Ensure Your Company’s Diversity Program Succeeds
Add a work/life component to your company’s existing diversity program. Biases against caregivers, the all or nothing schedules, and poorly administered workplace flexibility policies are all factors that lead to attrition among employees with caregiving responsibilities. Studies show that when these factors are combined with racial and other barriers, attrition among employees of color increases at a greater rate than attrition among white employees without caregiving responsibilities. Without an effective work/life component, your company’s diversity program will fail to control attrition, and as a result, will fail to achieve its goals.
Raise awareness through training.
Include family responsibilities discrimination in anti-discrimination policies in your personnel handbook.
(WLL Training Programs)
Educate supervisors about what constitutes caregiver discrimination, the groups that may be affected, and situations that give rise to FRD claims. Make sure supervisors understand that personnel actions must be based on legitimate job related criteria and business needs and individual performance rather than stereotypes (For example, denying an employee with young children a promotion to a position that requires extensive travel because the manager assumes that she will not want to travel.). Most people are not aware that they harbor biases such as mothers are not as competent as nonmothers, men who are actively involved in their family lives aren’t valued team players, and workers with sick parents who require care won’t be reliable or productive. Research shows that once people are aware of these biases, they can stop themselves from acting on them.
Conduct periodic self-audits of the company’s hiring, promotion, termination, compensation and assignment systems
Include family responsibilities discrimination in anti-discrimination policies in your personnel handbook whether as a standalone policy or as an addition to a broader policy. Include a definition of FRD; a statement of zero tolerance for discrimination against employees because of their caregiving responsibilities; procedures for filing an internal complaint; and an assurance that employees will not be retaliated against for filing a complaint. Discuss it in employee meetings to make sure employees understand what it is and what it isn’t. (Model Employer Policy)
Hold managers accountable.
The proof is in the pudding. Conduct periodic self-audits of the company’s hiring, promotion, termination, compensation and assignment systems to ensure that employees with caregiving responsibilities, particularly caregivers taking advantage of flexible work arrangements, are coming into the company, advancing, and getting compensated at a rate that is comparable to similarly situated employees without caregiving responsibilities.
Successful employers know that attracting and retaining excellent employees is a key business objective.
Hold managers accountable for taking affirmative steps to support, promote and retain talented employees with family responsibilities by adding this objective to their annual performance goals.
Make an effort to examine how work is performed in your company and to think creatively about other ways it could be performed.
Studies show that employees who feel supported by their supervisors and who are not distracted by unnecessary conflicts between work and personal lives are more loyal and more productive. Establish company policies for flexible work arrangements, personal leave, re-entry for individuals who have been out of the workforce for a while, support programs for parents and for employees who take care of elderly parents, etc. — and then make sure the policies work well in practice. This will generate loyalty and good will, reduce costly turnover and minimize the risk of FRD lawsuits.
Take a hard, objective look at what types of employees are doing what types of work in your company.
Much of the discrimination against caregivers arises because the traditional way work has been structured (with presumptions, for example, that the only desirable workers are those who can work long hours for years on end with no time off for child bearing or child rearing, that one has to work 40 or 50 or more hours per week to get ahead, that all work has to be done at a central location). Today’s workforce — Gen X and Gen Y workers who desire lives outside of work and greater involvement with family and Baby Boomers who want to slow down or who have to care for elderly parents – often doesn’t match up well with the expectations of the traditional workplace. Supervisors who seek and promote only those workers who can meet traditional expectations increase a company’s exposure to FRD claims.
If your top ranks, most important work, and most desirable assignments include only non-caregivers such as women without children and men who either don’t have children or who have someone at home to take care of family work, then you can surmise that your company has some biases against caregivers. (Note: this is also a good practice to see if your company’s diversity program is working – if no minority or female or flexible workers are in the highest and best positions in your company, your policy may benefit from some tweaking or better implementation.)
What best practices do you or your clients follow?
What best practices do you or your clients follow in order to prevent FRD claims and increase retention of employees with caregiving responsibilities? Send us your best practices using our contact form. When sending in your suggestions, please note whether you prefer to have your practices posted anonymously.