With social media, what you don’t know can seriously hurt your organization. One 2010 survey found that employees estimate spending roughly four hours every day checking multiple email accounts, with up to two hours spent on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. A 2012 Salary.com survey found that 64 percent of employees visit non-work related websites daily. And don’t think blocking employee access to social media on company networks is the answer; personal smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, and easily fill the gap.
The rub for today’s organizations is that while social media use at work has definite risks, it also is one of the best ways to empower and engage employees. Increasingly, in our connected 24/7 businesses, the line between work and personal time is blurring. This is especially true for Generation Y employees; as long as they meet deadlines and deliver, these employees don’t feel that it’s particularly useful to distinguish between time spent updating Twitter or engaged in team meetings. Organizations may beg to differ, especially when an offensive or inappropriate blog post or tweet can damage their brand, lower employee morale, and even lead to workplace lawsuits.
Yet, most organizations don’t really know how their employees are using social media, either personally or professionally, let alone what impact it’s having on employees’ overall levels of productivity.
That’s why it’s so important, before you set policy, to know how your managers currently handle social media use at work, as well as how its use by employees is effecting their management. Get at these fundamental issues by asking managers five key questions:
- Have your employees’ use of social media ever triggered a workplace lawsuit or regulatory investigation?
- What impact have your employees’ personal use of social media during work hours had, if any, on their productivity?
- How do you use social media, if at all, to help manage your projects and employees?
- Have you reviewed all applicable federal and state laws governing electronic data content, usage, monitoring, privacy, e-discovery, data encryption, business records and other legal issues in all jurisdictions in which you operate, have employees or serve customers?
- Could you comply with a court-ordered “social media audit”, by producing legally compliant business blog posts, email messages, text messages and other electronically stored information (ESI) within 990 days?
Social media can speed innovation and collaboration, but ONLY if your employees know how to both use it as well as steer clear of its many pitfalls. Start by asking managers these simple questions; they often surface extremely important information that, especially in larger organizations, you may not have been aware of. Finally, remember that for reasons of both confidentiality and fear, getting access to this sort of information is not always easy. It’s therefore important that organizations create mechanisms by which examples of social media use (and abuse!) can be regularly shared with the broader employee base.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Steve Miranda is Managing Director of Cornell University’s Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies (CAHRS), a leading partnership between industry and academia devoted to the field of global human resource management. He is also a faculty author of the new eCornell certificate program,Social Media in HR: From Policy to Practice. Prior to CAHRS, Miranda was Chief Human Resource and Strategic Planning Officer for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest professional HR association, serving over 260,000 members in over 100 countries.
Being a stay at home mom has its perks – you don’t have to get dressed up, you can work out on your own schedule, and you don’t need to have the children’s lunch ready at 7 a.m. However, the most amazing and obvious benefit of being a stay at home mom is the opportunity to intimately know your children and to share all of the milestones of their young lives. No one can truly understand and love a child like their parent. Choosing to stay at home had its financial and career limiting consequences, but it’s a choice that I will never regret.
Being a stay at home mom however does not mean that you must put your brain or skills on hold. Especially in today’s modern world where there are countless ways for you to expand your horizons. And that’s exactly what I did. After driving many, many miles to practices, games, lessons and recitals, making sure that the homework was done and dinner was prepared, I spent countless late nights looking on the computer for ideas to sharpen my skills, and technology is what I came to love.
I am a problem solver. I love when I am given a challenge; know how to fix it, and how to fix it better. It started with setting up my own home wifi network. To most of my friends and co-workers, it’s probably no big deal, but in the stay at home mom arena – I was “big stuff”. Everyone wanted to know, “ how did I know how to do that?” Before I knew it, I was helping my neighbor, her friend, and then their elderly parents. And so began my journey, I became even more motivated to challenge myself. From school sports teams to the theatre department, the needs, as well as the expertise grew. I taught myself HTML, CSS, and how to create a Joomla site.
