigating power dynamics at work, this is especially true. During triggering interactions, your insecurities rise to the surface and provoke your fight, flight, or freeze response. To gain the clarity you need to respond thoughtfully, you need to learn to pause in these moments. Identifying your triggers will help you do that.
The next time you hear a difficult or degrading comment, don’t immediately respond. Stop and observe the situation, person, or conversations that’s sent you spinning. What are the private thoughts swirling around your mind? What signals is your body giving you?
As an example, I recognized years ago that confrontation was a trigger for me. When someone assertively challenged my comments at work, my fear response would kick in, my mouth would go dry, and my amygdala would shout “prepare for battle.” By recognizing and investigating this trigger, I unearthed a pattern in my behavior. My reaction to conflict was rooted in my witnessing the loud and aggressive fights my parents had when I was younger. This discovery gave me the awareness I needed to pause in the face of confrontations, reframe my mindset, and respond with a more level head. To do this yourself, you need to similarly note your triggers and investigate the stories that drive them.
In the case of Lori, she was well aware of the hierarchical politics at her company. However, based on her background and upbringing, she believed that good work and collaboration could and should trump those dynamics. She wanted the leaders she was working with to recognize her work and give her credit where credit was due. As a result, she told herself a story: Roberto’s comment was a political power play meant to belittle her. This was the root of her negative emotions and reactions.
Pro tip: Do this reflection work regularly and often. The better you know yourself and your triggers, the more prepared you’ll be to respond to confrontation in a productive way when it unexpectedly arises.
2. Recognize the power dynamics.
Lori was able to pinpoint the unproductive stories driving her beliefs, but that was just the first step. To manage those stories, she needed to become aware of the authority and power issues affecting her interactions. This is not only true in Lori’s situation — it’s true for all of us at work.
In every interaction, we unconsciously decide how much power to grant others. In most organizations, the person at the top has the final say. Hierarchies create levels of accountability, but unhealthy power plays are detrimental to everyone’s performance. That’s why it’s important for you to understand the culture of authority on your team, and how the stories you tell yourself may play into those dynamics.
As an example, upon reflection, Lori discovered her response to Roberto was rooted in her experience and beliefs about how leaders abuse their power. If a friend or colleague had made the same comment to her, she would’ve assumed positive intent and taken the time to discuss the data and info she had collected. What’s more, Charles, the vice president, unknowingly had set Lori up for failure. He asked her to assess a team of directors, putting her in a hierarchical minefield. It’s not surprising that Roberto, a director, second guessed her. She was his junior, but she was trying to tell him what to do. Simply put, Charles didn’t give Lori the authority she needed to succeed.
That was the situation she was dealing with — and breaking it down in this way helped her gain the clarity she needed to manage it. In your own organization, what are the dynamics? What kind of leader are you, and who do you regularly deal with?
Pro tip: Remember that leaders often manage their authority along a wide spectrum. At one end are the leaders (and managers) with outsized egos, who must have the answer and the final say. At the other end are often thoughtful and more aware leaders, who know that they might not have all the answers, welcome varying opinions, and encourage others to speak up — increasing engagement and satisfaction.
3. Consider the other person’s perspective.
When Lori stopped to examine the broader power dynamics within her company, she was not only able to understand how her stories were impacting the situation — she could also more clearly see Roberto’s perspective and motivations. His comment revealed his dissatisfaction with her role and was based on the fear that she was the one making a power play. Who was she to boss him around? Like Lori, Roberto was making assumptions based off of his own insecurities and beliefs.
When triggered, we often let other people’s opinions take hold of our thoughts. Their words hurt, and we take them personally, which causes us to feel jealous, angry, or disappointed. It’s a common human pattern to forget that those words are theirs, born from their perspective — not ours. Sometimes, as Lori did, it’s helpful to look at the bigger picture.
After taking a pause (and with some coaching), Lori recognized that Roberto’s comment was driven by his insecurities. Had she known this in the moment, she could have reframed her response in a way that both eased his concerns and addressed her needs. She could have said: “I’m new to this project, and I know how much work you and the others have done. What are your concerns about compiling the data?”
Pro tip: Initially, taking a pause may be difficult to do in the heat of a tense moment. In that case, you can say something like, “Thanks for the feedback. Let’s schedule some time to talk offline and discuss our concerns about the project.” Over time, and with practice, you’ll be able to think more quickly on your feet.
4. Recognize the power of a great question.
Everywhere we turn, we are rewarded for having answers. In school, we raise our hands if we have the solution to a math problem. In business, we are expected to advocate for our position. And in public, we are admired for our intelligence. Answers are a critical part of conversations, but we shouldn’t forget — they are rarely as powerful as smart, open-minded questions.
Open inquiry creates a space in conversations where differences can be respectfully discussed. Listening to and learning from one another is the heart of productive collaboration.
In a perfect world, rather than blurting out his negative comment to Lori, Roberto, with a bit of coaching, could have checked his story about her usurping his power and shifted his opinion to ask a sincere question about Lori’s assignment.
Similarly, had Lori responded as we discussed early (“What are your concerns about compiling the data?”), she could have transformed the entire conversation. Her words would have shown her understanding of Roberto’s story, her humility in the face of authority, and her ability to ask curious and skillful questions. This would have likely led to a mutual understanding.
