Do You Know the Value of Diversity?

According to the DOL, “Although the term is often used to refer to differences among individuals such as ethnicity, gender, age and religion, diversity actually encompasses the infinite range of individuals’ unique attributes and experiences.” Dimensions of diversity can also include physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, work experience, job classification, and so much more.

Many of the attributes that make a workforce diverse are covered by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in regards to fair employment practices and procedures. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older) disability or genetic information. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by the EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). The laws apply to all types of work situations including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

While equal opportunity employment focuses on employment practices, the concept of diversity in the work place is much broader and extends to the work environment. In the context of the workplace, valuing diversity means creating a workplace that respects and includes differences, recognizing the unique contributions that individuals make. Workplace diversity values everyone’s differences. It is about learning from each other regardless of our cultural background, and bringing those differences and experiences to broaden our knowledge. Managing diversity focuses on maximizing the ability of all employees to contribute to organizational goals. Affirmative action focuses on specific groups because of historical discrimination, such as people of color and women. Affirmative action emphasizes legal necessity and social responsibility; managing diversity emphasizes business necessity. In short, while managing diversity is also concerned with underrepresentation of women and people of color in the workforce, it is much more inclusive and acknowledges that diversity must work for everyone.

Do you believe in the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated? This assumes that how you want to be treated is how others want to be treated. But what if we consider the diversity in different cultures, etc.? What does respect look like? It may not be the same for everyone. While making eye contact may be the respectful thing to do in one culture, it may be a sign of disrespect in another.

Maybe instead of using the golden rule, we should use the platinum rule which states: “treat others as they want to be treated.” But how do we know what different groups or individuals need? Having a workplace culture of inclusivity allows for those questions to be asked and answered in a respectful atmosphere.

Many people think that “fairness” means “treating everyone the same.” How well does treating everyone the same work for a diverse staff? For example, when employees have limited English language skills or reading proficiency, even though that limit might not affect their ability to do their jobs, transmitting important information through complicated memos might not be an effective way of communicating with them. While distributing such memos to all staff is “treating everyone the same,” this approach may not communicate essential information to everyone. A staff member who missed out on essential information might feel that the communication process was “unfair.” A process that takes account of the diverse levels of English language and reading proficiency among the staff might include taking extra time to be sure that information in an important memorandum is understood. Such efforts on the part of supervisors and managers should be supported and rewarded as good management practices for working with a diverse staff. (University of California at Berkeley)

As this suggests, workplace diversity can provide tremendous benefits in terms of improved morale, outside-the-box thinking, greater teamwork, and an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect.

  • How Well Do You Manage Diversity?
  • Do you test your assumptions before acting on them?
  • Do you believe there is only one right way of doing things, or that there are a number of valid ways that accomplish the same goal? Do you convey that to staff?
  • Do you have honest relationships with each staff member you supervise? Are you comfortable with each of them? Do you know what motivates them, what their goals are, how they like to be recognized?
  • Are you able to give negative feedback to someone who is culturally different from you?
  • When you hire a new employee, do you not only explain job responsibilities and expectations clearly, but orient the person to the department culture and unwritten rules?
  • Do you rigorously examine your existing policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that they do not differentially impact different groups? When they do, do you change them?
  • Are you willing to listen to constructive feedback from your staff about ways to improve the work environment? Do you implement staff suggestions and acknowledge their contribution?
  • Do you take immediate action with people you supervise when they behave in ways that show disrespect for others in the workplace, such as inappropriate jokes and offensive terms?
  • Do you have a good understanding of isms such as racism and sexism and how they manifest themselves in the workplace?
  • Do you ensure that assignments and opportunities for advancement are accessible to everyone?

If you were able to answer yes to more than half the questions, you are on the right track to managing diversity well. (University of California, San Francisco)

If you have questions or concerns regarding either Diversity or the laws and regulations in regards to affirmative action or the EEOC, you won’t want to miss our next Management Training Seminar to be held next week, June 4th, 2015.

Please contact our HR/Client Service Reps at 770-339-0000, for further details and to attend.

Today is National Waiters and Waitresses Day!

A perfect day to remember these guidelines if you are a business owner who employs “Tipped Employees”:

According to IRS Ruling 2012-18, a tip is defined as “(1) payment must be made free from compulsion; (2) the customer must have the unrestricted right to determine the amount; (3) the payment should not be the subject of negotiation or dictated by employer policy; and (4) generally, the customer has the right to determine who receives the payment.

The absence of any of these factors indicates that the payment is a service charge and not a “tip”. These service charges are considered restaurant income; if they are given to the employees, they are then considered wages and not tips.

