Tag: rights

{Feminism} On My Soapbox

Posted on February 20th, by Shauna Moerke in On My Mind. No Comments

Look, I don’t often get political on blogs. My views are my views and unless they intersect with HR, I don’t typically put them out there. Despite loving a good debate, and by good I mean respectful and not shouting matches, I don’t like getting up on soapboxes because I have terrible balance and will likely hurt myself and others - metaphorically and literally.

But if you read this blog, I’m sure you’d understand why articles like this, To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal’ just drive me batty. Let me lay it out there - I consider myself a feminist (Oh god, hide your children!).

I know that a lot of people seem to treat “feminist” like this horrible, dirty word. Vocal extremes on both sides of the argument aside, I don’t think at its heart that feminism is about forcing women out of the home, destroying families, and hating on men. That stuff ultimately is just a distraction from some serious and legitimate concerns that impact everyone in society, not just women.

Feminism has impacted:

  • Women’s right to vote
  • Women’s right to decide who and when to marry (if ever)
  • Women’s access to education
  • Women’s access to better health services, and yes, that includes contraception and abortion
  • Women’s rights and options in the work place to include career choice, protections from harassment, equal pay, promotions, training, management, etc.
  • Better protection and recognition under the law (e..g rape, abuse, right to own a business and property)
  • Women’s ability to serve in the military and now (yay!) fight in combat.

And that’s just what I could name of the top of my head.

That list isn’t about taking away anything or forcing women to do or be something that they don’t want to. That list is about choices. That list is about freedom. That list is about giving women the same rights, access, responsibility, and yes, equality under the law. It’s about giving our daughters opportunities we never had, whether they chose to take advantage of them or not.

Is it perfect? No. Will it ever be? No. But it’s something to work towards and there is a lot still left to be done, Gay rights for one, but laws don’t change people’s hearts and minds. That only happens through societal change. Everyday people, including feminists, are the ones who have gotten us to the point we are at today.

Society is facing a lot of challenges right now and it is going through some major upheaval. But no, that’s not a bad thing either. Why? Because I don’t understand how someone can look at the state and status of women in this country or across the world and think that Feminism, of all things, is what is wrong with our world today. I think it’s long past the point that we need some societal upheaval.

But the most ironic aspect of that article espousing that men and women are not, and should not, be treated equally is that if not for feminists and societal change she would have never been allowed to write that article, much less be a published author in her own right. I’d think that at least she would have to agree that is a good thing.

About the author: Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR, is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show, and blogs at her own site as the HR Minion.


{Women of HR Unwrapped} I am Woman. See Me Work

Posted on December 18th, by Robin Schooling in Business and Workplace. Comments Off

We are unwrapping some posts from the Women of HR archives for you this holiday season. Relax, enjoy and let us know if there is a favorite of yours you'd like to see unwrapped and run again.

Several weeks ago I sat next to a very nice older couple on a plane.  I estimated their ages at as close to 80 which means they were probably born at some time in the 1930s and came of age in the 1950s.

In between watching Law and Order: SVU episodes on the airplane TV service, I was scribbling some notes on a legal pad as I reviewed some work materials I had brought along with me. This prompted the Mrs. to open up a fresh line of chit chat with me, as she, with a wide-eyed look on her face inquired,

“Do you work outside the home?”

I have to admit…I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question in my life.  Nor, quite frankly, did it ever occur to me that anyone would think it even was a question to be phrased that way.  I’ve heard “what do you do?” or “where do you work?” but I don’t think I’ve ever been asked if I worked.  And needless to say, explaining to this lovely woman precisely what Human Resources professionals do presented somewhat of a challenge.

But the conversation got me thinking about the varying perspectives we have of women in the workforce; viewpoints that are often glimpsed through a cultural or historical lens.  It’s quite probable that a young woman coming of age in the post WWII era was content (perhaps) with her life and resigned to the fact that her role was to work ‘at home.’  A woman reaching the voting age in the 1950’s was but one generation removed from even having the right to vote.  Thanks to the feminist movement, the Mrs. was able to head to the polling place and pull a lever to show that she did, indeed, “Like Ike.”

