Friday, August 31, 2012

TV Tie-In: managing older workers
Originally Published: August 31st, 2012

HRM Online"Between the aging population and the skills shortage, the role of workers over 55 has become more and more important. As many return to work or plan to continue working past 65, it’s an untapped talent pool for some employers.

“Any employer that doesn’t tap into that resource is missing a huge opportunity,” Timothy Holden, from Toronto Training and HR, said. Holden said some employers once favoured  younger workers in the theory they would be more engaged and enthusiastic, which was not always true.

There were also disadvantages, such as a less experienced workforce, as well as a higher turnover rate.

“The make-up of our workforce is very different than it was in the past, and that mirrors our customer base. We have a multi-generational and diverse workforce, and we have an equally diverse customer base,” BMO chief talent officer Lynn Roger said. “I think it’s finding the right balance between the generations and having managers trained in managing a diverse workforce.”

BMO Financial Group offers “people care” days, when staff can take time to care for relatives, and not only children, so Baby Boomers can care for elderly or ill parents.

In the past there have been distinct differences between younger workers, who were often focused on buying homes and caring for their children, while mature workers were preparing for retirement. That changed as people had children later in life, remarried and combined families or any number of other possibilities, Roger said.

Both experts stress that the needs of the mature worker aren’t that different to the needs of everyone else, and the steps that will support older workers will also help the rest of the workforce.

“It’s the variety of the assistance that we have and the focus on enabling the individual to give work their all because they have the supports allowing them to live their life and care for their families,” Roger said.

A key difference that mature workers may appreciate was the ability to transition smoothly and slowly into retirement by working part-time and taking on a mentoring role with upcoming employees.

“Individuals want to work longer and they’re fully engaged and committed. Why wouldn’t we want to benefit from that?” Roger added."

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Former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario says Redskins name racist, calls for education
by Graham Lanktree
Originally Published: August 30th, 2012

"It’s high time names like “redskin” were kicked into the dustbin of history, said Former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, James Bartleman, Thursday.

“I remember growing up as a Native boy in the Ontario of the 1940s and being called a dirty redskin by the other kids at school,” he said in a letter to Metro. “Being on the receiving end, I never forgot the slur.”

Bartleman, a member of the Chipewa First Nation, said he wanted to support fellow Ojibwa Ian Campeau, a musician who has launched a campaign to get the Nepean Redskins football team to change their name.

As the province’s 27th Lieutenant Governor, Bartleman said that he was often called to the  funerals of Native youth who had committed suicide in northern Ontario to sit in healing circles with their families.

“When I sat with the families, the big impact, they said, is the lack of self-esteem of the young people who believe they are not wanted in Canada and looked on as non-people.”
Suicide rates among First Nations and Inuit youth are five to seven times higher than for non-Aboriginals, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention says.

Still, others don’t have a problem with the name. “I have never had a problem with the redskins team name or logo or various other big league teams names it is more of an honour it depicts the strength of native warriors,” wrote Ojibwa Hunter Bisschops in another email. “I have also spoken with this with my dad and brother neither have a problem with it.”
The kids, parents and officials on the football team are good people, said Bartleman, “but they don’t realize how deeply offensive it is to Native people.”

Yet forcing the team to change the name is not the answer, he said. “Prescriptive things will never work. I think that education is the way forward. They have to know the suffering they cause.”

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Hispanics Are Now the Largest Minority in College
by  Ryan Lytle
Originally Published: August 31st, 2012

While college enrollment numbers of Hispanic students have increased, graduation rates are still low."A new study shows that Hispanic college enrollment reached new highs in 2011.

For the first time in history, enrollments at four-year colleges for Hispanic students between 18 and 24 topped 2 million in 2011. Hispanics are now the largest minority on college campuses, making up roughly 16.5 percent of all U.S. college students, according to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center that used newly available U.S. Census Bureau data. Hispanics are also making strides in two-year colleges, according to the study, making up roughly one quarter of all 18-to-24-year-old students.

"The new milestones reflect a number of continuing upward trends," the study's authors write. "Between 1972 and 2011, the Latino share of 18- to 24-year-old college students [in four-year colleges] steadily grew—rising from 2.9% to 16.5%."

This growth in Hispanic college enrollment has also translated to a growth in the number of degrees earned. A record 140,000 Latinos earned a bachelor's degree in 2010, while 112,000 Latinos earned an associate degree, also a record-setting number, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

These rapid increases in enrollment and degrees earned may have been influenced by the "rapid Latino population growth … over the past four decades," according to the study's authors. In fact, along with being the largest minority on college campuses, Hispanics are also the largest minority group in the United States, making up roughly 16.5 percent of the country's population, according to the most recent census data.

But this population growth is also paired with the fact that more Hispanics than ever before in the United States are eligible to attend college. In 2011, according to the study, 76 percent of Hispanics between the ages of 18 and 24 finished high school—the highest completion percentage in history.

Unfortunately, the percentage increase in high school completion rate does not strongly translate to a higher completion rate at four-year colleges. In 2010, only 9 percent of Hispanics enrolled in a four-year college or university earned a bachelor's degree, compared to 10 percent of black students and 71 percent of white students who earned their bachelor's degrees that year."

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When It Comes to Children and the Immigration Debate, Words Matter 
by Mónica L. Novoa
Originally Published: August 31st, 2012

"In the past month’s coverage of what U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services calls, “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” headlines nationwide have often included the i-word. From NPR: “Young Illegal Immigrants Seek To Avoid Deportation” to Fox News: “US launches new program allowing young illegal immigrants to stay” to the New York Times: “Illegal Immigrants Line Up by Thousands for Deportation Deferrals.” Young DREAM Act and immigrant rights organizers have been raising their voices about how offensive and hurtful the “illegal” label is and how painful the language was for them growing up. That the i-word impacts children and young adults as they develop is enough reason for journalists to drop it. No child is “illegal” and no child should grow up thinking that it’s okay for anyone to be described that way. People that have shaped the campaign to Drop the I-Word and have shared their stories experience “illegal” as a racially-charged slur. In this fight, that means everything. The i-word, like other harmful language, makes the village that’s supposed to be raising the child feel really unsafe. 