With each growing project a new skill such as Photoshop and Gimp emerged. I began to get noticed and was offered a position by my local principal in the Career Tech Department. The launching pad was perfect, it allowed me to further develop my skills and opened my eyes to the world of other opportunities out there. With my newly minted resume, an opportunity presented itself. The Global HR consulting firm, Exaserv, was looking for a Product Manager and the job description fit me perfectly. Some of the main requirements were organizational skills and the ability to prioritize, and all those years of being a stay at home mom had definitely helped to hone those skills. Not to mention my developed computer expertise!
It’s been over a year now since I’ve been back in the workforce and I have loved every day of employment. I am constantly learning and growing in my new role and enjoy all the “doors” that are opening for me. Staying at home to raise my children was the best decision I ever made, but taking that time to also sharpen my skills has given me the opportunity to go back to work and grow my career. It’s an experience for which I will forever be grateful.
About the author: Sophia Lidback is Product Manager at Exaserv, where her responsibilities include managing product development, writing and editing technical and functional user manuals and managing customer relations with respect to product implementation. Sophia is a wife and mother of 4.
Over the years I’ve had a handful of people reach out to me to find out what my thoughts are on workplace flexibility–namely, for men. Many people still seem to be stuck in the thought process that women need flexibility for work and family time, but men don’t.
And that sucks.
I have a wonderful wife and twin girls running around at home. My wife works full time as a teacher, and if she ever has to be off work it takes several hours of advance planning and preparation for a substitute. Guess who has the “easy” job when it comes to flexibility? Yeah, I drew that straw.
The great part is that I work for a wonderful company. The not-so-great part is that as the resident HR pro, I have to be vigilant about fighting off the insidious mediocrity that lurks around the corner. A manager starts talking about “core work hours?” I coach them in the other direction. Another leader starts talking about eliminating the ability to work from home? I discuss the retention of key people due to our flexibility in the past.
99% of the time these discussions aren’t difficult or malicious, and in every instance thus far I’ve been able to guide the manager back to the reason we offer these accommodations to our staff in the first place. We want to be different. We want to focus on our people. We want our people to trust us so that we, in turn, can trust them with our customers.
Whenever my focus starts to slip, I think back to the day when the girls were born. We had been expecting it for a few months, obviously, and I went in to tell my manager that I needed a week off to help with the girls. The look of disgust on her face has never left my mind even after several years.
That’s why I fight for our people.
That’s why I fight for flexibility.
That’s my battle cry. What’s yours?
About the Author: Ben Eubanks is an HR professional, author, and speaker from Huntsville, AL. During the day he works as an HR Manager for Pinnacle Solutions, an award-winning defense contractor. After work hours, he writes at upstartHR, an HR blog focusing on leadership, passion, and culture.
Do women think and behave differently than men when making ethical decisions? Are we really the exemplars of good decisions and good deeds when we occupy leadership positions?
Women aren’t ethical simply because they are female. Carol Gilligan, psychologist, asserts that women do operate with a unique ethical perspective because of cultural conditioning. She states that men are more concerned with issues of rules and justice, while women focus more on caring relationships and are less likely to judge others. Such concern does not in itself lead to ethical (wise) decisions. The practice of ethics takes a lifetime of learning and we are only as good at it as our history indicates. Those striving to be ethical start over every day, hoping to do it right.
Both genders share some common misconceptions about how to activate ethics in the workplace. Whether a decision is ethical or not is not defined by expressed beliefs or a values statement, but by behavior—what is actually said and done—and its impact on others. Women should prepare to maintain an ethical perspective backed by actions once in the midst of corporate demands. Understand that “good people” can do the wrong thing. One slips down an ethical slope one small step at a time. Understanding the laws of behavior make that slip less likely. Here are a few practical steps to help you maintain your balance:
Step 1: Learn about behavior.
Once you begin to see ethical behavior as a function of the consequences that have surrounded that pattern over many years, you see how much you can do to help a person learn new ways to demonstrate values. To increase ethical behavior, don’t look to what people say they do, rather, look at what they do and the impact of their behavior. Learn how to pinpoint, measure, and reinforce the patterns that count.
Step 2: Make open dialogue possible.
