Post-Election Knowledge & Action

So it’s over.  While employment lawyers are spit-balling what President-Elect Trump will do, here’s what I know:

  • As a candidate, his tweets would render him ineligible for employment according to recruiters.

Regardless of how you voted, this matters. Discrimination and harassment are against the law even if the makeup of the EEOC changes.  (If Commissioner Lipnic is appointed Labor Secretary, President-Elect Trump will be able to fill three vacancies in the next two years).  Employers must combat discrimination or face costly investigations, litigation, and the PR nightmares that accompany them.

During the election, employers struggled with how to handle political conversations in the workplace given the negative rhetoric.  After the election, the struggle continues.  Respect, tolerance, and the work should and will continue to be the focus.

This focus is important, but finding the right messaging is hard.  Tim Cook’s letter to Apple employees following the election embraced all of the tech giant’s employees and encouraged unity.  Grubhub’s CEO asked employees who believed in the discriminatory rhetoric of Trump’s campaign to resign after first being criticized for what appeared to be a request that all Trump voters resign.   Each employer must find, and then strike, the right tone for its own culture.

I’ve spent the last three days struggling to understand why the friends and family I love and admire could look past the racism, sexism, bigotry, and cruelty to vote for Donald Trump.  Their votes struck a deep and sincere fear in so many, including me.  I have found solace in two things: (1) my little men know how to treat everyone with respect and embrace our differences, and (2) many employers know to do the same things.

Now, all of us, including those voters who looked past the nastiness even though it doesn’t fit their own beliefs, need speak out against the racism, the sexism, and the bigotry to have a constructive, empathetic conversation about what this election means for our workplaces and our country.





Yes, Compliance is Sexy

About six months ago, I used the hashtag #complianceissexy during a Minnesota Recruiters event.  The wonderful Jennifer McClure was discussing how recruiters have started using Snapchat as a way to reach candidates.  Now, Snapchat makes employment lawyers quake in their boots.  Because snaps supposedly disappear, we lawyers get anxious because the maintenance of recruiting records is something the EEOC will sue over.  So I advised recruiters to “Keep those snaps please!”

Naturally, some in the audience gave me whole body eye-rolls.  “Oh Kate” they said, like I’m squashing all the fun.  Trust me, I’m really trying not to.  If Snapchat will help you reach more candidates, if it increases applicant engagement, do it.  I won’t say no, in fact, I’ll try to help you figure out how to do it!  But the eye-rolls illustrate how people feel about compliance.

Compliance is nasty word to many.  It means “No.”  To me, compliance is not a “no.”  It’s a part of a larger picture, a way to reach goals that are good for business both from business and legal perspectives.  Compliance should never be the only reason a business does something nor should it be a hurdle a business can’t overcome.  Instead, we should look at compliance as something a part of making business better.

Take diversity initiatives for example.  Gone are the days that a company launches a diversity initiative just because it’s a federal contractor.  Instead, we all know that having a diverse workforce is good business, and the more we can reflect our audience, the higher our profits will get.  The business reason – higher profits – is a better reason for having a strong diversity program than simple compliance with OFCCP regulations.

The same is true for pay equity.  While I and others strongly encourage employers to conduct pay audits with a new EEO-1 looming, compliance isn’t the only reason to do so.  Do employees feel they are paid a fair wage?  Are you paying employees too low such that you have retention or recruiting issues?  Do opportunities exist to adjust pay structures to promote business goals (e.g. structuring sales comp plans to encourage new business development)?  All of these noncompliance reasons are just as pressing as preparations for the EEO-1 in March 2018.  A good pay audit will address these issues and provide help to adjust compensation systems to meet compliance and business objectives.

So yes, compliance is sexy.