I’m attending the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in New York City for the next several days, where I serve as a member of the House of Delegates.  I’ll discuss some of those House of Delegate items in an upcoming post or two where they impact employers.

In the meantime, there was an interesting program at the meeting on Thursday where some of the speakers talked about "micro-inequities" in the workplace.  The ABA Journal has the details:

A January 2007 survey by Korn/Ferry International found that that more than 2 million professionals and managers leave their jobs each year because of unfairness in the workplace, costing employers an estimated $64 billion a year in hiring costs. People of color were three times more likely than white heterosexual men to cite workplace unfairness as the reason they quit their jobs, the study found.

While [the speaker] praises his firm for its workplace practices, he says it’s likely that law firms are losing employees over micro-inequities. “I don’t think it’s any different in law firms than it is in other industry,” he said in an interview.

He called for an awareness of the problem at the program sponsored by the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. And he said employers can battle it through best practices that include raising sensitivity, creating mentoring programs, forming affinity groups where problems can be discussed and appointing ombudspeople to handle complaints.

This program brings up a point that I have made several times before. Many of the issues that arise in the workplace may first be based on perceived slights: asking certain employees to lunch; giving chummy co-workers a nickname, while ignoring others; claiming an idea that may have been offered by a co-worker. 

Fairness in the workplace is the single-most important item that employers can focus on to reduce the risk of lawsuits.  Continuing to focus on issues that employees face on a day-to-day basis can go along way to allaying fears of employees that they are being ignored or slighted.