Pro Tip: It only takes one person to change the tone and mood of a challenging conversation.
Managing people within complex hierarchies can be challenging, but increasing awareness of these four conversational skills and applying them in the workplace can guide individuals and their teams toward more collaborative and less contentious conversations.
Gemma McCall explores the reality of maternity discrimination in the workplace
Equality in the workplace has undeniably become a more dominant focus in the past few years. Events such as the global pandemic have caused a shift in the expectations employees have of their employers, and equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace have shot to the top of the agenda.
For those that decide to have children, their experience while pregnant is a huge part of equality. A 2016 report from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, plus the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, found three in four mothers (77%) had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave, and on their return from maternity leave. While half of mothers (50%) described a negative impact on their opportunity, status or job security*.
Our new research suggests the situation is improving, but there is still more to be done given one in four (26%) expectant mothers feel reluctant to share their pregnancy news due to fear of the stigma they may face from colleagues and managers.
Pregnancy can have a considerable impact on career progression and even funding for pensions in later life, purely as a result of the time taken out for maternity leave
The impact of maternity on careers
Naturally, having a child is a pivotal moment for parents, affecting many aspects of their life and this step can often lead to negative workplace experiences. For mothers carrying a child, research shows pregnancy can have a considerable impact on career progression and even funding for pensions in later life, purely as a result of the time taken out for maternity leave.
More than one in eight expectant mothers (12%) surveyed have experienced maternity discrimination within the workplace, with more than one in ten (11%) saying that it was their manager who discriminated against them.
Such treatment can have a negative impact on company culture as businesses are creating a workplace where one in six (16%) expectant mothers feel like they are no longer a valued member of the team. This is intensified as, one in 10 (10%) say their working hours were reduced when they told their manager they were pregnant and one in 14 (7%) say they weren't included in team meetings.
The impact on mental health
For one in six (16%) expectant mothers, negative treatment from managers and fellow employees has impacted their mental health. Being subjected to negative behaviour at work can often exacerbate any stress or anxiety they may already be experiencing either as a result of their pregnancy or even their usual workload.
For some expectant mothers’, the impact on their mental health results in them feeling isolated and losing confidence in themselves. Ultimately, this can lead to absenteeism, presenteeism and, in the longer term, a negative employer reputation.
Fostering a positive workplace culture
It’s in everyone’s interest to listen to employees and for organisations to foster a culture where colleagues feel confident in speaking up about discrimination in the workplace – whether they experience it or witness it.
For many of those who are experiencing maternity discrimination, the perpetrator can often be the person’s manager – the very person employees should be able to confide in. Managers are in a position of power; they hold accountability and they set an example to other employees as to what is acceptable behaviour within the workplace. They have a responsibility to uphold the values of the organisation. Where this is not being upheld, training can be a first step at rectifying negative behaviour but there must also be an understanding that training can only do so much. Effective policies and procedures are necessary to embed this within company culture.
Employers need to ensure that they are fostering a supportive community where people feel valued for the contributions they are making. Empowering people to speak up about problematic behaviour by removing barriers, will help employees and as a result the business thrive.
Workers In Their Late 30s And Older Face Ageism In A Recession—Here’s How To Fight Back
Ageism is a challenge for workers in their mid to late 30s. This issue should be of heightened concern, as everyone grows older and could be impacted by biases and prejudices in the workplace.
Companies are currently laying off workers and enacting hiring freezes in response to difficult economic conditions. There is a fear amongst experienced workers that they’ll be selected for downsizing due to their age. According to LinkedIn career experts, downsizing employees based on their age and preconceived notions about their abilities is a big mistake for organizations—not to mention illegal.
The career coaches offer insights into why businesses should not only avoid laying off older workers, but also celebrate the value this group brings to the table. There are also concerns raised that downsizing is not strictly due to age. Since older workers tend to earn more than their younger counterparts, they serve as a perfect target for when companies need to cut costs.
What Is Happening To Older Workers
The stock market and real estate boom over the last few years made Baby Boomers feel financially comfortable to quit their jobs, retire and enjoy their good fortunes. Now that real estate prices are declining, due to higher interest and mortgage costs, and the stock market is in bear territory, down around 25%, many are reconsidering their decision. They are concerned that it will be nearly impossible to find a new job because of their age.
According to a CNBC survey, more than 90% of retirees would return to work if the pay and position were fair and reasonable. However, it may not be so easy for this older cohort, as almost 80% of older workers say that they’ve had to deal with age discrimination, according to AARP.
The University of Chicago conducted a study showing that the virus outbreak derailed the finances and careers of people 50 years and older. Many seasoned professionals lost their jobs. Now, experienced workers need to worry about what will happen in a recession.
In a MarketWatch opinion piece, Brett Arends wrote, “Age discrimination in the jobs market, which is supposedly illegal, goes up in recessions. Some employers take the opportunity to ax experienced workers who are paid a reasonable wage, and replace them with cheap, desperate kids who will put up with anything.” Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research found “age discrimination rises hand in hand with the unemployment rate.” Older workers tend to be the last hired and the first fired.
Ways In Which Older Workers Are Targeted
If you check out the career sites of major corporations, you’ll be greeted with the fresh, shiny and happy faces of 23- to 33-year-olds. When you go to tech, startups and other “cool” companies, the young staffers wear beanies, jeans, T-shirts or hoodies. Once in a while, there will be a token, gray-haired person.
