Is Intolerance Boiling Under the Surface of your LGBTQ Diversity Initiative?

It is encouraging to see a large number of businesses showing enthusiasm for Pride month, when just a few years ago many companies were hesitant to publicly endorse their support for the LGBTQ community out of fear of things like “customer backlash” or “taking a stance.” Many businesses are thankfully no longer afraid to show support for a very important segment of the population, and are (at least outwardly) embracing sexual orientation and gender diversity in a variety of different ways. Such enthusiasm would make an observer think LGBTQ employees are happier at work than ever, but recent surveys and research into the subject indicate that may not be the case.

 

Recent Surveys Indicate LGBTQ Employees Still Subject to Intolerant Workplaces

According to a recent survey conducted in  by Monster.com, at least 20% of the more than 600 people surveyed answered that their organization has a negative attitude toward the LGBTQ community (regardless of the organization’s public stance on the issue). Likewise, 56% of respondents answered that their organization should be doing more to recruit and retain members of the LGBTQ community to fill jobs where they work.

 

Similarly, a 2019 study conducted by Glassdoor.com revealed 43% of LGBTQ employees surveyed feel they cannot be truly “out” at work, and nearly half of those respondents (47%) felt they could lose their job if they revealed their sexuality or gender identity. The Glassdoor survey also revealed that 50% of LGBTQ employees surveyed had witnessed discrimination or harassment related to their own or another employee’s LGBTQ status.

 

Putting on a Happy Face is not Enough

Respondents to surveys indicate an overwhelming lack of desire to work for organizations that are intolerant of LGBTQ employees. Further, the disturbing findings in the Monster.com and Glassdoor.com show that organizational perceptions of tolerance toward LGBTQ employees are out of touch with reality. For these reasons, it is clearly time for a change in the way organizations formulate and maintain their diversity and inclusion initiatives when it comes to LGBTQ employees.

 

All too many organizations are displaying rainbow icons on their social media accounts and donating money to LGBTQ initiatives, yet those same organizations are failing to support the entirety of their workforce. When companies put on a “happy face” to the public regarding LGBTQ issues, yet fail to support those members of that community working within their organization, the intolerance under the surface truly makes the “inclusion” portion of LGBTQ diversity and inclusion that much more painful to those that witness intolerance in the workplace.

 

The Law Should not be Your Guide (Unless it is Pro-LGBTQ)

Part of the reason organizations still feel hesitant to fully embrace LGBTQ diversity in their workplace is the law. It may surprise you depending on your geographic location, but 26 states still do not provide EEO protection to LGBTQ employees. Compounding this fact is the unsettled nature of federal law on LGBTQ discrimination and harassment.


Given the natural tendency of many compliance officers and HR departments to let the law dictate their policy, a surprising number of employers do not include LGBTQ protections in their policy. While the monster.com survey revealed 85% of responding organizations do have an anti-discrimination polciy in place for LGBTQ employees (regardless of jurisdictional law), this is still far higher than the 68% of employees who felt there was support and enforcement of that policy.

 

Employers need to embrace the concerns of their LGBTQ workforce and understand that the LGBTQ community is an exponentially growing segment of the workforce. The law in this area is changing, but more importantly, societal views toward those organizations that discriminate and/or are intolerant toward LGBTQ employees are extremely negative.

 

Syntrio takes pride in its support for the LGBTQ community and makes a point of emphasizing the importance of protecting this segment of the workforce (and all employees in general) in its courseware. If your organization is not doing all it can to support and protect LGBTQ employees, it is behind the curve and hopefully the eye-opening statistics discussed above are enough of a business reason to embrace your LGBTQ employees and ensure they feel happy and safe in their work environment

Beyond Rainbow Flags

During Pride Month, you’re probably seeing the rainbow Pride flag everywhere, including in the logos of companies and brands you follow on social media. While this type of representation and visible ally ship is valuable, it’s important that your organization matches its public displays of support with internal policies and workplace culture that is truly inclusive of LGBTQ+ employees. Just under half of LGBTQ+ employees are still closeted (meaning they are not open about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity) at work and 42% of LGBTQ+ individuals report having experienced some type of employment discrimination according to a 2012 survey.

