Business

Are You Experiencing Discrimination at Work? Signs and What to Do about It

Workplace Discrimination

When one experiences workplace discrimination, it can be disheartening. For the victim, lost income, reduced work productivity and dissatisfaction, isolation, stress, and unemployment or underemployment often result. Places where workplace discrimination occurs frequently suffer from low employee morale, high turnover, and unfavorable productivity. Since work is an important part of true inclusion in our society, one must highlight how workplace discrimination divides and marginalizes people, both as individuals and groups.

What is Illegal Workplace Discrimination?

To count as discrimination in the legal sense, actions must violate legal protections. All U.S. workers are protected by federal law, which specifically forbids discrimination based on color, national origin, race, religion, sex, mental or physical disability, genetic information, pregnancy, or parenthood.

State laws also protect workers from discrimination based on those characteristics, plus other ones enacted by state legislatures. For example, many states have laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation. Also, many cities have laws that specifically prohibit other forms of workplace discrimination.

What are the Signs of Workplace Discrimination?

Signs of workplace discrimination may be overt and/or subtle. For example, a boss directly hinging a promotion on sexual favors would be overt sexual discrimination and harassment. A boss hinting about sexual favors and then claiming an employee who didn’t respond has poor work performance would be a more subtle form of sexual discrimination and harassment.

While overt signs of workplace discrimination are clear, subtle signs often start with small phenomena and then increase over time, frequently engendering a hostile and unhealthy atmosphere. Subtle signs often reveal themselves as patterns. For example, a male employee may make increasingly offensive comments about a female coworker after she refused to date him. The comments may begin as ones open to interpretation, but, over time, the harasser continues the pattern while his comments grow increasingly offensive, which constitutes a clear case of sexual harassment.

Signs of workplace discrimination often manifest themselves in adverse actions taken against an employee. Adverse actions include disciplinary action, failure to promote, demotion, unlawful retaliation, failure to accommodate protected leave, and wrongful termination. Because of equal opportunity employment safeguards, when an adverse action is taken on the basis of a protected characteristic, bad actors usually try to camouflage their discriminatory conduct by claiming a pretext for the adverse action.

A manager, for example, may refuse to promote a woman who earned a higher position because he thinks women are inferior leaders, which violates the law. To cover his tracks, he may give her an unjustified poor performance review and then use it as a pretext to deny the promotion. An adverse action paired with a pretext is a conspicuous sign of discrimination.

What Should Discrimination Victims Do about It?

Though a natural fear of rocking the proverbial boat can emerge, discrimination victims should contact their organization’s human resources department or a company manager. Once the employee has notified the human resources director, the company becomes obligated to investigate and correct any illegal discrimination. In many organizations, this solves the problem; in others, unfortunately, it yields no real change. Human resources departments are to intervene in ways that protect victims and rectify their problems.

In other organizations, investigations may favor the harasser because of power dynamics, politics, and other reasons. In this case, victims should consult an employment lawyer immediately. An employment attorney can inform victims about options available.

Victims of discrimination can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or their state’s Department of Human Rights. These agencies will investigate and attempt to settle the matter. If the matter cannot be settled by the agencies, victims can file a lawsuit in state or federal court.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Resources Consulted

The Balance

Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The American Association of University Women

The Nest

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What Does It Take to Get Ahead in the Workplace?

 

black business men

(Photo Credit: My Fredo)

With the competition in today’s workplace growing more fierce than ever, employees need to take advantage of every opportunity they have to get ahead in their jobs. Whether it’s gaining additional education, taking on leadership roles for company projects, or going above and beyond the call of duty when providing customer service, it often takes all this and more to secure that promotion and raise you’ve always wanted. If you’re ready to take your place among the elite within your company, here are some proven ways you’ll be able to get ahead at your company.

Always Find Something to Do

For many workers who complete their tasks and have some downtime, they can’t wait to pull out their smartphone or take a break at the water cooler. However, if you want to get ahead, always be the person who finds something to do. Whether it’s simply cleaning your work area or completing some additional training, chances are your supervisor will notice your productive efforts.

Earn Additional Education

If you’re looking to move into a management position, you’ll probably not only need on-the-job experience but some additional education as well. For example, if you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree, consider pursuing a master’s degree to help you stay ahead of your competitors. By doing so, you’ll be demonstrating initiative and a desire to improve yourself, something that will not go unnoticed by your supervisor.

Create Positive Relationships

From the top executives in your company to the custodian who cleans your office, develop positive relationships with everyone. By doing so, you’ll be able to establish a reputation as a friendly person who knows how to work well with people of various backgrounds, which is necessary for promotion.