As women, we tend to think that we are great listeners and conversationalists. But we, too, may be guilty of closing the door on dialogue when we’re in charge. To sustain ethical patterns of behavior at work, telling the truth is essential for all employees. Therefore, leaders at all levels must understand their role in promoting, not punishing, truth telling. That is where ethical leadership does the most good—you must always be ready to influence the ethical conditions, or lack, in your workplace. The freedom to discuss issues without negative repercussions is a sign of an ethical workplace.
Step 3: Live the example.
The workplace is not a democracy, but a venue in which some are reported to and others report. This hierarchal structure can create situations in which those in charge forgo common courtesies. If it is unacceptable for your employees to slam doors, yell, or make derisive remarks, then don’t do so yourself. When you use negative techniques to get what you want, employees are afraid to tell the truth about things that matter. Such aversive tactics are doubly unethical when you are in a position to control the consequences for another person.
Step 4: Be accountable.
Currently, there are now more discussions of caps for executive compensation—a pay for performance notion. Imposed regulations will escalate if individuals don’t stand up for reason and fairness on this issue. Watch the perks of the office. Be alert to who got you there and take care in how you exercise your ‘rights’. Male or female, we learn to justify inequities that are in our favor one step at a time. If you ask your employees to make sacrifices, make those sacrifices yourself; that may not be the rule, but it is the ethical choice.
Step 5: Reward yourself and others.
Employees need to know what you value. People aren’t all alike and don’t want the same types of recognition. Some people love public hoopla; others hate it and might just appreciate a sincere thank you. Find out the differences and let people know what is important to you as well.
Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Make decisions seeking a balance between the rights of others, justice, the common good and self-interest.
Gilligan concluded that women are not inferior (or superior) in their moral development, but different, because we focus on connections with others and lean toward exercising an “ethic of care” over an ethic of mere justice. It is this unique difference that we should use and integrate into our workplace interactions.
About the author: As internationally known consultant and president and chief executive officer of Aubrey Daniels International, Darnell Lattal designs and implements behavior-based business strategies to achieve core initiatives. In partnership with her clients, Darnell has expertly contributed to organizational redesign and change management and other core business processes. Darnell has authored several books.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
If your boss has just passed on you for a promotion, or your manager or employer keeps you under a constant fear of being fired, it’s time to evaluate yourself, and bring significant change in your job attitude. You might be hitting some career obstacles that have been preventing you from climbing the ladder of success.
Even highly skilled and hardworking ladies face these kinds of career hitches time and again. Why? Because women suffer from some visceral averseness that hamper their career growth in many ways.
Here are my tips that may help you improve your work efficiency and let you experience exponential growth at your workplace.
Never avoid taking on new things
Usually, women prefer to remain in their comfort zone. But, this attitude might bring damage to their job. So, until and unless you’re doing a highly specialized job, you should not avoid or show lack of interest for new assignments. Working in a different domain brings you an opportunity to enhance your job skills. The learning of new skills makes you marketable while help increasing your job efficiency. Plus, your enthusiasm for new tasks will also increase your professional worth before your employer, which, in turn, result in an upgraded evaluation report for you.
Practice to communicate effectively
Professional success is directly proportional to the effective communication. If your job calls have declined, or your clients and co-workers now do not care of what you’re saying, your career is in serious trouble! You are going through a communication obstacle. Professionalism requires communication that must be concise and polite to be effective on people. To learn better communication skills for workplace, you can go through the book “Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage, and Influence” written by Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann. From leaders of countries to leaders of companies to people just starting out in their career, Becker and Wortmann teach techniques that start with the essential wisdom of Aristotle and include the best practices in today’s global organizations.
Don’t afraid to ask questions or hesitate to ask for help
It’s always comforting when you know what you have to do on the job. If you don’t have queries about your work or what’s current in your job, you’re definitely out of your career track. This is a sign of lacking erudition, indicating you’re no longer acquiring new job skills. Yes, you’re missing out on productive career opportunities.