A significant way for businesses to save money and cut costs is to eliminate middle management. These are the 40-and-up group of folks. Roles are juniorized and middle managers are squeezed out. This means that mid-to-senior level jobs are eliminated and replaced with roles that only require three to five years of experience. You’ll notice the proliferation of job descriptions that only ask for candidates with a couple of years of experience, and the titles are at associate or analyst levels.
Companies relocate jobs to lower-cost states and locations outside of the United States, in another effort to save money. Businesses can pay considerably less money to workers in lower-cost locations and demand more of them. The older, more costly employees are not invited to move, as they possess too much experience and are asking for a salary that is greater than the band allows. Management believes that younger workers are only too happy to have a job and will do whatever is asked of them, as they desperately need to pay off their college tuition payments.
There is also an unconscious bias and sometimes not-so-hidden view that experienced workers will come aboard and want to take charge immediately. They’ll claim that they have all of the answers, as they’ve been working in the field for 30-plus years and boss the younger workers around.
It is said that people want to work with people who look like them. Young managers are uncomfortable with older workers, as they feel they don't speak the same language, dress similarly and share the same sensibilities. They believe that they are out of touch with current trends.
Examples Of Ageism In The Workplace
Several high-profile age discrimination cases have been filed against top-tier corporations. In 2019, Google settled an age discrimination lawsuit concerning its hiring practices. More than 200 job seekers over the age of 40 who applied for positions at Google were awarded a settlement of $11 million. The tech giant was told to train employees and management about age bias, form a committee focused on age diversity—with respect to recruiting—and ensure age-related complaints are fully investigated to comply with the settlement terms.
Two months later, a legal complaint was filed by plaintiff Rodney Broome in Santa Clara County Superior Court, accusing Google of age discrimination and harassment. The claimant asserted that Google and one of its managers allegedly engaged in age discrimination.
The supervisor indicated in the complaint was accused of waging a campaign of harassment against the 72-year-old Broome and allegedly intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him because of his age. Allegations were raised that Broome was told by his boss that he was "old and slow," called "grandpa," acting as if he’s "in retirement mode" and berated as "a worthless piece of shit."
At one point in time, companies could use Facebook’s job-platform screening tools to only show their job listings to job seekers of a certain age. It was alleged that some companies excluded older workers from ever seeing the job advertisements. Subsequently, a class-action lawsuit was filed alleging that the corporations utilized Facebook’s platform and analytics to share jobs with only younger prospective job seekers. Older potential applicants never had a chance to view the ad and, therefore, could not apply to the company.
In 2018, IBM terminated the employment of roughly 20,000 American employees over 40, amounting to more than 60% of its total U.S. job cuts. A class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of former IBM employees asserting age discrimination in its job cuts. In a cost-cutting initiative, Verizon, the largest telecommunications company, offered a “voluntary separation program” to its employees, which was alleged to be a means to a massive layoff of older workers.
If you look closely, you’ll see examples of age discrimination everywhere. Here is just a small sampling:
- Job descriptions usually call for candidates with three to seven years of experience. You rarely see a job listing that requires 20 to 30 years of relevant experience.
- Many job advertisements demand knowledge and competencies with technology systems and use technical terminology that may not resonate with older workers.
- Using corporate titles, such as “associate,” dissuades older job candidates from applying out of embarrassment over taking a so-called junior role.
- Corporate career pages routinely show pictures of cool, happy and young employees working in their offices. There’s a paucity of people with gray hair.
- Hiring managers look at the candidate’s college graduation dates and don’t contact them.
- The rapid increase of people freely saying derogatory terms, such as “OK, Boomer” to put someone down or calling a middle-aged woman “Karen” disparagingly.
Why companies like UPS and Disney are allowing workers to show their tattoos
The growing battle to attract and retain workers has led employers to adjust longstanding workplace and hiring policies, from embracing hybrid and remote work to eliminating college degree requirements. A less-covered policy also changing: visible display of tattoos on workers.
- Disney, UPS, Virgin Atlantic, and the U.S. Army are among organizations that have relaxed visible tattoo restrictions in the workplace amid a tight labor market and as an increasing percentage of the population chooses to get tattooed.
- The New York City Council is contemplating a bill that covers discrimination against people with tattoos, including in the workplace.
- While employee tattoo policy has often been guided by negative stigmas, a recent study suggests customer sentiment was the same regardless if the workers had tattoos or not.
Companies including Disney, UPS and Virgin Atlantic have relaxed their dress and style codes to allow employees to show their tattoos in the workplace. Many of the moves have come over the past two years as the tight labor market that preceded Covid became even more intensely competitive during the pandemic.
When longtime Home Depot CFO Carol Tomé was named CEO of UPS in June 2020, many of her first efforts to shake up the package delivery giant centered around increasing the job satisfaction of the company’s more than 534,000 workers globally. A few of those initiatives centered on the company’s dress and style restrictions.
“We did not allow facial hair; we did not allow natural hair. So, if you’re African American and you wanted to have an afro or twist or braid, that wasn’t permitted. Our tattoo policy was more restrictive than the U.S. Army,” Tomé told CNBC last year.
