Diversity and Inclusion: Fostering a Tolerant and Productive Workplace

While the overall effort to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we’ve all been witness to the continued traumas engendered by racism, hatred and discrimination across the country.

With the recent incidents and acts of violence against African Americans – including the killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia – there is a new spirit and energy taking hold across the US to address these systemic issues head-on.

The goal, as always, is to continue working toward ensuring equality for every individual under the laws of our communities, our states and nation. And as is common, large-scale societal problems and challenges, such as racism and discrimination, also manifest in the workplace. hr-xpress

According to a recent Gallup poll, 45% of US workers experienced discrimination and/or harassment in the past year. And the US workforce is growing more diverse every year. The millennial and Gen Z generations, for example, are the most diverse in US history: of the roughly 87 million millennials in the country, only 56% are white compared with 72% of the nearly 76 million Baby Boomers.

With these evolving employment demographics, workers, more than ever, are proactively seeking workplaces that practice diversity and inclusion. According to Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers “consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities, and more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity.”

In addition, recent research shows companies that foster diversity and inclusion in multiple ways outperform, in revenue, those companies that are less diverse and inclusive.

So, how can companies and organizations move toward fostering more diverse, inclusive and tolerant workplaces? Here are several key steps to consider taking:

Establish a diversity policy: To make diversity a priority in your workplace, train your employees on diversity issues to understand the benefits of a diverse workplace. Also provide a uniform, consistent set of expectations for everyone in when it comes to supporting diversity and eliminating unacceptable racist and/or discriminatory behaviors.

Promote an open-door policy: Ensure an open-door policy is in place – whether in HR or with managers – for employees to make complaints related to alleged discrimination and harassment. Employers should work to protect the rights of employees to make legitimate complaints anytime.

Ensure compliance with applicable laws: Key US laws related to employment – such as the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act – provide substantive protections for (and prevention of) problems related to diversity and inclusion.

Create a respectful and dignified work environment: Company and organization leadership, across all levels, should work to treat everyone on staff – as well as customers, contractors and vendors – equally and with respect.

Ultimately, diversity in the workplace means having a team of employees with a range of different backgrounds in terms of race, age, gender and other characteristics. Having a diverse workforce, with all the strengths and skills each team member brings, is good for companies and organizations both internally and externally.

Yet, to be sure, fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion can be challenging and it takes time to build. It’s all about creating and maintaining a cooperative, productive work environment by respecting one another’s diverse backgrounds. This is one of the keys to optimizing employee performance and business growth in today’s economy.

impactAction: If you’re interested in learning more about diversity and inclusion programs for your workplace, contact us at info@impacthrllc.com or 443-741-3900.

MD Daily Record Publishes Kelly Mitchell’s Column on Mental Health

impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell has just published a column in the Maryland Daily Record on “Supporting employees’ mental health.”

In her column, Mitchell writes: “It may not be an overreach to suggest the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health to some degree.”

“All told, there are some steps employers and their managers can take to help their employees be resilient, maintain productivity and, most importantly, maintain a healthy balance in their work and personal lives,” she adds. Read more.

Ellicott City, MD Rotary Holds “Crab Feast To-Go” to Support Community Organizations, Oct. 3

If you live near or are in relatively close driving distance to the Howard County Fairgrounds, consider ordering crabs and much more with The Ellicott City Rotary Club‘s 73rd Annual Crab Feast and community fundraiser, Saturday, October 3.

This year’s event is being called the Howard County Community “Crab Feast To-Go” to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. After you order online, pick-up will be at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 1:00pm-6:00pm ET, October 3, 2020.

This year’s Feast includes: #1 Harris Seafood hot crabs steamed on-site; Bullhead’s Famous pit-beef sandwiches; Ghirardelli brownies; plus mallets and plenty of sheets of brown paper. (Or you can opt for ordering crabs only.)

All Rotary Crab Feast proceeds will benefit these Howard County services organizations: the Howard County Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Small Miracles Cat & Dog Rescue; Howard County Community College Center for Service Learning; Community Action Council of Howard County; Howard County Concert Odyssey; Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center; Howard County Neighbor Ride; Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center of Howard County; and Living In Recovery. Learn more.

Two New Maryland Regulations Go in Effect October 1, 2020

Effective October 1, 2020, the Maryland Economic Stabilization Act will require companies to provide written notice before conducting reductions in operations. This law applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

Under this new policy, a reduction in operations means either relocating part of an employer’s operation or laying off at least 15 employees or 25% of the workforce (whichever is greater) over a three-month period.

For example, an employer with 100 employees would need to provide appropriate notice only if laying off 25 or more employees, whereas an employer with 50 employees would need to provide notice if they were laying off 15 or more employees, but not if they were only laying off 14 (28%).

Notice must be provided to the following groups at least 60 days before a reduction in operations:

  • All employees at the workplace who are subject to the reduction
  • Each exclusive representative or bargaining agency that represents employees at the workplace subject to the reduction
  • The Maryland Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning’s dislocated worker unit
  • All elected officials in the jurisdiction where the workplace is located

In related Maryland policy news, beginning October 1, 2020, the state’s Equal Pay for Equal Work law will prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees who ask about their own wages. (This restriction previously only applied if employees asked about another employee’s wages.)

The law also now bans salary history inquiries of any kind, plus employers must provide job applicants with the wage range for the position they are applying for if they ask.

In response to these new regulations, employers should:

  • Work to remove any language related to pay secrecy from all HR-related written materials
  • Ensure managers understand the right to discuss compensation cannot be waived
  • Train company recruiters and job interviewers to avoid salary history questions and disregard any information volunteered by an interviewee
  • Delete requests for salary history on job application forms

impactAction: If you need assistance complying with these new regulations, contact us at info@impacthrllc.com or 443-741-3900.

In Case You Missed These impactnews Articles . . .

Federal Contractors: Staying in Compliance with HR policies

Unlocking the Mystery of How Much To Pay Your Employees

The Business Case for Crafting Effective Job Descriptions

Visit Our COVID-19 Resources Center

impactHR’s COVID-19 Resources Center aims to help employers and employees navigate the uncertain road ahead. This portal – and its information and links to key resources – is updated daily. Learn more.