roadIf you had a million dollars (or more) to investigate your culture, what would you find out? (Music fans may appreciate the classic “If I Had a Million Dollars” song from the Barenaked Ladies. You’re welcome.)

Well, Uber engaged a lawfirm, Covington & Burling, and the former Attorney General Eric Holder to do just that — interviews with over 200 people, reviews of over 3 million documents — and discovered a lot.  It isn’t pretty.

Thankfully, the firm released its recommendations for all the world to see. In doing so, the report actually can serve as a bit of a road map of what to do at your company if you have some similar issues.  All for free.

You can and should review the report here.  There are some specifics that won’t be helpful — like allocating the responsibilities of the CEO.  But there are many others which show what the best practices are at companies in 2017.  Here are a few to get you started:

  • Use Performance Reviews to Hold Senior Leaders Accountable.  This recommendation is straightforward, but suggests that companies should have metrics that are tied to “improving diversity, responsiveness to employee complaints, employee satisfaction, and compliance.”  If you don’t hold senior leaders accountable, things will fall through the cracks.
  • Increase the Profile of [] Head of Diversity and the Efforts of His Organization.   This recommendation suggests something that may come as a surprise to some companies but reflects a growing shift in corporate culture, that is, that an “empowered senior leader who is responsible for diversity and inclusion is key to the integrity of” a company’s efforts.  Note the dual emphasis. As the report later explains, “It is equally important that the role address both diversity and inclusion. Diversity is generally viewed as focusing on the presence of diverse employees based on religion, race, age, sexual orientation, gender, and culture. Inclusion, on the other hand, focuses not just on the presence of diverse employees, but on the inclusion and engagement of such employees in all aspects of an organization’s operations.”
  • Human Resources Record-Keeping.  With the buzz about data, this recommendation reflections the growing wisdom that a company should have “appropriate tools, including complaint tracking software, to keep better track of complaints, personnel records and employee data.”  More than that, a company should “emphasize the importance of record-keeping to all Human Resources staff, and impose consequences for failure to adhere to record-keeping requirements.”  In other words, no longer should HR be viewed as secondary to a company’s mission. It’s front and center.
  • Training, Training, and Training.  I’m cheating a bit on this one because the report actually breaks down training at various levels, but the need for training is emphasized for senior leaders, HR staff, and managers.  And more than that, the company should also “require employees who routinely interview candidates…to undergo training on interviewing skills, conducting inclusive interviews and unconscious bias.”

There’s much more to the report, including additional suggestions specifically on diversity and inclusion efforts.   It’s a helpful roadmap for all companies.

 

The Gender Wage Gap Task Force in Connecticut issued its report last month with both findings and recommendations on a continued disparities between what men and women, on average, earn. In doing so, it recognized that there are multiple factors that are responsible for the gap in its view.  It paints a far more complicated picture of the wage gap than some politicians suggest.

As it detailed:

Understanding this inequity is not a simple matter. Many factors contribute to the overall wage gap including education and skills, experience, union membership, training, performance, hours worked and the careers women and men choose. However, even after these factors are controlled for, an estimated wage gap of 5-10% remains. The task force has identified six key contributors to the gender wage gap in Connecticut: unconscious bias, occupational segregation, lower starting salaries and positions for women, women’s slower career advancement, the existence of a glass ceiling and a lack of support for working families.

Mara Lee, from the Hartford Courant, does a nice job recapping some of the key findings.  Her take?

The report says that researchers have determined there are two reasons for that disparity: women don’t negotiate salary offers as often as men, and there may be subtle biases among bosses, even ones they don’t realize they have.

The report gives an example of a study of students graduating from Carnegie Mellon with master’s degrees, which found that 57 percent of men negotiated salary offers and 7 percent of women did. The men’s salaries were 7.6 percent higher than the women. And that $4,000 was almost the exact amount more that people who negotiated were paid compared to those who didn’t.

What might we see as a result of the report? There are a number of recommendations, but surprisingly few of them touch on changes to the legal system.

First, it suggests that Connecticut “align” its Family Medical Leave Act with the federal Family Medical Leave Act by expanding it to include companies with 50 or more employees.