Become a Leader

When an important project comes up, don’t be afraid to ask for a leadership role. If you can become the go-to person who can solve a crisis, you’ll be demonstrating skills that will serve you well as a manager or executive. By speaking up during meetings and presenting ideas that prove to be useful and result in success, those in charge of promotions will surely think of you the next time there’s an opening.

Show Up for Work

While this sounds simple enough, plenty of employees gain reputations for being “sick” far more often than other workers. Therefore, if you want to get ahead at your company, show up for work as often as possible. If you do, your supervisor will look at you as a reliable person, making you a go-to person time and time again.

Learn from the Top Employees

In any company, some employees seem to be able to do their jobs in an almost perfect manner. If you’re smart, you’ll connect with these people and learn the secrets to their success. By being around these people as much as possible, asking questions of them, and watching what they do and how they do it, you’ll learn skills that will put you in the fast lane to promotion. If possible, ask one of them to be your mentor. Mentorship is crucial to experiencing the highest level of success possible.

By keeping these tips in mind and implementing them, you can put yourself on a great career path. From gaining a mentor to always showing up to work when possible, your supervisor will undoubtedly realize you’re the perfect choice for a promotion.

Resources Consulted:

Heading Back to College

Importance of Being On Time

Building Great Work Relationships

WGU Master of Business Administration

Ways to Stay Busy on a Slow Work Day

Becoming a Leader at Work

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Are You Eligible to Work?

Business Employment

Businesses need to understand specific laws to avoid serious legal repercussions. For starters, they should check the eligibility of their employees. After reviewing the eligibility of the workers, employees are to complete an I-9 employment verification form. A business may face various legal penalties for hiring someone without properly assessing their legal documents. This piece investigates the I-9 employment verification form and the legal consequences of failing to follow employment eligibility and verification laws.

I-9 Employment Form

Who should complete the form? The I-9 employment verification form is to be executed by both the employee and the employer. The employee responds to the first section and the employer fills in the second section. What is its importance? The form is necessary for employer verification of workers hired after November 1986.

Legal Repercussions

American employment laws make it illegal to hire unauthorized workers knowingly. On the first day the employee arrives, business owners are required to check his or her documents to ensure the individual is legally allowed to work in the United States. Business owners can give workers up to 3 days from the day they started working to bring proper identification or proof their eligibility to work.

After checking the eligibility of employees, business owners are mandated to finish the I-9 employment verification form, regardless of each employee’s nationality. When businesses fail to perform these measures, they violate federal immigration laws. Each violation calls for paying a fine between $110 -$1,100. Although this fine may not seem much to medium-sized and large businesses, they can prove costly for most small businesses. 

Documents that Show You Are Eligible to Work in the United States

For an employer to hire you and finalize the I-9 employment verification form for you, you need to have specific items. The following is a list of some of the items required:

  • Unexpired temporary resident card
  • Unexpired employment authorization card
  • Unexpired reentry permit
  • Unexpired refugee travel document
  • Expired or unexpired US passport
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
  • Unexpired foreign passport with form I-94 showing that your employment authorization is not expired
  • Alien registration receipt card having a photograph
  • Driver’s license/voter registration card

In short, for you to work legally in the United States, you must meet the aforementioned eligibility requirements. After achieving the eligibility requirements, the employee and employer complete the I-9 employment verification form. As previously mentioned, hiring workers without filling in the I-9 employment verification form may bring business owners grave legal repercussions, including a fine of up to $1,100 for each offense.

Resources Consulted

Verify Protect

JDP

LinkedIn

The Balance

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud: Summary

Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud devotes his dominant attention to endings and why it’s vital to terminate certain relationships sometimes. Cloud posits that one’s success depends on how well he or she is able to end specific relationships, and his or her dreams cannot be realized without discontinuing relationships that hinder progress. The author does not give the reader a false impression that endings are easy; he asserts that they are quite difficult. Cloud uses the majority of the pages of the work to offer advice about how to employ endings to one’s advantage.

For Cloud, he finds that humans demonstrate a strong willingness to cope with phenomena that cause them discomfort. He, however, advocates for eliminating unnecessary waste and baggage that we often continue to maintain. A failure to disconnect from troubling waste and baggage prevents one from experiencing life to its fullest.

The book asserts that endings are purposeful and necessary. Cloud explains that one of the most inspiring lessons learned from endings is that we can transcend them, that we can experience tremendous growth on the other side of them. For example, if we are involved in an unproductive relationship—whether a business or personal one—we’re causing ourselves to be in decline. Such a relationship, Cloud argues, can become so a part of us that we think it’s normal to keep it. One cannot truly experience greatness without permitting the unfruitful to end.

