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How Managers Can Move Employees with Disabilities into Leadership

How Managers Can Move Employees with Disabilities into Leadership

​A recent study found that employees with disabilities often believe they don’t have the same opportunities for advancement within their company as do employees without disabilities.Overall, employees with disabilities are less confident their skills will be used effectively or that their employer will trust them to use their own judgment when performing their job, according to a recent study on The State of Disability Employment Engagement by Mercer and Global Disability Inclusion. It often depends on a manager whether an employee with a disability gets the same leadership development opportunities as any other employee. “Leaders … need to look for ways to give people with disabilities opportunities to be visible in front of a group,” said PwC Tax Director Rob Rusch. “If we live in world where an individual in a wheelchair is visible, then it starts to break down that perception” that someone in a wheelchair may not be capable of performing a certain job.Here are three ways managers can provide leadership opportunities for employees with disabilities.Encourage Self-IdentificationMore companies are encouraging employees to self-identify that they have a disability, particularly if an employee has an invisible disability. People who disclose their disability are more engaged with the organization, their managers and their teams than those who have not disclosed, according to The State of Disability Employment Engagement. “I’m very comfortable identifying my disability, but I don’t have much choice because it’s an external physical disability,” said Rusch, who has a neuromuscular disability and uses a power wheelchair. Although Rusch understands that an employee with an invisible disability might not be as eager to disclose because of concerns about how a manager or co-worker could react, he doesn’t regret being open about his disability. “It has opened resources and doors for me to lean into that identity,” he said.Of the 45,078 PwC employees in 2020, 2.6 percent self-identified as having a disability, up from 1.6 percent of its 43,713 employees in 2018, according to the 2020 PwC Diversity & Inclusion Transparency Report. However, Senior Associate Nesa Mangal said, because PwC is relying on self-identification, the number of employees with disabilities is likely higher.At tech company Intel, 1.4 percent of the 110,600 employees self-identified as having a disability in 2020, said Dawn Jones, chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of social impact. Intel’s goal is to increase the percentage of employees who self-identify as having a disability to 10 percent of the workforce by 2030, Jones noted. “This is an important goal for us as we work toward an inclusive and psychologically safe environment where employees are empowered to bring their whole self to work and succeed,” she said.Address Inaccurate Perceptions “Because of first impressions, people with disabilities probably don’t always get the benefit of doubt that [other people] get, especially if their disability is visible,” said Paula Jenkins, a project manager and executive chef at The Galley Dining Hall in Charleston, S.C. Jenkins manages 120 employees, and about 92 percent have a disability. The Galley contracts with Palmetto Goodwill in …

Report: 'Allies' Aren’t Taking Basic Actions in the Workplace

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Report: 'Allies' Aren’t Taking Basic Actions in the Workplace

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Addressing Racial Inequities in Retirement Savings

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Addressing Racial Inequities in Retirement Savings