If the General Assembly does take that up, legislators should consider narrowing the differences between the two statutes.  For example, Connecticut gives employees 16 weeks of leave over a 24 month period, instead of the federal 12 weeks of leave every twelve months, which can be confusing at times and leaves to strange results that allows employees to get 16 weeks of leave the first year and then another 12 weeks during the second year — far more than just the 16 weeks first contemplated under Connecticut law.

The report also recommends supporting paid leave programs, like those in New Jersey and California. Connecticut is currently studying various proposals.

Employers in Connecticut should remain cognizant of both the issues that this report raises and the legislative developments that may arise from it as a result.

With my work on the Law & Technology Symposium for the Connecticut Bar Foundation last week, there are several employment law topics that I haven’t had time to discuss in full.

While I’ve shared some of these links via my Twitter feed (which you can find at twitter.com/danielschwartz), I thought I would recap some of the most newsworthy items of the month so far.

In my presentation last week to the HRA of Greater New Haven (which i discussed yesterday), the hottest topic that people wanted to discuss was LinkedIn Recommendations.

People had several questions:

  • Should a company bar its employees from doing such recommendations?
  • Should a HR department "police" LinkedIn to ensure compliance?
  • What is the risk of allowing employees to post recommendations or receive recommendations?
  • And, does anyone actually rely on these recommendations?

This issue may take on some renewed prominence as LinkedIn has begun an aggressive series of steps to grow and expand its business.   

I discussed the issue of LinkedIn recommendations back in July after a article suggested that management-side lawyers were advising clients about the "hidden dangers" about LinkedIn.  At the time, I indicated that there were no reported cases about the use of LinkedIn.  Six months later, that remains the case. (You can even look it up yourself on Google Scholar.)

That does not mean that LinkedIn is without any risk.  Of course there is a possibility of a supervisor giving a recommendation to an employee that is inconsistent with a formal performance evaluation.   But that risk existed before the advent of social networks as well.

Each business will have to evaluate the risk as well but one suggestion that we discussed is that companies could prohibit current supervisors of existing employees from posting any recommendations on LinkedIn. That prevents the risk of inconsistency. Once that supervisor/employee relationship is ended (perhaps a new job for either of them), it seems that the restrictions could be lessened. 

But here’s the other truth that we discussed: People aren’t paying close attention to these recommendations because there are no controls in place. Nothing prevents friends from writing recommendations for other friends. And the "quid pro quo" recommendation — I’ll recommend you if you recommend me — are all too common. (This point was raised by the World of Work blog in a great post several months back.) 

In addition, are supervisors of bad employees going to be giving recommendations anyways? Probably not, says Molly DiBianca of the Delaware Employment Law Blog.

So what’s the right course of action? 

Well, for specific industries that have restrictions on the use of recommendations (such as financial advisors) the answer will be clear.  For many others though, this issue will remain murky.

But right now, employers frankly have much larger issues that they should be focusing on than regulating LinkedIn recommendations.  So, as an employer, discuss it if you must — but don’t treat it as a major concern for liability exposure because so far, that hasn’t been the case.  

 

My thanks to the Human Resource Association of Greater New Haven for the invitation to speak to that group last week on the topic of social media and employment law.  HRAGNH is an affiliate of SHRM and with nearly 60 attendees, we had a packed house for the event.

When I’ve given such talks in the past, I’ve always been a little disappointed that more people aren’t using social networking tools for their job searches or for recruiting talent.

But I had no such disappointment here — I’d estimate that about 90 percent of the crowd was already using LinkedIn and Facebook for business or personal use.  (Twitter trailed behind considerably and just one brave soul was using Google Wave). 

In fact, in my conversations with attendees, I was struck by the consistent two-fold message that recruiters and human resources professionals conveyed about social networking sites.

First, if you’re a job seeker and aren’t on LinkedIn, you might as well be invisible because you aren’t going to pop up when companies are looking for candidates.

And for employers, if you don’t have an active online social media presence and aren’t using LinkedIn to find candidates, you might as well be invisible because you don’t exist to many qualified job seekers who are looking for companies that understand technology and are utilizing it to gain a competitive advantage. And you aren’t going to be finding talent that can help your company.  