No matter what your position in your company, there always come times when you need to seek help from other knowledgeable colleague/persons. There’s no individual on this earth who has all the answers. It’s always better to ask some well-informed professionals than to attempt to bluff or formulate answers with trifling base, which makes nothing but fool out of you. Sooner or later, asking for help will actually contribute greatly in your career growth as this will reflect your dedication to problem solving as well as your influential communication skills.
Remain updated with ‘what’s new’ in your profession
Having knowledge of what is going on in your field not only works for knowledgeable conversation, but also allows you to reap from the new development and opportunities in your industry for your personal career growth.
Invest in yourself
Although looking good is the part and parcel of professionalism, that isn’t all you need for your well-groomed professional appearance. For your impressive professional image, your appearance must be supported by your attitude and your skills. So, invest on your own knowledge base and be confident and articulate. Even if you’re looking for a new position, you’ll have to have enough career resources so that you and your skills would be welcomed by a new organization with open arms.
Last but not the least, be positive and take action. Women tend to be hyper sensitive to personality conflicts, as well as to gender-role stereotypes. To overcome this adverseness, they need to work with calming voice for conflict resolution. Stop asking yourself off-putting questions like ‘Why me?’ and ‘What if?’ Rather, focus on affirmative questions like, “What can I learn from this incident?” and “How can I exploit this event?’ Then, proceed to take action. Instead of self-pitying, get involved in the soul-searching that begins with a positive attitude, and that will help propel you forward.
Proceed to grow exponentially!
About the author: Gloria Tesch is a passionate blogger and Internet marketer who loves to impart her knowledge and ideas on various topics with others. She works as an SEO professional for Printsasia.com, an online bookstore. She is also an avid reader and, therefore, suggests some good and economical books through her blog or article.
Personal development is incredibly important for both employees and employers, yet few take it as seriously as they should. However, by making personal development a part of your office culture, you can create a company staffed with a well-trained, knowledgeable workforce eager to further their career with you. To help you increase your employees’ interest in personal development, consider the following:
One of the best ways for you to get employees interest in training or making personal development a part of your company culture is by taking your own personal development seriously. Attend trainings yourself, and be actively involved in finding your own development events and helping those around you find trainings beneficial to them. Another great way is by acknowledging that others are taking their personal development seriously. Thank employees for attending trainings or point out their accomplishment during the next staff meeting.
While it may seem like a no-brainer, many employers and managers actually overlook marketing their own training opportunities. Don’t just post a flyer on the community board briefly listing any training opportunities. Be sure to send out emails, let employees know about such opportunities during meetings, and also be sure to pull employees aside that you believe would most benefit from such trainings and give them a heads up. The more aware employees are of the trainings available to them, they more inclined they will be to attend them.
Cross-trainings are not only good for your employees, but they are good for your business too. When you have employees that can competently perform other jobs within your business, it makes promoting from within easier, and also makes the need to temp staff during an absence unnecessary. Offer opportunities for cross-trainings in both inter- and intra-department settings so that employees truly feel like they have the ability to move both laterally and upwards in your company.
Keep Opportunities Available
Trainings don’t have to only be off-site or on the employee’s personal time. Remember that while the training may be benefiting your employees professionally, in doing so it is also benefitting the productivity of your company. So provide learning opportunities throughout the office and do so on a regular basis. Create a multimedia library with relevant CDs, DVDs, and workbooks; offer in-office trainings that employees can attend on company time; and bring in guest speakers during lunch hours that employees can glean information from. The more accessible training is the more inclined your employees with be to take advantage of it.
Take Development Seriously
Many employees don’t take advantage of personal development because they often don’t know where to begin. To help employees focus on their strengths and weaknesses and how they can improve upon them, turn regular reviews into development sessions. Don’t just tell them where they can improve. Ask employees to pick out areas in which they would like to improve, and then coach them how to get there. Become a mentor to your employees or find another employee that would be better suited to do so. Also be sure to set timelines together so that employees understand that you take their development seriously.
If you want a motivated and loyal workforce, you need to make it obvious that you are interested and invested in their personal development. Provide them with frequent and adequate opportunities, demonstrate your own eagerness to improve yourself, and offer extra support where needed. Most people are eager to better themselves, especially professionally, but often get overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. Take the time to develop your staff, and they will be more inclined to work harder and longer for you – which will ultimately, make your company more profitable. It’s a win-win for everyone.