As they are not tips, but rather wages, restaurants may not count the service charges (automatic %’s) toward the FLSA tip credit, even if they distribute the gratuities to the employees. When employees are serving parties not subject to an automatic service charge along with parties that are subject to an automatic service charge at the same time, it becomes a daunting task to determine what wages to pay the servers as they are performing both tipped and non-tipped duties, and only the tipped duties are eligible for the FLSA tip credit.

If the service charges are distributed to the employees, they become wages and therefore increase an employee’s regular rate of pay and must be factored into any overtime calculations. As if that’s not a big enough headache, restaurants must also remember to report service charges as employee’s wages not as tips on their payroll reports. They should also take these into consideration when completing their Employer’s Annual Information of Tip Income and Allocated Tips form. For income tax purposes, the service charge distributed to employees as wages should be reported as wages on the business tax return.

As you can imagine, this ruling has created a large amount of class actions alleging the improper failure to include service charges, aka mandatory gratuities, into the calculation of employee’s regular rate of pay. The easiest way for restaurants to avoid the above headaches and legal action is to simply eliminate the automatic gratuities, but provide suggested tip amounts.

HR Strategies provides their clients with guidance and assistance with these and other tricky HR matters. To learn more, contact us via the web by clicking here or give us a call today at:


Equal Opportunity

140px-US-EEOC-Seal.svgOn November 19th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, with the significant line of “that all men are created equal”.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated in November of 1957, “Today, when our national strength is being tested at every point, this tradition takes on added urgency. Our nation’s economy can ill afford to waste the talent and abilities of any individual because of discrimination against him on the basis of his race, his color, or his creed. Every citizen who helps to make legal and economic equality a living fact is helping America.

November nineteenth, the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, has been designated Equal Opportunity Day. In Lincoln’s words, “it is altogether fitting and proper” that we should use this day to rededicate ourselves to the firm establishment of equal opportunity for all. Let every citizen of the United States, whether an employer or employee, farmer or businessman, join in the effort to abolish all artificial discrimination which hinders the right of each American to advance in accordance with his merits as a human being and his capacity for productive work.”

On July 2, 1965 the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) was established. The EEOC enforces federal laws that make discrimination against a job applicant or an employee, because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information, illegal. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

Just as with any Federal or State Laws, new regulations and rulings are continuously being announced. HR Strategies is here to keep pace with changing governmental requirements that affect your business and help you stay compliant. By relieving your stress of whether or not you are in compliance, we give you the ability to focus on the aspects of your company for which you went into business, while we handle the behind the scenes issue of compliance. Be sure to join us for our next Management Training Seminar on June 4th, 2015; when we will be discussing the latest in regards to the EEOC and how it affects every employer.

Contact Us Today or

Give us a Call at 770-339-0000

Management Training Series on June 4th, 2015

HR Strategies, a Human Resource firm, continues to boost and expand their client’s knowledge of important management strategies and business regulations through their Management Training Series.

Furnishing top-notch management training sessions to their clients affords HR Strategies to prepare their client’s for a variety of workplace regulations, as well as to deliver the support needed to foster and promote a sound workplace. HR Strategies has recently announced that their latest training session, to be held on June 4th, 2015, will be presented by Tracie Maurer, an attorney at the prestigious law firm Jackson Lewis LLP, and will cover many facets of the EEOC and how to protect your workplace from the rise in EEOC lawsuits. The specific topics will include: What is happening in legal cases in reference to the EEOC, Types of Claims Won, Age Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, the ADA & the FLSA, How a PEO can help in matters pertaining to the EEOC, and Wage & Hour.

As always the training session is completely free for clients, who can expect to enjoy a top of the line speaker along with a delicious catered lunch compliments of HR Strategies. The Management Training Series proves to be another way that HR Strategies bestows the value of HR outsourcing to their client companies.

Mother’s Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and we want to wish all the Moms out there a belated Happy Mother’s Day!

mothers day

Here is a brief look at some of the laws, protections, and issues surrounding working moms:

  • The Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act of 1996 (the Newborns’ Act), signed into law on September 26, 1996, requires plans that offer maternity coverage to pay for at least a 48-hour hospital stay following childbirth (96-hour stay in the case of a cesarean section).
  • Nearly three-quarters of all mothers are in the labor force. Even among mothers with very young children, more than sixty percent are in the labor force.
  • Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
  • Between 1969 and 1996, the number of working married women with children increased by 84 percent.
  • The FMLA entitles eligible employees to take FMLA leave for the birth of a son or daughter, and to care for the newborn child, and for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care.
  • The mother is entitled to FMLA leave for any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, for prenatal care or for her own serious health condition following the birth of a child.
  • An expectant mother may take FMLA leave before the birth of the child, for prenatal care, or if her condition makes her unable to work.
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