UPS, well known for its regimented brown uniform and driver dress code, acknowledged that it needed to make changes that “would create a more modern workplace for our employees that allows them to bring their authentic selves to work,” said Christopher Bartlett, UPS vice president of people and culture.
Initially, UPS looked at its hair- and beard-related policies, which previously barred men from having hair that extended below the collar or beards. The adjusted policy, rolled out in November 2020, now permits beards and mustaches “worn in a businesslike manner,” as well as several “natural hairstyles.” The policy, however, says employees are expected to maintain a neat and clean appearance “appropriate for their job and workplace,” and that hair or beard length can’t be a safety concern.
Bartlett said after that policy was well received, UPS began looking at changes to its tattoo policy. Previously, the company barred employees from showing any visible tattoos — workers with tattoos had to cover them with long sleeves or pants, or skin-colored coverings.
After a series of culture surveys, discussions with employees and other research, UPS settled on a new policy announced in April 2021 that would allow employees to show their tattoos provided they don’t contain any offensive words or images. Workers are also not allowed to have tattoos on their hands, head, neck or face.
“Tattoos matter to people, and while there was a time where people may have gotten a tattoo on a whim, more frequently now a tattoo really matters to someone; it’s part of who they are,” Bartlett said. “We wanted people to feel like they could bring themselves to work not only in their current job but as they thought about their whole career.”
Disney’s parks division underwent a similar shift in April 2021, updating its dress and style code to allow workers to show their tattoos, which it said was part of a wider effort to make its employees and guests feel more welcome at its theme parks.
The policy change “provides greater flexibility with respect to forms of personal expression surrounding gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos,” Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products, wrote in a blog post on Disney’s website.
“We’re updating them to not only remain relevant in today’s workplace, but also enable our cast members to better express their cultures and individuality at work,” D’Amaro wrote.
According to the Disney cast member handbook, visible tattoos that are no larger than an extended hand are permitted except for any on the face, head, or neck. For larger tattoos on the arm or leg, employees can wear matching fabric tattoo sleeves. Any tattoos that depict nudity, offensive or inappropriate language, or violate any company policies are also not permitted.
Disney did not respond to a request for comment.
Virgin Atlantic, the British airline owned by Richard Branson, removed its ban on visible tattoos for uniformed employees in May. Estelle Hollingsworth, chief people officer at Virgin Atlantic, said in an emailed statement, “Many people use tattoos to express their unique identities and our customer-facing and uniformed colleagues should not be excluded from doing so if they choose.”
The U.S. Army has taken similar steps, rolling out an updated directive in June further expanding its tattoo allowance, including tattoos on hands and the back of the neck. The Army previously relaxed its restrictions that limited the number of tattoos that recruits and soldiers could have on their arms and legs in 2015.
“We always review policy to keep the Army as an open option to as many people as possible who want to serve,” Maj. Gen. Doug Stitt, Director of Military Personnel Management, told the Army’s news service. “This directive makes sense for currently serving Soldiers and allows a greater number of talented individuals the opportunity to serve now.”
According to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, 41% of 18- to 34-year-olds have at least one or more tattoos.
Enrica Ruggs, an associate professor at the University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business Department of Management and Leadership, said that there have been long-standing negative stigmas towards tattoos that harkened back to biker culture and a sense that rebellious people were the ones that got tattoos. That carried over into corporate culture, where hiring managers would stereotype applicants with visible tattoos, or where employers would worry that employing someone with tattoos would turn off customers.
However, Ruggs said recent research found that most tattoos now reflect a sense of belonging – for example, in-memorial images, callouts to their culture or profession, or a tattoo that matches one on a loved one.
Ruggs ran an experiment measuring customer reaction to workers wearing temporary tattoos. While some customers still held negative stereotypes about tattoos, the tattooed employees had just as many sales as the untattooed ones. Negative stereotypes also did not negatively affect customer perception of the organization. In fact, tattooed employees in white-collar or creative jobs were looked at more favorably and competent than non-tattooed employees by customers, Ruggs’ research showed.
“Part of the argument has always been that it’ll hurt the organization, and that could actually change a consumer’s purchasing behavior,” Ruggs said. “But if the cornerstone of your business is service, that’s not changing, but allowing and relaxing some of these policies can help with employee morale and can expand who you can hire, which can help to improve employee performance. If employees are happy and they feel satisfied with their employee, they are likely to also be very productive.”
While there aren’t exact statistics regarding tattoos, a January Rasmussen Reports survey found that nearly half of Americans under 40 have tattoos. Across all ages, 33% of Americans have tattoos, the survey found.
The New York City Council currently has a bill that would look to curb discrimination against people with tattoos, including in the workplace. The bill would add tattoos to the categories in the city’s administrative code that are already prohibited from discrimination such as race or sexual orientation. While it would still allow employers to mandate that employees cover tattoos, it would require them to prove that not showing a tattoo is a “bona fide occupational qualification.”
Bartlett said that after UPS changed its policy, he noticed that several employees posted their UPS-themed tattoos on the company’s internal message board.
“When someone puts a UPS logo on them after a 25-year driving career here, that matters, and it shows that the company matters to them,” he said. “This isn’t a P&L play here, but this is about inclusion and bringing your authentic self to work.”
Disabled people were among the hardest hit by pandemic-related job losses, but the rise in remote work also created new opportunity.