About the author: Amanda Andrade, SPHR, CCP, GRP is the Chief People Officer for Veterans United Home Loans – Fortune magazine’s 21st best medium workplace and one the fastest growing companies in the United States according to INC magazine. Amanda has led human resource organizations in both public and private sectors, serving employees in diverse work settings, focusing on environment and behavior in the workplace. Connect with Amanda on Google+.
Photo credit: iStockPhoto
In February, the New York Times published a feature on why gender equality stalled, drawing attention once again to the fact that despite this being the 21st century, men and women still aren’t equal in the workplace.
We know that in the US, women are paid 77 cents for every man’s dollar and that only 4.2 per cent of Fortune 500 CEO positions are held by women – and this situation is replicated across the globe. So what’s stopping women getting a fair deal? And why don’t we speak out about it more?
Here’s a thought. I read yesterday about pop star Katy Perry who, upon receiving her Billboard award in December 2012, announced, “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women.” Perhaps this is part of the problem. Many people today still regard the term ‘feminist’ as something derogatory. And Katy shows that women are in many ways the worst culprits for perpetuating this myth.
When did feminism mean anything other than getting a fair deal for women? It reminded me of this excerpt from journalist Caitlin Moran’s book, How to be a Woman:
When statistics come in saying that only 29 per cent of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42 per cent of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good sh*t GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF SURVEY?
It’s as if we’ve taken a step backwards. The word ‘feminist’ that once was short-hand for liberation, doing the right thing and creating a more equal society is now more generally associated with men-hating, making excuses and whining.
Another alarming fact is the increasing ‘lack of ambition’ in our young women. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, quotes some surprising statistics in her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. For example, in a survey of 4,000 employees at big companies, 36% of men said they want to be CEO but only 18% of women said the same. Just think of the creativity, emotional intelligence and ultimate productivity that the global economy is missing out on if this continues.
At this point, I feel it’s appropriate to take some advice from an incredibly self-aware 16 year-old called Tavi Gevinson who says in her inspiring TED talk:
One thing that can be very alienating about a misconception of feminism is that girls then think that to be feminists they have to live up to being perfectly consistent in their beliefs, never being insecure, never having doubts, having all the answers…and this is not true and actually recognizing all the contradictions I was feeling became easier once I realized that feminism was not a rulebook but a discussion, a conversation, a process.
So my final thought is that we should reclaim the word ‘feminist’ not in an aggressive way, but in a conscious way. As women, aspiring to be the CEO doesn’t mean we have to be perfect or ruthless. It’s as simple as believing we can get there and working really hard. So let’s reclaim the essence of feminism at work, start shouting a bit louder about inequality and change some of the appalling statistics about unequal pay and promotion we keep reading about.
About the author: Sue Stoneman is CEO and founding partner of learning and development agency, NKD Learning. She is a change management, employee engagement and learning and development expert. Prior to setting up NKD Learning in 2005, Stoneman spent over 20 years in a variety of PLC and private equity businesses, including British Airways, Hyundai, Barclays and Terrafirma. She has a breadth of experience as a board director, having held senior positions in Marketing and Sales, Customer Operations and HR.
As women in business, we’re accustomed to seizing opportunities when they present themselves. One opportunity that is consistently under-utilized and undervalued is competitive synergy, working with your competition instead of against them. In today’s economy, if you want to succeed, you may have to put to rest that old “them or me” spirit and view your competitors not as enemies but as potential allies.
Think about it: five fingers alone don’t cause much damage in a fight but when you bring them together to form a fist, well, you can pack a pretty mean punch. Now imagine those fingers are five women on their own in the business arena and consider how much damage they could do if they came together.
That is the essence of competitive synergy: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By working together, you and your “competition” can both be more successful and gain that market edge that neither one of you seem to be able to reach on your own. By communicating with those around you, you can turn a potential negative into a positive and start working smarter, not harder.