But it’s possible she doesn’t want to acknowledge or express any gratitude to feminists; that’s somewhat common. Whether first wave (primarily focused on suffrage and reproductive issues), second wave (primarily focused on equality) or third-wave (challenging and redefining ‘feminism’), feminists have often made men and women uncomfortable even while pushing for societal change that forever changed the lives of women:

  • In 1848, the first women's rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. At the end of the convention, some radical resolutions were adopted – shockingly calling for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.
  • In 1870, for the first time, the US Census counted “females engaged in each occupation.”  At that time, women comprised 15% of the workforce.
  • In 1920, the US Department of Labor formed “The Women's Bureau” which was tasked with collecting information about women in the workforce and ensuring safe working conditions.  Later that year, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was signed into law, granting women the right to vote.
  • Between the 1930s and 1950s, a number of business and school districts enacted “marriage bars” which allowed them to fire single women when they married and also allowed them to refuse to hire married women.
  • In 1961, President Kennedy established the President's Commission on the Status of Women and in 1963 the Commission issued a report documenting substantial discrimination against women in the workplace.  Specific recommendations were issued by the Commission including instituting fair hiring practices, offering paid
    maternity leave, and ensuring access to affordable child care.
  • In 1968, the US Supreme Court ruled that sex-segregated help wanted ads in newspapers were illegal.

I’ve thought of this conversation quite a bit lately.  It’s entirely possible that this couple have no children or grandchildren. For surely if they do have grandchildren they've found that many (dare I say most?) young women fully intend to continue their post high-school education and work outside the home.  While there are some people who yearn for a return to a society with strictly-defined gender rules based on religious reasons, I find it hard to believe that the majority of westerners don’t appreciate how the role of women has changed.

I, for one, tip my hat and raise my glass high to salute Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan and all the other brave women who paved the way.

Now let me get back to work.

About the author: Robin Schooling likes gadgets, coffee, wine and football and insists upon surrounding herself with people who are curious and have a desire to try new things.  After 20 plus years in HR, she is fully aware that HR is fun, frustrating, rewarding, maddening and important … and she loves most-every minute of it.  You can keep up with Robin at her blog HRSchoolhouse.com and on the Twitter at @RobinSchooling.

Photo credit iStockphoto

zp8497586rq

I am Woman, See Me Work

Posted on January 11th, by Robin Schooling in Business and Workplace. 9 comments

Several weeks ago I sat next to a very nice older couple on a plane.  I estimated their ages at as close to 80 which means they were probably born at some time in the 1930s and came of age in the 1950s.

In between watching Law and Order: SVU episodes on the airplane TV service, I was scribbling some notes on a legal pad as I reviewed some work materials I had brought along with me. This prompted the Mrs. to open up a fresh line of chit chat with me, as she, with a wide-eyed look on her face inquired,

“Do you work outside the home?”

I have to admit…I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question in my life.  Nor, quite frankly, did it ever occur to me that anyone would think it even was a question to be phrased that way.  I’ve heard “what do you do?” or “where do you work?” but I don’t think I’ve ever been asked if I worked.  And needless to say, explaining to this lovely woman precisely what Human Resources professionals do presented somewhat of a challenge.

But the conversation got me thinking about the varying perspectives we have of women in the workforce; viewpoints that are often glimpsed through a cultural or historical lens.  It’s quite probable that a young woman coming of age in the post WWII era was content (perhaps) with her life and resigned to the fact that her role was to work ‘at home.’  A woman reaching the voting age in the 1950’s was but one generation removed from even having the right to vote.  Thanks to the feminist movement, the Mrs. was able to head to the polling place and pull a lever to show that she did, indeed, “Like Ike.”