In 2020, disabled people were among the hardest hit by pandemic-related job losses. The employment rate for workers with disabilities fell to 17.9%, eventually yielding a record high unemployment rate of 17.7% in late 2020—a major blow for a community that has long faced workplace discrimination and other barriers to gainful employment. At the same time, many disabled workers who had previously been denied remote accommodations by potential employers watched as companies scrambled to support far-flung employees who suddenly needed to work from home.
But the pandemic also presented an opportunity: Companies were forced to recruit workers remotely, which created an opening for people who had traditionally been shut out of in-person jobs. As companies not only survived the transition to remote work but thrived in spite of it, it seemed like many of them had finally seen the value in better accommodating people with disabilities who needed to work from home.
Recent employment figures indicate that disabled people have, in fact, gained a stronger foothold in the workforce, likely due to the popularity of remote work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of disabled workers ages 16 to 64 who are employed was well over 5.5 million during the summer months; as of September, that figure had crossed 5.8 million, accounting for nearly 4% of workers overall. The labor force participation rate rose to 38% in September, up from 37.6% in August, a year-over-year increase from 36.4% in September 2021.
A report by the Kessler Foundation noted that the employment-to-population ratio, which measures the number of people working within a certain population, had been “above historic highs” for disabled people over the last year. (In September, the employment-to-population rate reached 34.9%; back in 2019, it was just 19.3%.) Among people without disabilities, both the employment-to-population ratio and labor force participation have increased year over year, though nowhere near the same rate as in the disabled population.
These gains could continue as companies struggle to attract and retain workers in a tight labor market. For companies looking to signal a genuine commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, a mandate to hire and retain more disabled employees could be a meaningful step in the right direction. And with the growing footprint of long COVID-19, the disabled population in the U.S.—which is estimated at more than 40 million—has also expanded over the course of the pandemic, creating a new crop of employees who might be seeking remote work or other accommodations in the workplace. A Brookings report found that of the estimated 16 million Americans who have long COVID, about 3 million may be out of work, representing the equivalent of more than $168 billion a year in lost wages.
Still, advocates have concerns about what might happen as employers push to get workers back in the office and start to walk back some of the accommodations they extended during the pandemic. With companies embracing hybrid schedules or even mandating that employees return to the office full time, it’s possible that disabled workers could get sidelined again—though as their numbers continue to grow, companies may also find that they can’t afford to lose valuable employees.
Coming Out in the Workplace: The Importance of Belonging and Psychological Safety
Many queer employees still don’t feel safe coming out at work
It’s easy to imagine that LGBTQ+ people have found broad acceptance in our world with more mainstream representation and the legalization of gay marriage. However, one in four LGBTQ+ employees are not out in the workplace.
I understand the fear that keeps people from coming out. I’ve been out as queer to some degree since I was a teenager while also gender non-conforming in the deep South, raised in a religious environment where I was not accepted for many years.
I’ve had 20 plus years to come to terms with people’s reactions to me and yet, there’s still always a moment of anxiety in my chest when I meet people, when I check out at the grocery store, when I walk into a new place, and when I’m introduced to a new coworker.
Because I’ve had slurs yelled at me while walking down the street. I’ve been threatened with physical violence, including at a friend’s wedding because I danced with the woman I was dating at the time.
I’ve heard coworkers say ignorant and hateful things about queer and trans people. I’ve been glared at, stared at, and felt uncomfortable in more spaces than I can count.
Social dynamics are not separate from workplace dynamics
On a larger scale, there are anti-gay and trans laws being pushed through state legislatures, bans on discussing LGBTQ+ issues in schools, the specter of gay marriage being repealed by the Supreme Court, and a general backlash toward queer and trans people, as society simultaneously moves toward wider acceptance.
This is a common dynamic during times of social change.
There are also many states without workplace protections for queer and trans people, including the state I live in. Which is all to point out that for employees, coming out at work can be terrifying, and those who choose to come out face the very real prospect of repercussions.
Of course, each workplace is a unique ecosystem of relational networks between employees. There are some workplaces where people feel safe coming out and are completely accepted. But that is not the reality for many employees.
It’s also extremely important to note that people who inhabit multiple marginalized identities will likely be thinking through a more complex calculus when deciding whether or not they feel safe coming out at work.
A woman of color already contending with sexism and racism in the workplace may understandably decide that coming out is not something they feel safe doing.
Barriers to coming out in the workplace
There are many polls and surveys illustrating the hardships queer and trans employees face in the workplace:
These numbers are likely why only one in four LGBTQ+ employees are out at work, and what underpins the statistics are individual stories. It’s difficult to look at the numbers and fully understand what people experience when they don’t feel safe coming out to their coworkers.
The closet is a barrier to connection and belonging
One of my good friends, who works in social services, is not out at work.
They’ve often texted me to vent after overhearing coworkers saying horrible things about gay and trans people, commenting on news around LGBTQ+ issues in a negative way, and generally feeling free to be openly homophobic in the workplace—knowing there are no repercussions.
They were even directly talked about someone not being hired for a high ranking position in their organization because that person was openly gay and non-gender conforming. The phrasing used was something like, “this person cannot represent our organization looking like that and being married to a woman.”