Henry Cloud contends that in our personal and business relationships we need to find opportunities to engage in pruning; that is, cutting, trimming those phenomena that have become bloated in our lives. When pruning and endings become natural and welcomed dimensions of our lives, we develop into more successful individuals.

Let a sense of dissatisfaction engender an urgency to end an unnecessary personal or business relationship. One often has to face the reality that he or she will have to be the one who directly cuts the metaphorical umbilical cord to unproductive relationships.

When ending relationships with people, make it clear that those relationships are ending. Don’t dread the conversation involved in ending a relationship; think carefully about what one will say before this conversation occurs. Visualize the conversation and establish clear objectives and desired outcomes.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Is Your Last Name Affecting Your Job Search?

 

What’s in a name? Apparently, if you’re job hunting, it can mean everything.

Implicit Biases

As a nation and as individuals, implicit biases inform every aspect of daily life, from which neighborhoods we’re willing to visit to our job hiring practices. A good job correlates directly to improved living conditions, happiness, health, and a plethora of other positive incentives. However, as a minority, obtaining a quality job in a country rooted in predominantly white history and culture can be tough. Even people who are white-identifying, but have an ethnic-sounding surname, face this problem: they receive less callbacks and less offers for interviews, despite their resumes clearly indicating they’re qualified for the job. Why?

Otherness and Race

This phenomenon has been studied extensively in academia, whereby surnames that fall outside of an established norm (i.e. a culture of whiteness) inevitably elicit a knee-jerk response of distrust and “otherness.” A study conducted in 2003, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,” by Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, evidences this point.

In this study, fictitious resumes were sent out in response to wanted ads in Boston and Chicago. Each resume was rife with references, relevant experience, and deftness of form—the only difference was the name attached to each. Resumes had either stereotypical white-sounding names or stereotypical African-American names. The results were staggering.

For white-sounding names, callbacks for interviews occurred at a rate 50% greater than African-American names. And that wasn’t all: even when African-American names were attached to glowing resumes, they still received incredibly low levels of interest. White-sounding names attached to similarly stellar resumes received a 30% increase in callbacks. The conclusion? The amount of discrimination is uniform across all occupations and industries, and when an applicant has a white-sounding name, it is the equivalent of having eight more years of experience.

Unfortunately, phenomena haven’t changed since 2003. In 2014, another study was conducted that substantiated the findings of the 2003 study—proving that employers, in their hiring practices, are inferring something apart from race in a potential employee’s name.

In fact, it seems employers are making several assumptions based on preconceived notions about the cultures attached to ethnic-sounding surnames. When a white-sounding name is held as the golden standard, anything that falls outside of that realm finds itself faced with accusations of being unreliable, a less productive worker, or incompetent (i.e. an untrustworthy, “othered” individual). Certain ethnic names might carry with them the weight of assumed criminal responsibility, too, and be subject to excessive background checks or even more scrupulous Google searches for social media accounts.

Names Do Matter

In a culture like this, names are everything. Employers want the best candidate possible, and in that search, it is difficult, if not impossible, to detangle oneself from the web of preconceived notions and implicit biases that inform our culture of whiteness. As such, white-sounding names, names that are “easier to pronounce,” “more familiar,” and, most importantly, “non-other,”  unfortunately, take precedence, and equally talented minorities struggle to find a job they are more than qualified for.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Happy 37th Birthday to Dr. Santresa L. Glass

Dr. Santresa L. Glass

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Santresa L. Glass)

Most friends speak about they’ve had their “ups and downs” as friends, but we’ve never experienced any “downs.” For 16 years, you’ve been one of my best friends, and I’m grateful for our incomparable friendship. Too many people wait until someone’s funeral before sharing expressions of love, but we make our love for one another known weekly, even if it’s just a “love you” text. You’re undeniably beautiful on the inside and outside.

I’m so proud of all you have accomplished. When I think about the fact that my best friend is a pioneer in research on social media’s impact on small and medium-sized businesses, completing one of the earliest doctoral dissertations in this area, this makes me even more proud of you. I look forward to the future research you will conduct and publish in this area, and I look forward to collaborating with you on some empirical studies involving this interesting and important research.

The great work you’re doing through your non-profit organization, Cheesecake For The Cure, Inc., is commendable. Each day, your organization, under your leadership, works tirelessly to bring increased awareness about all forms of cancer—not just one or two forms as almost all other cancer-related organizations do. Again, you’re innovative and revolutionary approach to cancer prevention, education, support and treatment makes you a standout leader and thinker in this sector of the non-profit community. I’m intrigued to see what Cheesecake For The Cure, Inc. will do next. By the way, I hate cancer! (You already knew that, though.)