Onward and Upward
It’s no secret that one of the driving forces behind striking out on your own in the business world is to be your own boss. You want to be in charge of your schedule and in control of your own success. A great benefit to partnering with other like-minded business women is that you can maintain your autonomy while drawing from each other’s strengths. You can work with each other instead of working for each other. And those are always the best partnerships – ones where both members are on equal footing.
Even though you are on the same level, you both have something unique to bring to the table. Start by reaching out to those in your “circle.” Identify those professionals, both women and men, who offer the same or related goods or services as you. For example, if you are a wedding planner, your circle consists of other wedding planners, as well as caterers, florists, musicians, bridal shop owners, party suppliers, hotel and restaurant managers, etc. Pay them a visit and introduce yourself, leave some business cards and take some of theirs. Ask them to hand yours out and offer to do the same.
Chances are they will be receptive to you because they recognize that by teaming up, they extend their reach into your resources and now have access to your customers and clients that they might not have had otherwise.
To the Victor Goes the Spoils…and so much more
One of the keys to a successful business endeavor is minimizing risk and maximizing returns. If you combine the time, energy, effort, expertise, and finances of others, think of how much more you can accomplish than on your resources alone. By joining forces with those in your circle, you not only share the glory when your efforts succeed, but you also share the losses, the upfront costs, and the responsibility.
For example, one way to engage your new alliance might be to offer your brides (in keeping with the wedding planner example above) a package deal. Go in with a caterer, a photographer, a bakery and an entertainment company and promote yourselves as a “one-stop shop” for brides. Each of you can market the deal separately, and divide the costs for a large radio or television spot, and you have now reached five distinct pools where you would have only hit one before.
Alternatively, you could co-host a party or co-sponsor a benefit with your new ally. Divide duties and costs between yourselves and each of you can invite your respective rolodexes. The end result is a great time and new connections for all, with each of you only bearing half of the brunt.
It’s a Win-Win for Everyone
Not only will you increase the bottom line for both of your businesses by what you save, but you will also increase your professional goodwill in your community for what you give. For example, if you are not so fixated on how to beat your competition, you can focus more on customer service. This includes the security to send your patrons down the street to your new partner when she can better meet their needs. Not only will your customers thank you for saving them time, but they will also appreciate your integrity and are more likely to return to you in the future and direct others your way. Moreover, your new business buddy will pay it forward when she can send her people your way. Everybody wins.
What are some of the ways you have teamed up with would-be competitors? How else do you see partnering up with others in your field as a good thing?
About the author: Erin Schwartz is the marketing and social media manager at 123Print.com. 123Print is a leading provider of a high variety of quality items for small businesses like custom business cards, address labels, and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
The glass ceiling is a very real challenge that many professional women face at some point in their careers. Long described as an invisible cap on women’s earning potential in the workforce, it’s been a headline-making topic since the mid-50s – and for good reason. With the current shift in HR toward objective, automated assessments, the gender-based playing field may really start to level out.
Despite high-powered women taking on major executive roles – Marissa Mayer of Yahoo!, Meg Whitman of HP, Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup – roughly 97% of publicly traded US firms are still run by male CEOs. Does this mean that men are naturally better cut out for executive leadership? Not at all. But it does indicate that men have the upper hand.
There is currently a major shift taking place in HR that may very well move our hiring process away from such male-preferential hiring, as well as from other prejudices. While in the past HR has been heavily reliant on conventional wisdom, gut feeling and personal references, recruiters and hiring managers are now interjecting behavioral science and job-relevant benchmarks into their assessment processes. Not only does this improve the efficiency of their hiring, but it also allows them to more accurately assess candidates’ competencies and overall job fit in an objective manner.
What’s more, automated assessments generate candidate reports in a way that cannot be manipulated. In other words, hiring managers end up with validated hard data on each candidate’s potential rather than mere notes compiled from a recruiters chicken scratch on multicolored Post It Notes. Information gathered through the latter method is much easier to undermine or ignore, especially for bias-motivated reasons.
Let’s consider a more explicit example of how this change can and will help break down a significant hurdle for women in the workforce.
