Diversity and Inclusion

Originally published by Bloomberg Law.

Pay equity is a hot button issue for employers in the United States for a number of reasons—reputational concerns are triggered with increasing shareholder demands for transparency; activist investor groups are pushing companies, particularly in the financial services and technology industries, to disclose gender pay data; and, in the wake of pay equity in the news, employees are asking more questions about the issue.

Compounding the pressure, the gender pay gap also can impact talent acquisition. A recent Glassdoor survey found that 67% of US employees say they would not apply for jobs at employers where they believe a gender pay gap exists. The impact is magnified when looking at millennials. Approximately 80% of millennials, as noted in the Glassdoor survey, say they would not even apply for a job if they believed the company had a gender pay gap, which drives home the point that focusing on equality is, among other things, essential for a positive employer brand in the US market.

Click here to read on.

On June 20, our partners Bill Dugan and Meredith Kaufman presented to the New York City chapter of the ACC on Minding the (Gender Pay) Gap. Along with two in-house counsel panelists, Meredith and Bill discussed strategies for complying with equal pay protections under state and local laws and narrowing the pay gap.

One clear theme of the panel discussion was that pay equity cannot be viewed in a vacuum. As Meredith explained:

With equal pay protections expanding, it’s a critical time for clients to identify and rectify unjustified pay disparities between men and women. An effective remediation plan may include salary increases, but employers also need to address systemic bias and harassment to root out pay inequality.

Another takeaway was the importance of maintaining the attorney-client privilege when conducting pay audits. Bill noted:

We regularly undertake pay audits, including an in-house analysis of data, for our clients.  Conducting these audits under privilege allows us to identify potential exposure and advise on strategies to reduce legal risk, while protecting the analysis from disclosure as much as possible.

For more on how Baker McKenzie is assisting clients with their gender pay and pay equity compliance, please visit our Gender Pay Gap webpage.

In late May, California announced new amendments to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) strengthening the protections afforded to applicants and employees, including those who are undocumented, on the basis of national origin. The changes go into effect July 1, 2018. The new regulations significantly broaden the definition of “national origin” as well as conduct that constitutes discrimination based on national origin.

Continue Reading California Expands National Origin Protections In The Workplace

In a narrow ruling on June 4, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a couple celebrating a same-sex wedding on the basis of his religious opposition to same-sex marriages. (Same-sex marriages were not legal in Colorado at the time.) After the baker rebuffed the couple in 2012, they filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission pursuant to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in a “place of business engaged in any sales to the public and any place offering services . . . to the public.”

Continue Reading SCOTUS Narrowly Rules In Favor Of Baker In Same-Sex Confectionery Controversy In Fact-Specific Decision

Two recent events in the US vividly illustrate the growing centrality of gender pay equity issues. On one side of the ledger, in early April 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Rizo v. Fresno County Office of Education, held that an employee’s prior salary—either alone or in a combination of factors—cannot be used to justify paying women less than men in comparable jobs. On the other side of the ledger, the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, on April 20, 2018, announced that it is upending standards implemented during President Obama’s administration designed to promote gender pay equity among federal contractors. Under this new policy, employers will be able to decide for themselves how their employees should be categorized and analyzed for purposes of fair pay investigations by the government.

These two US events are merely the latest examples of increased activity around the globe with regard to the issue of pay equity.  Click here to read more.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

May 13 is Mother’s Day in the US, Australia and Canada. As such, it feels apropos to recognize the latest initiatives in the US and around the world aimed at increasing opportunities at work for working mothers (and caregivers more generally). Government-mandated maternity, paternity and parental leave and benefits, as well as robust childcare and eldercare infrastructure are among the most effective public policy investments for promoting gender parity in the workforce. As employers strive to retain working parents and increase female representation in corporate leadership roles, this article highlights how parental leave rights and related benefits are changing to reduce the burden of work-family conflicts on women and encourage men (and even grandparents!) to avail themselves of paternity leave and/or parental leave.

While the intended effects of new legislation in this area are of course positive, it can be challenging for US and multinational employers to navigate the patchwork of statutory requirements that offer varying entitlements based on differing circumstances. Even beyond managing simple compliance, many multinational employers also feel the pressure to stay competitive in the war for talent and to create human resources policies that can be managed centrally in a streamlined fashion, while also locally compliant in jurisdictions outside of the US.

Please click HERE to read our article. We focus on recent entitlements and related benefits made available to employees who manage caregiving responsibilities outside of work and share the updates multinationals need to know.

For more details, please contact your Baker McKenzie lawyer.

Last week, a team of Baker McKenzie partners (Andy Boling, Doug Darch, Bill Dugan and Miriam Petrillo) led a lively roundtable in Deerfield, Illinois on the topic of civility in the workplace.

Attorneys from the EEOC (Greg Gochanour, Regional Attorney for Chicago Office) and the NLRB (Paul Hitterman, Regional Attorney for Region 13 of the NLRB) joined us in leading the discussion. Topics included disciplining employees for uncivil workplace behavior, the enforceability of confidentiality restrictions on witnesses during internal investigations and the NLRB’s newly issued test for reviewing employee work rules.

Here, we share a “top 10” list to highlight the principal takeaways from the program.

Continue Reading Top 10 Takeaways For Managing A Diverse Workplace From Our Civility Seminar

**UPDATE: Both the New York state and city training requirements have been signed into law. The state requirements go into effect on October 9, 2018, and the city requirements go into effect on April 1, 2019. **

In the last two weeks, New York state and city legislatures each passed groundbreaking legislation that would require most private employers to provide sexual harassment training to their workforces every year. No other US jurisdiction requires annual harassment training for all employees, making this legislation – if signed into law – the most expansive in the country. (California requires training for supervisors and managers only, see more HERE.)

Continue Reading Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training Comes To New York

It’s no secret that a diverse and inclusive workplace has become critical for success. Clients, investors and talent are increasingly attracted to companies with socially responsible values and progressive workplace polices – with good reason. Diversity and inclusion have been linked to innovation, financial results and employee engagement.

Yet many organizations have long struggled to create impactful diversity and inclusion programs, particularly when it comes to increasing diversity at senior levels. While there is no silver bullet to eliminate bias, you can advance your diversity and inclusion program by making it a core component of your corporate culture and implementing practical strategies to update your initiative.

Click here to read the entire article, originally published on Ethisphere.com.