My friend told me, “Living in silence at work is awful. My partner sent me balloons and flowers for our anniversary and I had to lie about who they were from. I immediately went into panic mode and started trying to figure out how to handle it so no one would know they were from my partner. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells all the time.”
Of course, they don’t feel safe coming out. Of course, they don’t feel as if they fully belong in their organization. How can they feel a sense of belonging when they must hide that they have a partner? When they have to hide something fundamental to their sense of self?
It’s not surprising, in light of such stories, that LGBTQ+ employees are more likely to deal with mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and burnout. Queer and trans workers are also more likely to say their workplace environment has a negative impact on their mental health.
Coming out at work is essential to belonging
Millions of Americans identify as being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. The number has doubled since the last major survey in 2012, with younger generations making up a large percentage of that increase. This means more and more employees will face the decision to come out at work.
It also means that companies and organizations have work to do to ensure their employees feel safe coming out.
I can’t emphasize this enough: employees must feel safe at work to come out and will never fully belong when that safety isn’t present.
Cultivating a culture of belonging in the workplace is fundamental to strengthening workplace relationships, catalyzing innovation, bettering engagement, and generally creating a more interesting and diverse organization.
Regarding attracting top talent, unsurprisingly, 58% of LGBTQ+ employees have passed up jobs for companies they felt were not inclusive, and 40% of all employees passed up jobs for the same reason.
Employees who are out in the workplace report higher levels of happiness with their careers. Additionally, LGBTQ+ women who are out at work are half as likely to leave their workplace in the next year than people who aren’t out.
How to support employees who choose to come out in the workplace
First of all, if an employee discussescoming out with a supervisor or People leader, it’s essential to hold space for them to discuss what they need, and acknowledge and validate how they’re feeling.
Secondly, ask the employee how they feel comfortable coming out. Every individual has their own preferences and style of handling the way their identity is presented to the world.
Here are a few potential coming out scenarios:
- The employee is planning on coming out individually to coworkers, and simply wants to know that a manager or HR leader has their back
- They want to email everyone on their team and give their manager a heads up first
For the third option, the leader can provide specific ways for teammates to be supportive to the person coming out and express how important this is, along with any relevant information, such as how to talk about pronouns at work.
- They don’t feel safe at all, and would like a leader to meet individually with team members to explain that the person is coming out
Let employees take the lead and follow up with support
For People leaders and managers who are unsure of how to handle an employee coming out, let the employee lead, and ask what kind of support they need. You can’t go wrong taking that route.
If needed, a gentle reminder can be given to team members about cultivating an inclusive company culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging.
Hopefully it won’t come to this, but some people may need a reminder about the company’s policies around discrimination and DEI. This is also a good time to allow the employees to ask any questions or talk through any concerns.
An excellent way to equip People leaders to navigate these conversations and coming out situations is to provide one-on-one leadership training. Spring Health’s Care Navigators are licensed clinicians who can guide leaders through scenarios, and provide tools to help them become allies in making queer and trans people feel safe enough to come out at work.
Again, how this is handled should be figured out in partnership with the person coming out.
Changing workplace culture so LGBTQ+ employees feel safe
Creating a workplace culture where queer employees feel safe to come out isn’t about a singular policy prescription or day of awareness. Each company’s culture is unique. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
It’s a process that requires adaptation, feedback from employees, and letting LGBTQ+ employees lead. Here are some ways to get started:
- Include workplace protections for LGBTQ+ employees through non-discrimination policies. 28 states don’t have those, and in many places, it is legal to discriminate against queer and trans folks
- DEI training. Education and awareness are a huge part of any social change.
- Create an LGBTQ+ ERG, if you don’t have one already.
- Use gender neutral language for policies and healthcare benefits.
- Encourage a pronoun friendly culture. People leaders and supervisors/managers can be role models.
- Have policies and systems in place to address discrimination and follow up with employees who report discrimination. A sense of justice and fairness will make employees feel safer coming out.
- Provide fast access to mental health support through innovative EAPs
- Offer People leader and supervisor training
Sometimes, it’s the small things
Living as a gender non-conforming person means that I never know how I’ll be treated when I walk into a business or public place. Seeing a small rainbow flag that says “all are welcome here” is really powerful.
Joining a Zoom meeting and hearing everyone introduce themselves with their pronouns lets me know there’s the possibility of connection and safety. Seeing pronouns in email signatures tells me that person is more likely to accept me.
Commit to creating a culture of belonging
Change doesn’t happen all at once. It may take some time, feedback, and the deployment of various strategies.
But one thing I do know is that your employees will notice. Change is a process of accumulation—the more energy that’s poured into reshaping workplace culture, the more employees will feel safe coming out.
My manager stood above my cubicle desk; her arms raised as she screamed at me.
“Why can’t you be like everyone else on the team?” she roared.
And then she walked away.
When I looked up, my face hot with shame, I saw my team staring at me with embarrassment and disbelief. “Are you okay?” a coworker finally asked. “That was insane.”
“Oh, that’s not her normal behavior,” I thought.
This wasn’t the first time my manager had behaved this way towards me, but it was the first time I realized that she didn’t treat the rest of the team like this.
A survey done by Gallup last year found that workplace discrimination disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic workers, and this type of discrimination can impact their feelings of psychological safety and sense of belonging at work and their ability to do their best.
Workplace bullying impacts more than 30% of American workers, which impacts an employee’s sense of psychological safety. In my case, I was systematically alienated from my teammates as my high-profile projects were slowly replaced with administrative tasks.
My work was highly scrutinized and often sabotaged due to a lack of direction and incomplete or vague assignments.
This was foreign territory to me. I’d always been the star student. For the first time, I was not shining.
It felt like there was no way out of this situation. Nothing I did seemed to change my leadership’s opinion of me. I came in early, stayed late, volunteered for more assignments, and nothing worked.
After many months of this intense scrutiny and alienation, I was completely broken.
My hands trembled when I wrote emails. I felt sick to my stomach anytime I submitted a project for review.
Eventually, I fell into an intense depression. I struggled to get out of bed in the morning, after tossing and turning most nights. I cried on my commute to work every day. I gained twenty pounds and even had to get fitted for a night guard because I’d started grinding my teeth at night.
The final straw came, during a particularly nasty conversation where I was berated, told that I was completely incompetent, and practically interrogated like I was on trial. After throwing her papers across the desk at me, my manager asked me if I had anything to say.
By this point, I had a lot to say, and in that moment, I realized I had to stand up for myself.
While it probably wasn’t the most professional or productive conversation I’ve ever had in the workplace, that conversation is still the proudest moment of my professional career.
I told her exactly how I felt and what my expectations were of her as a leader, but mostly I told her that I was not going to accept this level of mistreatment any longer.
e parted ways and I was quickly able to land another job with an amazing leader and great new teammates.
But, the new job didn’t fix me.
I was still broken, and now I was paranoid that maybe, just maybe everything that my previous manager had said about me was actually true.
I’d still proofread emails at least four times before sending them. I still didn’t speak up in meetings (even when I knew I had something valuable to say). And while they were lovely people, I still didn’t trust my new teammates.
If I was going to get back to being the rock star employee that I’d once been, I’d have to fix myself. While leaders should address institutional workplace bullying, there are a few ways we can take matters into our own hands.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS
When I was bullied, I wanted so badly to be validated by my workplace. I went to HR. Nothing happened. I wanted my teammates to step in on my behalf. None of them did. I learned that I had to acknowledge my own feelings and the hurt and disappointment that I felt, even if my workplace never did. Burying my feelings was not going to help me heal from this traumatic experience.
DROP THE LIES
Bullies and toxic work cultures have the unique ability (through consistent harassment) to make you think that you are just not good enough to be in the same room, office building, or team as them. I decided to sit down and write all the “lies” my bullies had said about me, and then I ripped that piece of paper to shreds.
REPLACE LIES WITH THE TRUTH
I pulled out another piece of paper and wrote down everything I knew to be true about myself as an employee and a person. And I would read that list of truths to myself every morning before starting my work day. Doing this every day and adding new points of evidence helped me slowly start to rebuild my confidence.
Having a community to support you is vitally important as you are going through or coming out of an extremely negative workplace situation. I created a team of trusted adviseors, coworkers, and friends that I leaned on for mental and emotional support while I was going through my bullying situation and even afterward, because, again, a new job by itself won’t heal you. You’ll need that support system.
Since doing this inner work, I have found career joy and confidence at work (and never had another bad performance review). On top of this, it led me into coaching, which has given me the opportunity to help other women and women of color rebuild their confidence after encountering a workplace bully.
Workplace bullying is taxing, and exhausting, and it can completely erode our confidence. While finding a supportive work environment is crucial for career fulfillment, it’s equally important that we do the inner work that allows us to both survive and thrive in professional environments.
Wanna know why staff are quitting? Look at what they’re saying on social media
Let’s get a few things straight about the so-called ‘Great Resignation’.
Firstly, it’s not ‘great’ at all. What’s so great hearing about record numbers of Americans quitting their jobs each and every month?
And – of this I am absolutely sure – reading yet another article about it no doubt gives people a feeling of wary ‘resignation’ too.
So, what can be added to this over-written-about HR topic that actually provides some benefit?
Maybe it’s understanding ‘why’ people are resigning in the first place.
Get a handle on this and HRDs at least stand a chance of being able to do something about it.
That’s where new research from Stand OutCV comes.
It analyzed the only source of information that seems to matter nowadays – people’s social media accounts – to find out what people were really saying was the reason they quit their jobs.
It analyzed thousands of tweets, Reddit posts and social media comments where users had stated they had recently quit their jobs (using phrases such as “quit my job”, “two week’s notice” or “resigned”).
This dataset was then filtered down to 2,698 posts where someone revealed the specific reasons that caused them to hand in their resignation.
The results of their analysis might surprise you.
The full top 30 list can be seen below:
- The most common reason for quitting was suffering from burnout and mental health problems (15.75%)
- Having a bad manager was found to be the second most common reason for someone to quit their job, with bad behavior (25.29%) and not respecting a work-life balance (10.92%) the most frequently mentioned issues in posts relating to bad bosses.
- One in ten (10.57%) of social media posts about quitting jobs were due to employees disagreeing with their workplace’s Covid-19 vaccination/mask enforcement. This was the third most frequent reason mentioned for leaving a job.
- Discrimination was found to be the 8th most-common reason people quit (4.04%), with 31.25% of those posts relating to racism in the workplace.