Ten years ago when Susan applied for a position, she submitted her resume to a highly subjective resume scanning process. Recruiters would often peruse the document for a mere 10-60 seconds before making a judgment call. Naturally, many of the keywords and qualifiers that the recruiter was using offered little in the way of job-relevance. Likewise, this sort of system left the door wide open for bias at the very top of the hiring funnel. In other words, Susan, who was often a potential top performer for the jobs she applied for, would be nixed before she was really ever even in the running – and for subjective or unsubstantiated reasoning.
While automated assessments are unable to completely eliminate gender-based bias in the hiring process, they can significantly mitigate its impact. When a female candidate like Susan comes to the table with a strong job fit and high quality references, and a hiring manager is shown hard data to prove it, it will be that much harder to simply discredit her potential because of her sex.
About the Author: Greg Moran is the President and CEO of Chequed.com, an Employee Selection and Automated Reference Checking technology suite as well as a respected author on Human Capital Management with published works including Hire, Fire & The Walking Dead and Building the Talent Edge. Greg can be found blogging at disrupthr.com or on Twitter as @CEOofChequed.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
As a woman in HR, gender pay equality is a topic that fascinates me.
George Fox University sociology professor, and researcher, Melanie Hulbert, was gracious enough to allow me to interview her about the subject. With Melanie Hulbert’s interview and my subsequent research, the connection between paid parental leave, and closing the gender pay gap, became extremely clear to me as well as the need for US culture to shift the idea that parental responsibilities automatically fall on the mother.
Through paid paternity leave and the equal distribution of parental duties between genders, pay equality can be better achieved. While the culture of management is ultimately responsible, HR professionals can help by championing for better parental benefits on behalf of women and all new parents in the workplace.
According to the report, Paid Leave in the States, the US is one of four countries in the world that have no federal law requiring paid time off for new parents. Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland are the other three.
Hulbert discussed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the lone exception to the lack of US paternity leave laws. The FMLA mandated that companies with over fifty employees, were required to provide twelve weeks of unpaid leave to those who need time to take care of a family member. The act was a step forward, but still a failure in the sense that it doesn’t include companies with less than fifty employees and the leave provided isn’t paid.
A 2011 report by Janet Walsh, deputy director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, “Failing its Families,“ reports that while over fifty nations guarantee paid leave for dads, a mere estimated 10% of non-government workers have paid parental leave in the US.
Hulbert commended countries with paternity leave rights that extend to men as well. When asked about countries leading the way in gender pay equality, Hulbert points to Scandinavia. “You cannot help but look to Scandinavian countries. Sweden and Norway are the trendsetters when it comes to gender equality, in multiple realms,” Hulbert said. “Not just in the workplace, but in politics, religion and other major institutions,” she explained.
Sweden’s paternity-leave policy, instituted in 1974, is one of the best in the world. In Sweden, the government will pay new parents a maximum of 80% of their salary up to approximately $65,000, for thirteen months. Both parents are legally required to contribute, with fathers (or mothers, depending) required to take at least two of those months. As a result, government statistics indicate that almost all Swedish fathers take off the minimum two months, at least. That said, Sweden still has a long way to go, with women still earning less than men, and women taking 76% of the parental leave according to Statistics Sweden (SCB) in 2011.
It appears that in order for gender pay equity to move forward, we must not only be more flexible and accommodating to new parents, but change the cultural narrative that the responsibility of parenting is mostly the mothers. Researchers such as Hulbert and Walsh point to government mandated maternity leave as a step towards gender pay equality.
Pay equality should be a priority for women in HR, and one way to help aid the process is including better paternity leave in the HR discussion about employee benefits.
About the author: Emily Manke is an Outreach Coordinator and blogger for Online Human Resources. She frequently contributes to OHR’s HR blog. Her interests include, writing, HR, gender equality, workplace diversity, social recruiting, music, and being outdoors. You can find her on Twitter at @HRDegrees or on LinkedIn. Emily resides in Portland, Oregon with her boyfriend of five years, and her half Red-Heeler, half Pit-Bull Spud.
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