 

Making your company a safe and supportive place to work for all individuals regardless of gender identity and expression and sexual orientation is not only the right thing to do, it also is linked to measurably positive business outcomes. It’s no coincidence that 91% of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Businesses that are LGBTQ+ friendly report economic benefits in the following areas:

 

  • Recruitment and Retention: According to data from Glassdoor, over two-thirds of job seekers say that a diverse workforce is a major factor when deciding whether to apply for a job or accept a job offer. Inclusive workplaces attract top talent and are less likely to have employees leave their jobs as a result of discrimination. The Center for American Progress cites a study estimating that replacing over two million workers who quit as a result of discrimination has an estimated annual average cost of $64 billion.
  • Higher Revenues: The same Chamber of Commerce report notes, “Those publicly held companies with LGBT-friendly policies have seen their stock prices increase by an average 6.5% compared with their industry peers.”
  • Customer/Consumer Relationships: According to research cited in The Advocate, the LGBTQ+ population in the United States represented $917 billion in buying power in 2017. As a consumer base, LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies also tend to be more brand loyal, with over 75% of LGBTQ+ adults (and their allies, friends, and family members) saying they would switch to brands known to be LGBTQ+  friendly.
  • Innovation: Research by the Center for Talent Innovation found that inherently diverse companies demonstrate greater market innovation due to a “speak up” culture that allows the ideas of more employees to be heard. Furthermore, they found that when business teams have “one or more members who represent the gender, ethnicity, culture, or sexual orientation of the team’s target end user, the entire team is far more likely (as much as 158% more likely) to understand that target, increasing their likelihood of innovating effectively for that end user.”

 

Can Respect and Civility Be Trained?

In a word, yes but consider the stereotypes and conscious and unconscious bias we all bring to work. Multiply this lack of awareness of civility by the number of employees in an organization and you see the challenge. Only self-awareness and emotional intelligence (EQ) training, (both of which is offered by Syntrio) can help us understand what our words and actions may do to another person. It’s no secret that enlightened organizations (and those that inspire to be) incorporate self-awareness and EQ training as an essential part of their respectful and civil workplace initiatives.

 

Building a Truly Inclusive Workplace

From policies to training to benefits, there are many ways to make your workplace more LGBTQ+ friendly, which has the added benefit of making your organization more welcoming to people from all types of diverse backgrounds: women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, military veterans, and others. In addition to training (for example, diversity and inclusion courses from Syntrio) and policy, your organization  can use LGBTQ+ inclusive language in internal and external communications, have an LGBTQ+ employee resource group, and consider donating to LGBTQ+-related causes.

 

Hopefully, next year when Pride Month comes around, you can feel confident that your company’s rainbow logo is backed by a deeply held commitment to inclusion, diversity, and anti-discrimination.

New York Seeks to Expand Sexual Harassment Laws

In 2018, New York enacted sweeping legislation requiring employers to train nearly all employees that work in that State. While it is likely employers are still scrambling to meet these new requirements, the 2019 legislative session shows no signs of New York slowing down its efforts to eradicate offensive behavior from its workplaces.

 

Lawmakers within New York seek to pass ten bills that would dramatically expand employee protections from sexual and other harassment. Most importantly, the State seeks to alter its constitution to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of everything from sex to national origin and everything in between. Such a change would alter the landscape of legal interpretation of New York harassment law, and provide yet another avenue for victims to argue that their claim was indeed illegal harassment. Constitutional protections can simplify some of the complicated statutory provisions that make up this area of law.

 

Along this same line, New York’s legislature seeks to remove the requirement that misconduct meet the current “severe and pervasive” standard. Currently, except in extreme circumstances, for conduct to be considered illegal harassment it must be both severe and “pervasive.” The pervasive component requires misconduct to occur on a repeated and ongoing basis, something that is a sticking point in many harassment lawsuits, and leaves many trials ending in verdicts for the defense. Should this change occur, the standard would be streamlined, and even single incidents of offensive behavior could create liability for employers.