​Marlo J. Gaal, SHRM-SCP, is chief talent officer at Chicago-based Ariel Investments, a Black-owned mutual fund investment firm. As businesses began prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) strategies over the past 18 months, Gaal received inquiries from HR colleagues about “all things DE&I,” save one at the heart of Ariel’s business.”To be honest, I have not gotten a direct request” on increasing Black investors’ savings rates, Gaal said, although Ariel publishes an annual survey with Charles Schwab detailing Black investors’ statistics and sentiments. The latest survey, conducted in December 2020 among 2,104 U.S. adults with $50,000 or more in household income, found that historical disparities remain pronounced, even when excluding low-paid workers. For instance: Dollar contributions. White 401(k) plan participants, on average, invested 26 percent more per month toward their retirement accounts than Black 401(k) plan participants ($291 versus $231). Loan-taking. More than twice as many Black 401(k) plan participants than white participants (12 percent versus 5 percent) borrowed money from their retirement accounts.The findings reflect long-standing wealth disparities in the U.S. According to Federal Reserve Board statistics compiled in 2019, the median net worth for Black families was $24,100, for Hispanic families $36,050, and for white families $189,000. Racial Inequities in 401(k) Savings: Another ViewT. Rowe Price’s Retirement Savings and Spending Study highlights racial disparities in 401(k) plan participation and savings-deferral rates, based on 3,420 participants who responded to a June 2020 survey.Among employees with access to a 401(k) or similar defined contribution plan at work, the survey showed: Source: T. Rowe Price, Retirement Savings and Spending Study (2021).”Better understanding the challenges underrepresented groups face can help employers and financial professionals develop strategies to help ensure participants of all races and ethnicities thrive financially and retire successfully,” said Dee Sawyer, head of individual investors and retirement plan services at T. Rowe Price.Taking a Broad ApproachGaal advised HR leaders to take a broad look at what they can do to help employees save, bearing in mind the challenges faced by members of communities that have been historically disadvantaged. Ariel, for instance, completely funds employees’ health insurance premiums, freeing up more of the workers’ paychecks for other allocations. Emergency savings accounts are also becoming more common as an employee benefit.”There’s no magic bullet,” Gaal said. “HR executives, along with their [C-suite] peers, need to assess [workforce] demographics, your industry, what you can afford, and put a plan in place that makes sense for your organization.”Kezia Charles, director of retirement at consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, sees a new emphasis on DE&I efforts in retirement counseling planning. In a recent post on the Willis Towers Watson blog, Charles outlined steps employers can take to ensure DE&I in retirement planning is adequately addressed, such as: Measuring plan data and analyzing metrics by diverse cohorts. Look for low deferral rates, missed employer-match opportunities, loans, withdrawals and wage garnishments to highlight segments of the population that are more likely to have long-term financial insecurity. Reviewing plan design and access to it. According to Willis Towers …

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Report: First Year with Employer Critical for LGBTQ+ Employees

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Report: First Year with Employer Critical for LGBTQ+ Employees

​Newly hired employees who identify as LGBTQ+ typically will come out during their first year at an organization or not at all, according to a new global report.”For most LGBTQ+ people, the first year in a new job is critical in the coming-out journey,” Boston Consulting Group (BCG) researchers noted in Why the First Year Matters for LGBTQ+ Employees.Across the countries surveyed, an average of 70 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents said they came out during the hiring process or within the first 12 months of starting their job. After the first year with the employer, only 10 percent came out and the other 20 percent never disclosed their identity as an LGBTQ+ individual.”We observed this broad trend across most of the countries we surveyed, except in India and China, where employees in general took longer to come out or chose to stay closeted: just 36 percent and 56 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents in India and China, respectively, said that they had come out by the end of their first year at work,” the researchers wrote.The findings are based on a global survey of 8,800 people who worked in corporate settings and have high levels of education. Respondents were from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of respondents identified as LGBTQ+, and the survey was skewed toward those working for companies with relatively advanced LGBTQ+ policies and programs, according to the report. Most respondents (88 percent) were between the ages of 18 and 44. CREATE LASTING IMPACT IN THE WORKPLACEJoin us at the SHRM INCLUSION 2021 conference Oct. 25-27 in Austin, Texas, for three engaging days of learning and networking. You will get the tools, best practices and actionable solutions you need to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. Register Now Coming out is not a singular event, the researchers noted, but “a journey defined by daily decisions and interactions. It can include coming out to colleagues or clients.”Even after making the initial leap to share their identity at work, many LGBTQ+ individuals choose to cover up that information at times,” they wrote. About one-fourth of respondents who described themselves as mostly out at work “said that they would on occasion lie, omit details, or avoid answering questions about their sexual orientation.”About half of the respondents who were not out at work said they did not plan to come out, with more than 63 percent saying their sexuality and gender identity is a private matter.Deena Fidas thinks those who cite privacy as a reason for avoiding disclosure do so because they likely experienced negative consequences elsewhere. She is managing director and chief program and partnerships officer at Out & Equal, headquartered in San Francisco. The organization works exclusively on LGBTQ+ workplace equality through its global programs and Fortune 500 partnerships.”When LGBTQ+ people say it’s nobody’s business, it’s because they faced discrimination,” she said. “The vast majority of …

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Supporting Social Justice: A Q&A with Cisco's Shari Slate

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Supporting Social Justice: A Q&A with Cisco's Shari Slate

​Protests and social unrest over racism, the killing of Black individuals and the workplace inequity that people from underrepresented communities experience have prompted employees, clients and customers to look to the organizations where they work and the businesses they patronize to use their resources to make a tangible difference.In response, Cisco created the Social Justice Beliefs and Commitment to Action initiative, a five-year plan to invest in partnerships, programs and its own operations to support social justice work.SHRM Online reached out to Shari Slate, chief inclusion and collaboration officer and vice president of inclusive future and strategy at Cisco in San Jose, Calif., to learn more about the diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiative launched in September 2020. Slate joined Cisco in 2010 as an inclusion and collaboration strategist and was promoted to chief inclusion and collaboration officer in 2014. Under her leadership, Cisco has achieved its highest diversity levels for five consecutive years. Last year, she helped develop and implement Cisco’s social justice initiative.  The following comments have been edited for clarity and length.SHRM Online: What was the catalyst for creating the Social Justice Beliefs and Commitment to Action initiative? Shari Slate: Like many companies, Cisco has been on a journey to tackle inequity and injustice for a long time, but 2020 was a reckoning and shined a light on the gap between our efforts and our aspiration. We didn’t just start this journey last year, however; we learned a lot over the past 20 years that helped shape our values and culture.By the time of George Floyd Jr.’s murder in 2020, we were ready for the opportunity to take on this monumental change to work for social justice. It was the eve of our annual global customer and partner event, and our executive leadership team listened to the Black community to better understand the impact of what was happening in the world; forty-four thousand Cisco employees joined that call. The dialogue was raw, emotional, painful and heartbreaking, and that dialogue set Cisco on a path of bold action.We decided to take protecting the equal rights, safety and dignity of our people and our communities around the world to a whole new level. We started what has become Cisco’s Social Justice Beliefs and Commitment to Action initiative.SHRM Online: Cisco is working to partner with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to develop long-term inclusion strategies. How is this accomplished? Slate: Our goal with this initiative was to create impact that would drive generational change. We believe that education is the foundation for that and preserving the legacy of HBCUs would be critical for our success. HBCUs are responsible for producing 40 percent of Black engineers, 80 percent of Black judges and 40 percent of the Black members of Congress. We are contributing $150 million to the Student Freedom Initiative—$100 million to directly support HBCUs with critical technology upgrades and $50 million to fund the nonprofit’s endowment, which will help pay for thousands of future students’ education.[Editor’s Note: The Student Freedom Initiative is …

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How to Avoid Discrimination When Using AI

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How to Avoid Discrimination When Using AI

Given the prevalence and rising use of artificial intelligence for customer service, feedback and general information, it’s no surprise that HR teams are adopting AI-driven bots for workplace communication.Companies are embracing bot tools as time and money savers to conduct and evaluate interviews, substituting them for face-to-face conversations. AI tools can also screen resumes, monitor employees and provide predictive analytics.Jennifer Betts, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins, joined her colleague Joseph L. Beachboard during the session “AI, the Right Way: Avoiding Employment Discrimination with Artificial Intelligence” at the recent SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021 to discuss the trend.The Emergence of AIAI uses machines, or computers, to perform tasks in a way that is intelligent, in that the computers can change course depending on the information being collected. These tasks are conducted through algorithms, or a set of instructions for the computer to follow.AI-enabled content generation and other AI-based tools have been available on the marketplace for years. Now they have transitioned from the “hype” of new technology to the adoption phase due to necessities resulting from the pandemic, Betts said.There are many different forms of AI. The two most important forms for employers to understand are machine learning and natural language processing.Machine learning involves AI systems that show improved performance as they are fed more data and as they predict more outcomes. In other words, they become wiser over time and through more extensive use.Natural language processing is the branch of computer science—and more specifically, the branch of AI—concerned with giving computers the ability to understand text and spoken words in much the same way humans can.AI today can be found in autonomous vehicles, injury prediction, fraud detection, precision medicine, photo tagging and “talk to text.”CREATE LASTING IMPACT IN THE WORKPLACEJoin us at the SHRM INCLUSION 2021 conference Oct. 25-27 in Austin, Texas, for three engaging days of learning and networking. You will get the tools, best practices and actionable solutions you need to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. Register Now Proper AI Programming Is KeyAI-powered analytics tools make it easier to effectively and cheaply, for example, measure productivity, identify trends and recognize potential areas for improvement—all necessary enhancements in the workplace of the future. There are many slow adopters and skeptics of AI. Betts said it’s important to realize that “Artificial intelligence itself is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. It’s critical to remember that AI’s effectiveness is all about how the AI and bots are programmed and maintained, not the concept of AI itself.” AI and Hiring PracticesAI has grabbed a lot of headlines about hiring lately, with articles reporting on how applicants can “beat the system” and have their resumes gain more attention by using and prioritizing specific words and phrases that suggest they are a better fit for the job description.Many organizations utilize AI during the initial stages of the hiring process, such as to deliver programmed questions to applicants via a robot, which can save time for hiring managers who …

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An Inside Look at Workplace Racial Affinity Groups

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An Inside Look at Workplace Racial Affinity Groups

As many employers struggle to achieve racial equity in their workforces, a new approach has emerged that can help create a more equitable and inclusive culture.Racial affinity groups, or racial caucuses, provide separate spaces for people who share a racial identity to gather, share experiences and explore how racism may manifest in their organizations. Employers can use the recommendations that emerge from these groups to take corrective action, address racial inequities and advance the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) goals.When CompassPoint decided to incorporate racial affinity groups into its racial equity framework, the San Francisco Bay area nonprofit training firm created two staff groups: a people of color (POC) caucus and a white caucus. The groups investigate how their experiences impact the ways they approach social justice. The facilitator of CompassPoint’s POC caucus, Kad Smith, believes it’s critical to separate groups along racial lines.”In the process of exploring and talking about race in an organizational or professional context, I have personally seen how the vulnerability of people of color in multiracial spaces is seldom matched by white colleagues,” he said.Mary Conger, Ed.D., founder of The American Dialogue Project in New York City, and Ali Michael, Ph.D., an organizational culture consultant and race educator in suburban Washington, D.C., have come to a similar conclusion.”Bringing white people and people of color together to discuss race can be like placing pre-algebra students in a calculus class,” they wrote in an article. “The people of color are often so far ahead of the white people that they would have to slow down in order to let us catch up.” Adds Kevin Eppler, a curriculum content specialist, facilitator and co-founder of the White Men’s Racial Justice Group (WMRJ): “We are first graders when it comes to talking about race. Black people are Ph.D. students.”Although CompassPoint’s POC caucus ultimately chose to make the group’s primary focus individual reflection over organizational change, Smith said caucus members also worked to acquire organizational influence in appointments to roles and positions.”What you call [the group] matters,” noted Smith, founder of Twelve26 Solutions, an organizational development and leadership consulting firm in San Francisco. “It raised the question, ‘What were we caucusing for?’ Were we caucusing for organizational change? Were we caucusing for representation on the management team?”The answer likely will be different for different groups. “Every group decides for itself what it wants to be and do,” said Tiffany Wilhelm, project officer with the Opportunity Fund, a foundation in Pittsburgh based in arts and economic justice. “Racial affinity groups can be a place for learning, strategy and action.”Pippi Kessler, an organizational psychologist and leadership coach in Cummington, Mass., notes, “The work of caucuses is ultimately to figure out how to work in multiracial teams. Caucus groups are not twins. We have separate work to do.” A caucus space can lead to real, concrete change in organizations because there is a direct conduit between what a POC group wants from the organization and the steps company leadership, which is traditionally white, …

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