A new survey of ethnic minority business leaders in the UK from the consultancy Green Park shows that racial discrimination remains a serious challenge in the British workplaces, while UK businesses are not making sufficient progress toward meeting diversity and inclusion goals. The survey’s headline findings include that 18 percent of these leaders have personally experienced workplace discrimination in the past two years and that 82 percent of them do not trust their organizations and believe that there is institutional prejudice against minorities in the UK, People Management’s Emily Burt reports:
Meanwhile, just 2 per cent of companies surveyed by Green Park reported that they were meeting their targets for ethnic minority board-level representation, while more than a tenth (13 per cent) said they had an ethnic diversity target but no strategy for meeting it. …
However, nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of those surveyed felt most workplace prejudice was unconscious. In light of this, the researchers recommended that changes in attitudes towards institutional racism must come from the top and not just left to HR to “sort out”. But while 60 per cent of the surveyed ethnic minority leaders said they believed tackling institutional racism had moved up the organisational agenda in recent months, two-thirds of these respondents said workplace language around racism was emotive and made people uncomfortable.
Burt also points to a study published earlier in the year by the University of Manchester, which reviewed 25,000 incidents of racism in the workplace and came to the conclusion “that workplace racism was increasingly normalised,” with nearly 30 percent of surveyed employees saying they had “either witnessed or experienced racism from managers, colleagues, customers or suppliers.”
Meanwhile, the BBC reports on another new study conducted by the Trades Union Congress, which also found that more than one third of black or minority ethnic workers have experienced racism in the workplace:
Publicly reporting diversity statistics has become the norm for US tech companies over the past few years, but some major employers in Silicon Valley, including Twitter, Pinterest, Salesforce, and Ebay, are delaying their annual diversity reports this year, the Wall Street Journal’s Georgia Wells explains, as they rethink the purpose of these reports and refocus them on their recruiting goals rather than raw diversity data:
“It’s not about hitting a number for the sake of doing so,” said Candice Morgan, Pinterest’s head of diversity and inclusion. “The goals are about fundamentally making progress towards doing our most innovative work.” …
“There’s starting to be a shift in the conversation: we can’t just put the diversity data out there,” said entrepreneur Tracy Chou, who is part of an initiative to better measure and increase diversity in tech called Project Include. Instead, she said, companies are starting to ask, “What can we do to move the data in the right direction?”
In the past year or two, many of these Silicon Valley diversity reports have been met with disappointment, as tech giants fail to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves, sometimes making no progress or even moving backward despite investing significant resources in their diversity and inclusion strategies. Reporting on these missed goals may be transparent, but these companies now fear they are sending the wrong message:
Earlier this year, former Yahoo editor Gregory Anderson sued the company over its performance rating system, alleging that managers manipulated the system to meet their financial targets and that Yahoo discriminated against men in deciding who got fired for failing to meet performance goals. Last week, another former employee, Scott Ard, brought a discrimination suit of his own against Yahoo, the San Jose Mercury News reported, in which he alleges that CEO Marissa Mayer spearheaded a campaign to drive out male employees:
Ard, who worked for Yahoo for 3 ½ years until January 2015, is now editor-in-chief of the Silicon Valley Business Journal. His lawsuit also claims that Yahoo illegally fired large numbers of workers ousted under a performance-rating system imposed by Mayer. That allegation was not tied to gender. Yahoo spokeswoman Carolyn Clark defended the company’s hiring and performance-review processes, which she said are guided by “fairness.” …
In addition to Mayer, two other female executives — Kathy Savitt, former chief marketing officer, and Megan Liberman, editor-in-chief of Yahoo News, identified in the lawsuit as Yahoo’s vice president of news at the time — are accused in the lawsuit of discriminating on the basis of gender.
“When Savitt began at Yahoo the top managers reporting to her … including the chief editors of the verticals and magazines, were less than 20 percent female. Within a year and a half those top managers were more than 80 percent female,” the lawsuit said. “Savitt has publicly expressed support for increasing the number of women in media and has intentionally hired and promoted women because of their gender, while terminating, demoting or laying off male employees because of their gender.”
As functional heads of HR and their teams seek to create fair review processes that evaluate holistic performance and that encourage career development for diverse employees, this lawsuit is an object lesson in what can happen when review processes or diversity and inclusion initiatives are misconstrued or miscommunicated within an organization.
At the Wall Street Journal, Andrea Petersen rounds up evidence that sleep deprivation not only diminishes performance and cognitive ability, it messes with our emotional perceptions as well:
Researchers have found that people who are sleep-deprived have difficulty reading the facial expressions of other people, particularly when the expressions are more subtle. They are less able to discern, for example, whether a spouse is annoyed or just serene. People also are less emotionally expressive when they haven’t gotten enough sleep. They smile less, for example, even when they feel something is funny. Using neuroimaging, scientists are discovering certain patterns of brain activity that may be behind the emotional volatility that can be caused by lack of sleep. …
In one 2014 study published in Experimental Brain Research, 49 healthy young adults were divided into two groups. One spent a night without any sleep, while the other was able to sleep normally. The next day, the subjects were presented with images of faces that varied in the degree of emotional expression. The sleep-deprived subjects were much slower at identifying the emotions in all types of faces and were less able to accurately identify the sad faces.
Other studies have found that sleep-deprived people are less able to accurately identify angry and happy faces, too, particularly when the expressions are subtle. While many sleep deprivation studies have subjects go without an entire night of sleep, scientists say the results likely are applicable to the more real-world experience of chronically getting an insufficient amount of shut-eye.
This year’s extremely contentious presidential election has inflamed political passions throughout the US, in the workplace as much as anywhere else. At Pacific Standard, Tom Jacobs goes through some new research into how often employees are discussing politics at work this year, and how it’s been affecting them:
A new survey released by the American Psychological Association reports that, in this highly contentious election season, one in four American employees have been negatively affected by political talk at work. According to the survey of 927 American adults (all employed full- or part-time), which was conducted from August 10–12, 17 percent report they have “felt tense or stressed out” as a result of political discussions at work. Fifteen percent report they have “felt more cynical and negative at work” as a result, while 13 percent say election talk has made them “less productive,” and 10 percent say it has negatively impacted the quality of their work.
Nearly half of respondents — 53 percent of men, and 39 percent of women — report that “people at work are more likely to discuss politics this election.” But 52 percent of men and 55 percent of women stay out of it, insisting they “avoid discussing politics with coworkers.”
Sixteen percent of men and 8 percent of women say “team cohesiveness has suffered” due to in-house political disagreements, while 18 percent of men and 8 percent of women report “workplace hostility has increased.” One-quarter of men and 14 percent of women said they “avoid some coworkers because of their political views.”
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CEB’s Global Talent Monitor shows that around the world, work-life balance is the second most attractive job attribute (after compensation) that employees worldwide look for in a prospective employer, and in several parts of the world, it’s the most attractive of all. Yet in an era of smartphones, unlimited connectivity, and an increasingly mobile and remote workforce, the quest for balance can feel quixotic. A few years ago, the concept of “work-life integration” began to get talked about as an alternative approach to work-life balance, based on the theory being that if we can’t separate our work lives from our personal lives, it may be better to stop trying to keep them separate and find constructive ways to blend them instead.
A recent study appears to offer some new evidence in favor of work-life integration, at least from the employer’s perspective. The study suggests, as David Burkus explains at the Harvard Business Review, “that maintaining strict distinctions between work roles and home roles might actually be what is causing our feelings of stress to set in”:
To understand why, we need to understand a concept psychologists call a “cognitive role transition.”