- The 9th most frequently mentioned reason (by 3.75%) was due to having a successful side hustle they could replace their job with.
||Reason for Quitting
||Share of Social Media Posts (%)
||Burnout or mental health issues
||No work-life balance
||Got a new job
||Physical health issues
||Working while sick
||No remote working options
||To seek education
||Lack of promotion
While having poor managers was the second-biggest reason people quit their jobs, social media posts were awash with talking about just how bad managers were.
Not only did a quarter of this dataset reveal bad behavior from the manager toward the employee, but there were also accusations of bullying/abuse (from 8.62%); micromanagement (8.05%); discrimination (6.9%); medical issues not being respected (6.32%) and being denied a promotion (4.02%). Some 4.45% also said that managers showed a lack of employee appreciation.
Where discrimination was mentioned, racism was mentioned in 31.25% of discrimination-related social media posts, followed by sexism (19.8%), ableism (8.38%), and LGBTQIA+-related discrimination in 3.13% of posts.
Says Andrew Fennell, director, StandOutCV: “The Great Resignation is estimated to have caused more than 47 million Americans to voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021, and the end of March 2022 saw 14.1% more voluntary exits than when compared to the same month in 2021. Employees are clearly unhappy, and they’re more than happy to leave their roles to prove it.”
He added: “Mental health problems and poor management have sadly become reflective of the pandemic working era and exactly what we would expect to see in this study about The Great Resignation. But it’s shocking to see the third most frequent reason employees quit is because of disagreements with their workplaces Covid-19 mandates.”
He said: “These tweets and Reddit posts were still being posted online in May 2022, so there’s no sign of this divide going away anytime soon.”
Time to look at reasons responsible for employee burnout
On World Mental Health Day, we need to remember that as change is the only constant, it should also reflect at workplaces
We are more than our jobs is a fact, not a myth. However, capitalistic times bring capitalistic facts. The word ‘toxic’ has been associated with the workplace environment for a very long time now.
The toxic work culture that has been thriving for a very long time can be attributed to multiple factors as per the CEO of ClearForce, Tom Miller, who said that it could be a range of actions and behaviors displayed at the workplace that could qualify for the same – bullying, harassment of employees, lack of consideration for the employees, poor work life balance, unethical practices, poor pay among many others.
A trend that has gone viral on ‘TikTok’ has now caught the attention of the people with many relating to it. This is a video that was posted in July 2022 by the username @zkchillin wherein the user mentioned “You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond. You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work has to be your life; the reality is it’s not, and your worth as a person is not defined by your labour”.
It is assumed that the people do their jobs with the highest level of passion, purpose and sincerity without understanding the silent unpopular factors such as poor economy, degrading job market, lack of opportunities, lack of skills and accessibility to resources and spaces, rampant discrimination at the workplace. All of these get even worse for the under-privileged, vulnerable and marginalized sections.
Anthony Klotz, Associate Professor at University of College London’s School of Management, says, “Although this has come from a younger generation and in new packaging, this trend has been studied under different names for decades: disengagement, neglect, withdrawal.” The term ‘coasting’ primarily means the same thing - wherein one does what is expected of them without going above and beyond their job requirements.
An article titled ‘Rather than quit, more and more employees are happy to just get by and collect their salaries. Is it necessarily a problem?’ by Alex Christian was published in BBC in 2022. It explains the many reasons why employees choose to work the way they do and ‘No’, it has nothing to do with ‘laziness’. Mark Bolino, Director of Management and International Business at the University of Oklahoma, US, explains how multiple reasons could lead to employee coasting, with this phenomenon gaining higher popularity since the pandemic, factors such as burnout, missed promotion, poor match between contribution and reward, poor mental health, mounting deadlines/projects leading to a “natural ebb and flow to work” (Bolino).
While the heat on quiet (or not so quiet) quitting is going on in and out of the digital space, CEO of Bombay Shaving company, Shantanu Deshpande, has come under radar now for his online post that reads, “When you are 22 and new in your job, throw yourself into it. Eat well and stay fit, but put in the 18-hour days for at least 4-5 years. I see a LOT of youngsters who watch random content all over and convince themselves that ‘work life balances, spending time with family, rejuvenation bla bla’ is important. It is, but not that early. That early, worship your work.
Whatever it is. The flex you build in the first five years of your career carries you for the rest of it.”
Deshpande is quickly joined by Harsimarbir Singh, Co-founder Pristyn Care, who has shared a checklist of ‘eligibility criteria’ to get the right people on board, which directly point towards the extremely toxic hustle culture of today’s times. Singh in the past has defended the LinkedIn post shared by Shantanu Deshpande and has further added that ‘successful’ people have a list of common factors - long working hours, missed family events, working when others were relaxing.
If we truly want our employees to be healthy, happy and productive at their work, then it is high time we reworked and broke down on what we have built over the years as the so called ‘work-culture’, because clearly this is not serving the right purpose to the people involved as evidently seen in the current times. If change is the only constant, shouldn’t that show in the right form at the workspace? Before we acknowledge the quietness levels of quitting, it would be wise to look at the myriad reasons that are responsible for an ever growing and evolving population of constantly burnout, unhappy and unhealthy employees today who are popularly quietly quitting and un-popularly made to ‘quit’ quietly.