My prayer for you, on your 37th birthday, is to have a day of joy, peace, relaxation and reflection.

Without question, you’re one of the best gifts God has ever given to me.

Thank you for being who you are.

I love you.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Fridays with Dr. Glass: How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Small Business

Instagram and Small Business

(Photo Credit: Hype Beast)

Small business owners need to engage with Instagram to unlock the power and growth this social media platform offers to their businesses. Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Santresa L. Glass, a social media and small business expert, about how to use Instagram in profitable ways in small business. Her doctoral research and dissertation investigated the power of using social media, including Instagram, in small business to promote growth, sustainability, and success.

What are some of the ways in which small business owners can use Instagram to grow their small businesses?

There are several things small business owners can do in using Instagram to grow their business:

FREE! – Instagram is free. Why are small business owners NOT using it!? Some people lack the knowledge of how to use Instagram, others feel Instagram would not be beneficial to their small business (and that’s alright), and some people are just lazy in pursuing absolutely free means of marketing for their small business.

Capitalize on the power of a hashtag – I implore business professionals, specifically those in the food, hospitality, and beverage industries, to USE HASHTAGS! Jason Miles wrote, “A hashtag is represented by the “#” preceding a word or several words without spaces in between them.  It allows simple categorization to be applied to an image.” This means small business owners can create brief or extensive, funny or serious, colloquial or formal hashtags for their brand.  Magnolia’s Sweet Haven, for example, uses the following hashtags that I’ve created:

#Sweetspreneur

#TheKitchenIsMyHaven

#DrGBakes

#EpicureanSweets

#PamperedSweetTooth

Unlocking the full potential of hashtags helps with gaining new followers and reaching a larger demographic.

Visual platform advantage – Instagram offers small business owners more than a filtered or non-filtered portfolio of photographs. A great photograph accompanied by a catchy caption or, as I often use, mouthwatering descriptions draw potential followers to the Instagram (IG) business or brand page feed. Instagram provides an immediate virtual portfolio for future clients and current patrons to peruse.

Linking back to website/blog – When people post pictures, they often use the location feature per post to link back to their website or associated blog post.

@ing other business pages in bio link – I do have more than one Instagram profile and I often “@” each of them from my personal page. Most people DO read the brief bios that small business owners are able to provide at the top of their IG profiles. I maximize on both my personal and business Instagram pages by #GoalDigger @magnoliasweethaven and #GoGiver @cheesecakeforthecure in the bio section.

Connecting with other industry professionals – I cannot stress how many awesome industry professionals and hobbyist I’ve met on both my personal and professional Instagram pages.  Individuals who I would have never potentially connected with had it not been for their pictures or hashtags drawing me in.

What has been the impact of your use of Instagram on your small business?

Using Instagram for Magnolia’s Sweet Haven, LLC has proven beneficial, specifically “the power of the hashtag.” The visual commerce does help in selling mini cheesecakes, chocolate covered strawberries, boozy berries, wine-infused and traditional cupcake flavors as well as marketing dessert tables for special events like bridal showers and weddings.

Are there any potential pitfalls small business owners should watch out for when using Instagram? If so, what are they and how can they be avoided or mitigated?

One of the disadvantages of small businesses using Instagram is operating their business page as a private account. Not only can this be off-putting to potential clients, but it could also hinder the development of the small business brand.  On the one hand, an immediate rebuttal would be that depending on the number of followers and IG posts shown on the business page, people should “request to follow” such an exclusive account. On the other hand, most people want to see the immediate loading of photographs, especially if the business page had a food or dessert-specific, catchy name of curiosity. Private business pages are missing out on unlocking the full potential of the hashtags they are using if the general public isn’t able to view them when they use the “search” feature on Instagram.

Is there any empirical research available pertaining to Instagram use in small business? If so, share what the professional literature has said about this area of research?

Yes! There is a wonderful book by Jason G. Miles that discusses using the power of Instagram to your advantage.  Also, I’ve always enjoyed this infographic from Social Times about the power of the hashtag.

What are some of the critical gaps in the professional literature pertaining to Instagram use in small business?

There are few dissertations of reference that address Instagram as well as the use of social media in small business. There are also numerous industry professionals who have proven to be successful as social media marketers and social media consultants.

STAY CONNECTED TO DR. GLASS…

Email: msweethaven@gmail.com

Instagram: instagram.com/magnoliassweethaven

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison