Diversity in the Workplace
by Lynn DeJarnette
So what does diversity in the workplace mean?
Well, first you have to understand the term diversity. The term diversity includes an understanding and acceptance that everyone is different, they have different personal characteristics that make them unique. These characteristics may include race, ethnicity, gender, religion, political ideologies, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, or socioeconomic status. These characteristics also may include life experiences and cognitive approaches toward problem-solving.
Why is diversity in the workplace important?
According to Forbes, companies who are racially and ethnically diverse perform 35% better, are 87% better at decision making, and have a 1.4% increase in revenue over companies who are not.
An article by Ruth Mayhew lists several benefits for employees as well. In her article, she says that diversity fosters respect among employees and that “Whether employees work in groups or teams comprised of co-workers with varied work styles, disabilities or who represent different cultures or generations, a synergistic work environment becomes the norm.”
Mayhew also says that diversity in the workplace helps to empower the marginalized workforce. In other words, those that have been discriminated against due to race, age, or disability can now find good-paying jobs where they can use their talents.
Mayhew also stated in her article that workplace diversity helped with conflict resolution, enhancement of the business’s reputation, job promotion and development, and increased exposure to different kinds of people. All of which benefit the employee in so many ways.
So how do you create diversity? Here are 4 steps companies can use to get started.
According to Forbes, diversity in the workplace should be the standard. Companies who have a diverse workforce are more competitive because the “companies that are diverse are able to perform better because they are able to understand different perspectives, tap into different markets and make better decisions that accurately reflect the society we live in.”
- Develop Permanent Policy and Training Programs – Ashley McGirt, racial trauma, and mental health therapist, said “If you are already in a position of leadership create policies that promote an antiracist culture, address microaggressions, and discrimination in the workplace. Create a policy around racism just as there are policies in place to prevent sexual harassment. If you don’t have a plan to be anti-racist then you plan to be racist. If you are an employee and do not have the words to express yourself but have concerns about racial injustices in the workplace or the response your work is having to the racial injustices occurring in the world, you can reach out to HR and request that they bring in a trained professional to teach cultural competency and shed light on things such as racial trauma and microaggressions that occur in the workplace.”
- Expand Your Network – This probably sounds self-explanatory but companies tend to hire from the same schools, job fairs, etc. which can lead to hiring the same type of individuals thus hindering any attempts at diversity. Try seeking out new sources of possible candidates when looking to hire more employees.
- Create a Safe Place – Employees who express concerns over racism or diversity in the workplace should not have to worry about being fired, demoted, bullied, or otherwise mistreated. You could form a committee where employees can openly share their feelings and concerns with the goal of finding a way to address and fix any issues that arise.
- Be Held Accountable – This might be the most important step in the whole process. Employees need to hold their employers accountable and the employers need to hold themselves accountable by creating a plan for diversity and then sharing it publicly and internally with your employees. Then hit or miss keep the public and your employees up-to-date on the progress you’ve made.
Workplace diversity has benefits for the employee and the employer. It creates a better overall work environment and boosts the companies bottom line which in turn leads to higher wages and more opportunities for the employees.
In this day and age, we need to embrace our differences and learn from each other. Racism and discrimination need to be a thing of the past, and maybe if we start by having diversity in the workplace – then we can take what we have learned at work and use it in our everyday lives to really make racism and discrimination a thing of the past.
Climbing Out of The Racial Wealth Gap
By Ahmad Jenkins
As we are all watching history unfold surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd other African American men and women who needlessly lost their lives. I’m reminded they were doing nothing more than going about their day as any normal individual would. Now it seems more and more people are realizing just how much black lives do matter.
I’m excited, personally. African Americans have been voicing how much work there needs to be done to improve life for ourselves since before most of us reading this were born 😂. And while we are protesting and speaking out against injustice at the hands of militarized police departments, we must also keep at the forefront of our minds the deepening racial wealth gap that threatens African American families and communities across the nation.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was working in a fulltime retail position, and found it to be the most stressful 4 years I had ever endured at any given workplace. I had at that time put working on Writing Elite and freelance writing as a part-time thing in place of what I thought was a more stable income. During that time I slowly but surely began to realize that no matter how hard I worked, how much I wanted to advance. The color of my skin was always going to be a determining factor.
Now mind you, I wasn’t seeking some high position as manager (not that it’s that high a jump in retail work in begin with), or even make it into some corporate was attempting to move up from ground level to the next basic level of a trainer, buyer, or even supervisor. It had my anti-discrimination senses tingling, and like any good writer, I committed a lot of my time to research a lot about the subject, especially in terms of the industry I was working in at the time.
What I found was several former employees of the same company who felt the need to tell their story. So I thought in this post of “In the Workplace” I would share theirs alongside my own.
Voicing the Struggle
While these stories show just how African American men (and women) are treated in that particular industry. There is the deeper story of a wealth gap that extends even into the corporate workplace where African Americans are largely underrepresented and horribly underpaid. Just how large and persistent are these racial wealth gaps, you ask? To start, the median net worth for white households has far exceeded that of Black households through recessions and booms over the last thirty years. The result is the wealth of a white family ends up higher than a black family.
Bringing Life lessons to Life.
I’m sure the protests and all the continuous calls to remind people that black lives matter. That we ( African Americans) have the right to excel at life and more importantly live. To work and not be held down or kept back from our career goals.
At this time it’s too early to tell what the current protests will bring about for the black community and various communities of people of color. We’ve obviously got people’s attention as more platforms are asking to finally hear our voice, and begin to understand the pain we’ve been enduring for over 500 years of enslavement, social injustice, and systemic poverty that to this day we’re just now getting people to address with all of this with some seriousness.
As the mission of Writing Elite is to always inspire you, our dear readers, and your families to seek a deeper connection with reading. This is why we strive hard to find the best affordable reads many you’ll find here in the form of affiliate links from affiliate partners we carefully screen for you. We appreciate you our readers for your support, without you; Writing Elite wouldn’t be possible.
The Option of Life over Pay
by Lynn DeJarnette
As many of you may have already heard many states are beginning to force Americans back to work despite concerns many people’s lives will be put in jeopardy. While the federal government has laid down very specific guidelines for the reopening of states and then giving those states control over how best to proceed, the sad fact of the matter is many of the reopening plans of these states that are attempting to reopen, either partially or in whole have been questionable to be sure.
According to a Time.com article published May 1, 2020, Research conducted by historians and scientists at the University of Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used a comparative analysis of data from a number of American cities during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic that provided incontrovertible evidence of the effectiveness of the kind of restrictions we are living with today. Cities that imposed expansive closure orders early and maintained them for the duration of pandemic conditions suffered significantly lower death rates than those that did not.
The same Time article stated, “A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that while 58% of those interviewed feared the government would move too quickly in loosening restrictions, just 32% worried the government would move too slowly.” Most Americans understand we need to abide by what the medical professionals are telling us. We need our government officials to also listen carefully to the medical and public health experts – and to history. So that we don’t have a repeat of what happened with the flu pandemic.
COVID – 19 is changing the Working World.
by Ahmad Jenkins
The state of the economy is largely uncertain. There are various expectations as to how many jobs will be lost in the long run, which according to Goldman Sachs, for example, the forecast is expected to be around 2.5% over the first half of this year. While many companies are struggling to retain employees amongst an ongoing trend of layoffs, there are also larger companies pumping up their hiring in an effort to meet growing demand in their industries. Amazon, as you may have heard, recently announced it is hiring an additional 100,000 employees despite the previous threats of Amazon warehouse and whole foods market protests.
With an impending recession on the way, many Americans are scrambling for a way to make it through as best as they can. Some as we’ve mentioned in past posts take the step to start a business or freelance their skills as best they can, those who are still fortunate enough to work and save, do so along with building up their savings and budgeting better. There is one thing that is for certain. The way we work will definitely change, not just with workers themselves, but companies also are looking as to how they will run various aspects of their business. It can be assumed automation will be a big part of that change.
The Freelance Revolution
- The ability to control the flow of your career. You’re not subject to the approval of an all-powerful boss.
- More control over your income. It can be increased as much as your time, talents and determination will allow.
- You can diversify income sources in a way you can?t with a job.
- An opportunity to be creative. In most jobs, you’re hired to do a very specific set of tasks. If you’re self-employed, you can determine what you work on.
- You’ll have more control over your time. I work more being self-employed than I did when I was salaried. But I have more control over my time, so it blends better with my life.
- No waiting in line for the boss?s approval on time off.
- More personal expression. As a self-employed person, you can choose how you dress, the words you use (as opposed to political correctness), who you’ll do business with, and often where you work, as well as the hours you’ll keep.
- You can?t be forced into retirement. My experience is that most self-employed people don’t retire.
- The ability to redirect your business, into any direction you choose.
Many businesses can be sold for a cash windfall. In some cases, that can be your retirement.
- You can choose to work full-time or part-time with many businesses. It can often be blended with a full-time or part-time job.
Dealing with the Workplace ‘Bully’.
The question is what do you do in such an instance? How do you handle being yelled and cursed at, and what if the issue (God forbid) becomes worse; such as physical threats, and nonverbal forms of abuse in the workplace? My situation may not seem all that serious, I was simply yelled at, I assume for moving too slow or not doing my job in the way that person thought was correct.
Bullying: It’s no longer a problem just for High School.
Workplace bullying has been defined as repeated health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators. It now stands that the workplace is receiving increasing attention due to the extensive media coverage of children bullying each other in school. It appears bullying is no longer a thing of the past for many adults who encounter it almost every day in the workplace. Often times belittling, swearing, and intimidating employees may go overlook, or go unreported. This affects the company’s image, as well as increasing turnover rates and low employee morale which costs the company in the long run.
“It’ll get back to management!”, that was the reply of my coworker that yelled at me after he found out I complained to the other coworker that was a victim to his tantrums. To be honest, I personally don’t want it to come to that and have yet to mention it to my supervisor or any other member of management. It’s not that the person isn’t a good worker, or is completely a bad person. They just lack professional communication skills for the workplace.
I’ve always been a small person (skinny), and at times during middle school and High school, I ran into a few bullies. To even the odds, and out of personal interest, I started studying Taekwondo (and other martial arts) to learn self-defense, and increase my own self-esteem. Likewise, in instances where bullying in the workplace occurs, victims have to develop a form of self-defense to counteract the negative impact of workplace bullying.
• Address the situation. First, whether the bully is a fellow coworker or a manager, attempt to discuss the problem in a professional way. This does not mean launching a war of words or escalating the confrontation. Employees should explain that the situation is having a negative effect and they will notify a supervisor if it continues.
• Document the situation. When people are distressed, it can be easy to inflate a situation or just forget what exactly was said. Employees should document what has occurred and who has witnessed it.
• Reference the employee handbook. If the company handbook includes an internal grievance system, harassment policy, anti-violence policy, code of conduct or ethics hotline, employees should follow the procedures outlined in these policies.
• Talk with Human Resources. Employees should be encouraged to bring the problem to HR if the attempt to talk over the situation with the bully doesn’t help.
While victims of some form of workplace bullying — just like with the bullying that may have occurred in school — may not want to cause tension with other coworkers. They should feel empowered that bullying of any form doesn’t have to be tolerated. We aren’t children, but professional adults. Regardless of where you work, or what you do having a professional demeanor, and communication skills is an important aspect of the workplace.
Your Rights if You’re Scared to Return to Work Because of Covid-19
by Lynn DeJarnette
A worker wearing a protective mask stands behind a plastic shield in Woodstock, Georgia, U.S., on April 27, 2020, Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg-Getty Images
Many states and cities have expanded their worker protection laws during this pandemic. For example, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, issued an executive order in early April prohibiting companies from firing individuals who stay at home for certain coronavirus related reasons. And the Texas Workforce Commission said that Texans can receive unemployment if they don’t return to work for certain Covid-19 related reasons.
Ann-Marie Ahern, a labor and employment lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio, noted that there are some underlying federal laws that offer some protection to American workers who feel unsafe returning to work during this pandemic.
Can I be fired if I don’t return to work?
According to a Time.com article from May 6, 2020. most employees in the U.S. are “at-will” employees, meaning that their employer can fire them at any time for any reason that is not deemed illegal. Unfortunately, being nervous about the coronavirus likely won’t be enough to protect you legally if you decide not to return to work. But there are some federal laws that might.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act)
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) grants workers the right to refuse to work if they believe workplace conditions could cause them serious imminent harm, says Sean Crotty, a labor and employment lawyer in Detroit.
It might be hard to use the OHS Act, especially if your employer is practicing social distancing, is using PPE and following other guidelines laid down by the local government. However, if you have concrete proof that your workplace is unsafe because of Covid-19, then you can file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The OSH Act also includes an anti-retaliatory clause which means your employer can’t fire or demote you for filing the complaint and if he does you have 30 days to file a complaint about the retaliation with OSHA.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
If you and a co-worker feel your workplace is unsafe and you both decide not to go to work for that reason you are protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) as “being on strike for health and safety reasons”, says Ruben Garcia, a professor of labor and employment law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Law. You would be engaging in “concerted activity” and can’t be fired for that, however; your employer could hire someone to permanently replace you. If you are fired, you can go to the local National Labor Relations Board and file a charge against your employer.
Like with the OSH Act, your reason for feeling unsafe needs to be more concrete than just a general feeling of unsafety because of the coronavirus.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The recently-passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which was intended to prop up the U.S. economy, includes some new or expanded worker protections which will last through Dec. 31, 2020.
If you work for an employer with less than 500 employees, have Covid-19, Covid-19 symptoms or have been quarantined by a doctor or the government, you can take two full weeks of paid sick leave at full pay, subject to certain caps. You can also take this same leave at two-thirds pay if you are caring for someone who is under quarantine.
The FFCRA also includes 12 weeks of paid leave at two-thirds pay for individuals who can’t work because they are caring for children whose schools or daycares are closed due to the pandemic.
However, employers with 50 employees or less do not have to offer paid leave if they can prove it would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Individuals at greater risk from the coronavirus may be offered some protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to engage in an “interactive process” to try and provide reasonable accommodations for all employees with a disability who request one. The ADA defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” The Family Medical Leave Act – which the FFCRA expanded – also states that eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for a serious health condition that makes them unable to perform their job, or if they’re caring for a family member with a serious health condition. And while the ADA does not specifically list all impairments that qualify as a disability, many of the conditions that put an individual at a higher risk of contracting COVD-19, including diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and immunodeficiency, ”are almost always ‘disabilities’ under the law,” Ahern says.
In order to claim protection under the ADA, it is best to have a medical professional make a determination of your medical condition and then present that documentation along with your ADA request to your employer. The ADA also includes and an anti-retaliatory clause that prohibits your employer from retaliating against you.
The Bottom Line
“It is really important for people to understand all of their rights before making any employment law decisions, and to advocate for themselves in an informed manner,” Ahern says. Many of these laws are new, and “employees should not just assume that their employer knows or intends to comply with the law,” she says, adding: “Likewise, there are many circumstances that employees may face that may seem improper or irresponsible on the part of their employers, but may be very much legal.”