Several attendees were quick to note that some companies still needed some convincing about the utility of using social media for human resources purposes.  For example, many of them are fearful of the use of LinkedIn Recommendations. 

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll discuss the use of LinkedIn recommendations further and take a fresh look at the subject that I covered over the summer

in the meantime, the informal survey of HRA members shows that social networking has not only made inroads, but has definitely moved towards the mainstream.

 

With a new wave of swine flu (H1N1) predicted to hit in the upcoming weeks. the Centers for Disease Control released new updated guidance yesterday for employers with recommended actions for businesses to take. (H/T Ohio Employer’s Law Blog)

The guidance can be found in two documents: 

At the outset, the CDC acknowledges that trying to balance various interests will be difficult for businesses, depending on the severity of the flu outbreak:

All employers must balance a variety of objectives when determining how best to decrease the spread of influenza and lower the impact of influenza in the workplace. They should consider and communicate their objectives, which may include one or more of the following: (a) reducing transmission among staff, (b) protecting people who are at increased risk of influenza related complications from getting infected with influenza, (c) maintaining business operations, and (d) minimizing adverse effects on other entities in their supply chains.

The guidance then has a variety of action steps for employers to take right now. Some of these are not new; indeed, if you’ve been following this topic you’ll see that some of the suggestions (such as an influenza pandemic plan) have been suggested before. But now that the context of the flu outbreak can be seen, these recommendations may make sense a little more.

  • Review or establish a flexible influenza pandemic plan and involve your employees in developing and reviewing your plan;
  • Conduct a focused discussion or exercise using your plan, to find out ahead of time whether the plan has gaps or problems that need to be corrected before flu season;
  • Have an understanding of your organization’s normal seasonal absenteeism rates and know how to monitor your personnel for any unusual increases in absenteeism through the fall and winter.
  • Engage state and local health department to confirm channels of communication and methods for dissemination of local outbreak information;
  • Allow sick workers to stay home without fear of losing their jobs;
  • Develop other flexible leave policies to allow workers to stay home to care for sick family members or for children if schools dismiss students or child care programs close;
  • Share your influenza pandemic plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace and leave flexibilities, and pay and benefits will be available to them;
  • Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts; and
  • Add a “widget” or “button” to your company Web page or employee Web sites so employees can access the latest information on influenza: www.cdc.gov/widgets/ and www.cdc.gov/SocialMedia/Campaigns/H1N1/buttons.html

The guidance has much more information in detailed fashion about steps to take when the illnesses start occurring at work (and suggestions if the pandemic increases in severity).  It is well worth reading to stay up-to-date on this ever changing area.

(For local reaction to the CDC’s new guidance and what employers are doing in Connecticut, the Hartford Courant has this report.)

 

Recently released minutes from a December 2008 meeting (available here) of the CHRO commissioners reveal that an outside search firm is in the process of being retained to assist with an search for a new Executive Director.

The minutes — which are released approximately one month after the original meeting — discuss the status of the Executive Director search here:

Ms. [Michelle] Provost, [Fiscal Administrative Supervisor] also provided a brief overview regarding the status of the contract with Recruitment Enhancement Services for the Executive Director search. The contract has moved through two offices of review within the company. It is now before the final office for review and signature and they anticipate having that accomplished before the next Commission meeting. Ms. Provost added that she will need to determine when their next board meeting will be held so the company can apply for an exemption if needed.

RES is a Houston, Texas-based firm that specializes in effective recruiting for employers. There is no reference in the minutes on how much the contract is for or the expected time frame for completion of the search.

The minutes also reveal some progress on the advisory committee making recommendations to improve the CHRO. The minutes indicate that a draft set of recommendation have been made and are presently being circulated for review and comment:

There was a short discussion regarding the status of the Governor’s Task Force on CHRO. [A speaker] indicated that the last meeting was held in September. A final set of draft recommendations was reviewed by the Office of Policy and Management, who made some minor revisions to them. [A speaker] agreed to forward a copy of the most recent set of draft recommendations to the Commissioners.