But it’s possible she doesn’t want to acknowledge or express any gratitude to feminists; that’s somewhat common. Whether first wave (primarily focused on suffrage and reproductive issues), second wave (primarily focused on equality) or third-wave (challenging and redefining ‘feminism’), feminists have often made men and women uncomfortable even while pushing for societal change that forever changed the lives of women:

  • In 1848, the first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. At the end of the convention, some radical resolutions were adopted – shockingly calling for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.
  • In 1870, for the first time, the US Census counted “females engaged in each occupation.”  At that time, women comprised 15% of the workforce.
  • In 1920, the US Department of Labor formed “The Women’s Bureau” which was tasked with collecting information about women in the workforce and ensuring safe working conditions.  Later that year, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was signed into law, granting women the right to vote.
  • Between the 1930s and 1950s, a number of business and school districts enacted “marriage bars” which allowed them to fire single women when they married and also allowed them to refuse to hire married women.
  • In 1961, President Kennedy established the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and in 1963 the Commission issued a report documenting substantial discrimination against women in the workplace.  Specific recommendations were issued by the Commission including instituting fair hiring practices, offering paid
    maternity leave, and ensuring access to affordable child care.
  • In 1968, the US Supreme Court ruled that sex-segregated help wanted ads in newspapers were illegal.

I’ve thought of this conversation quite a bit lately.  It’s entirely possible that this couple have no children or grandchildren. For surely if they do have grandchildren they’ve found that many (dare I say most?) young women fully intend to continue their post high-school education and work outside the home.  While there are some people who yearn for a return to a society with strictly-defined gender rules based on religious reasons, I find it hard to believe that the majority of westerners don’t appreciate how the role of women has changed.

I, for one, tip my hat and raise my glass high to salute Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan and all the other brave women who paved the way.

Now let me get back to work.

Photo credit iStockphoto


Clean Up Your Digital Dirt

Posted on October 24th, by Michelle McLaren in Business and Workplace. 2 comments

Do you really know everything about your own history?

Did you know that 44% of all employers check social networking sites? Potential employers can readily access certain aspects of your past and if you do not know what is out there on record keep reading. Is your resume trustworthy and does it account for gaps in employment? Does your information align in ALL your documents and profiles?

Why do employers conduct background checks?  Employers are concerned with negligent hiring practices. They confirm potentially false or inflated information, abide by federal and state laws and acknowledge the age in which we live – the ‘information age.’

There is an excellent fact sheet at The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse - Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker’s Guide. I encourage you to read the entire fact sheet; it contains a wealth of information. Here are some highlights I’d like to share with you.

What is included in a background check?

    • Anything from Social Security verification to driving and credit records, drug test records, criminal and court records, education records.
    • Character and personal references in addition to interviewing your neighbors, yes your neighbor!
    • Bankruptcy records, medical records, military records and state licensing records.

What cannot be included in a background check report?

    • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets national standards that guide consumer reporting agencies but not background checks done in-house.  Some states have stronger laws that guide this, such as California.
    • There are additional laws surrounding arrest information, criminal records and bankruptcies.  For instance you may ask it on an application but if it is over 7 years it can’t be ‘reported.’

Who conducts background checks?

    • Specialized agencies like private investigators, employment screeners, or data brokers
    • Small companies are often done in house.
    • A word of caution, if companies are small and use internet advertised services, they may be out of compliance with laws.

How do you prepare for a background check?

    • Order a copy of your credit report, review court and DMV records
    • Ask to see a copy of your personnel file from former jobs
    • Notify neighbors and colleagues they may be contacted

What else can you do to protect yourself?

    • Know your resources and stay abreast of laws surrounding background checks and workplace discrimination
    • Contact government agencies like EEOC and the Federal Trade Commission
    • Gather information about access to attorneys and identify theft programs such as pre-paid or other legal type services that are available to you.

This information is just a snapshot of all information related to background checks, but good timely and relevant information. What resources would you recommend to employers, employees and job seekers?

Photo credit iStockphoto