 

New York also seeks to clean up statutory language to ensure harassment is officially considered a form of discrimination, hold employers liable for the misconduct of all non-employees, and extend the time employees have to file a complaint with the New York Division of Human Rights. Such legal and procedural changes would certainly have an impact on the ability of employers to have greater access to remedies for harassment, and would undoubtedly increase the number of harassment lawsuits filed within New York.

 

Undoubtedly, employers operating within New York have been given reason to pause and examine their policies and procedures regarding workplace harassment in the last two years. The news that the State legislature seeks to expand protections for employees in this space even further should be the impetus for your organization to take a full-scale audit of its practices to ensure compliance with State and local laws is met. Failing to do so could leave your organization behind the curve as laws within the Empire state continue to expand.

New California Sexual Harassment Training Law Approved by Governor Brown

On October 1, 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1343, which amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to require non-managerial employees to receive bi-annual training on the prevention of sexual harassment, gender identity issues and the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace by January 1, 2020 (or within six months of assuming their position).

On October 1, 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1343 

Although this sweeping change is sure to be burdensome for employers, organizations can rest somewhat easier on the grounds that the required training for non-managerial employees will only be one hour in duration (as opposed to the two hour requirement currently in place). Please take note that managers and supervisors will still be required to receive bi-annual sexual harassment training as has been the case in the past.

The new requirement is part of a series of sweeping changes to California’s FEHA 

The new requirement is part of a series of sweeping changes to California’s FEHA, that are in accord with changes that went into effect in New York and other states. The new training requirements are just one component of those laws.

In response to these changes Syntrio is well prepared to offer your employees both industry-leading sexual harassment training for California managers and a one-hour course that covers the needs of non-managerial employees. In the coming months we will be rolling out a completely refreshed California non-manager course that will truly set the standard for interactive online training in this industry.

Contact Syntrio to schedule a demonstration of our California courseware.

Syntrio invites you to contact us to schedule a demonstration of our California (and other state) courseware with one of our representatives at your earliest convenience. It is never too early to get a head start on fulfilling your requirement for California training, especially given the California legislature’s comment that those employees who receive training by January 1, 2019 will not have to re-train when at the January 2020 deadline!

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


Connecticut Enacts Law Barring Employers from Asking About Prior Compensation

Beginning on January 1, 2019 Connecticut employers of all sizes will no longer be allowed to inquire into prospective employees’ past compensation and compensation structures. On May 22, 2018 Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed into law the “Act Concerning Pay Equity,” a new law aimed at protecting prospective employee privacy with respect to past compensation.

On May 22, 2018, Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed into law the Act Concerning Pay Equity

Unlike some other similar laws around the country, Connecticut’s law will likely apply to any employee who files an application or interviews with a company in that state. In addition to inquiries about wage and salary history, the new law will prohibit employers from asking questions that may reveal the type and structure of compensation and the value of individual elements of how an employee was paid at his or her former jobs.

Important for employers to understand, violations of this new law will be serious, and can have financial implications if it is not followed. Indeed, the Act Concerning Pay Equity creates a private right of action for prospective employees to bring a claim against the employer. This claim will likely also be tied to discrimination or other employment law claims that could subject an employer to very costly litigation far into the future, as the claims carry a two-year statute of limitation.

Now may be a good time to review your company’s hiring policies

Now may be a good time to review your company’s hiring policies and/or application materials, and to re-train hiring managers to ensure they are no longer asking questions about salary history or compensation structure. It can be easy to fall into traps during an interview when employees begin asking questions about how they will be paid at their new job, if hired. Unless an employee offers up his prior pay unsolicited, your managers should never ask any questions that may even be probative of salary history or past compensation.

We strongly recommend consulting with our representatives to learn more about the training resources Syntrio offers to prevent wage and hour issues in the workplace. Syntrio’s subject matter experts are well in tune with changes to the law, and can help you and your company craft a plan of prevention that suits your business needs, no matter its size. We invite you to contact us today at 888-289-6670 or by filling out the online form available here.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.