In 1984, I was in Mrs. Farmer’s kindergarten class at Menlo Avenue Elementary School in South LA, when papí came and pulled me out of Spanish hour. I had been put on the English as a Second Language track and he appreciated the thought, but as an educator, the Spanish hour wasn’t up to his pedagogical expectations. As a father, he didn’t like my sadness over being in the group excluded (in the same classroom) from story hour with the Disney read-along books that came with the little vinyl records that had the pretty chime sound to mark where the teacher was to turn the pages. And with the songs that everybody else but our little grupito was gonna learn.

Since that was a wrap, we took several trips to a Spanish bookstore three and a half hours away across the border in a mall in Tijuana so papí could get books to read to my brothers and I. My favorite book of all time, Saint-Exupéry’s El Principito, came from that bookstore. Tijuana is also where I got my fresh I’m-not-from-here gear for school: poofy dresses and shiny patent leather mary janes that were really code for, we just got here, that is the special occasion. So I had my Spanish cuadernos and lessons at home and my wardrobe was some days casual and on-trend, some days really awkward and Sunday-like. 

The next year in first grade I’d watch the kids with the Spanish lessons leave to another room in the morning, wondering about what fun they had, maybe singing “De Colores.” They’d join our mixed first and second grade class again after lunch. As the days passed, this one kid must have started noticing differences in accents or maybe even all the poofy dresses. And something uglier must have happened outside of our classroom that brought the little brown-skinned second grader to welcome back the Spanish lesson kids with, “It’s the wetbacks!” My stomach sunk. A bunch of kids started laughing. I knew it wasn’t good. I knew it meant our Spanish and poofy dresses and patent leather were somehow becoming less-than to the other kids. 

I don’t remember how the teacher handled it. After that ugly, confusing and humiliating word was uttered, I remember asking if I could just put my head down because I didn’t feel well. I went home early that day. It’s been years since I’d thought of that day. As I write, I think about how the little boy came to use that word and about how children now, are being hurt by the i-word

A recent study, “How Today’s Immigration Enforcement Policies Impact Children, Families, and Communities,” by the Center for American Progress looked at the impact of English-language media on child development. According to the report, children conflate the police with immigration, they feel sad about what it is to be an immigrant and they “also begin to view immigration as equivalent to illegal.” That’s how children are making sense of the i-word. It’s heartbreaking. 

We still need more research about the i-word’s impact on child development, but what we know is enough for journalists and everyday people to stop using the language. Over the weekend, New York Times reporter Julia Preston described 6-year-old Juan David Gonzalez as an “illegal border crosser,” elsewhere in the article she manages to describe his situation well, without using the superfluous i-word. In the same important article, shedding a light on the plight of children having to go to immigration court without legal representation, she mentions the halt in deportations of “illegal immigrant students.” #Fail.

The wide use of the i-word by writers across all types of media has amounted to its acceptance and normalization, but that’s not sufficient justification to keep it around. Children pick up on cues and the meanings attached to people and groups very early through verbal slurs, ethnic jokes they may overhear, or acts of hate/discrimination they may be exposed to. A child’s environment, media, and the people in it help develop the child’s values, beliefs, and understanding of where they and others fit in the world. Research on implicit bias, “hidden, or automatic, stereotypes and prejudices that circumvent conscious control,” has shown that children can acquire negative associations with stigmatized groups based on media sources even when parents create an environment full of positive connections. 

The images and language immigrant children and children of immigrants are exposed to are tied to a set of policies driven by enforcement, resulting in mass family separation. Journalists have to report these stories and the complexities of immigration in the United States, and while across the country people do not all agree on solutions, the least everyone can agree on, is that if this language is hurting how children see themselves and other people, surely we can use other language available to us. 

Decades after Mrs. Farmer’s kindergarden class, I am still wearing poofy dresses and shiny shoes and reading The Little Prince in Spanish. But I’m not putting my head down or going home early. Discarding the i-word is some of our most important work, especially because it impacts how children see themselves and how they treat one another. It’s 2012, and in the U.S. kids are going through childhood afraid that their parents are in danger of being deported or taken away for being “illegal.” Other children are internalizing the message that dreaming is not for them, or that classifying people and assigning different values is okay. Our future is at stake. This can’t continue. 

Please sign the pledge to Drop the I-Word at and if you see a news outlet use it, call them out on it. One more thing. At the Applied Research Center’s Facing Race Conference this November 15-17 in Baltimore, I’ll be moderating a panel on the language of bullying where we’ll hear from young people working on campaigns to defeat language that is anti-woman, anti-immigrant and anti-lgbt. Join us."

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Was That Workplace Discrimination or Am I Just Too Sensitive?
by  Rebecca Wilhoit
Originally Published: August 31st, 2012

Workplace Discrimination "There is a lot of attention being paid to our increasingly diverse workplace. There are all types of differences including race, gender, generations and thinking styles, just to name a few. LTAW’s focus this month is on some of the key diversity dimensions and how to navigate them for greater productivity and engagement.

Workplace discrimination against employees based on race, gender or sexual orientation costs businesses an estimated $64 billion annually, a recent report from the Center For American Progress finds.  In 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that overall discrimination charges were up slightly from the previous year from 99,922 to 99,947. In terms of the volume of charges by protected class groups, the number for race were one of the highest percentages.

There are blatant forms of  discrimination that have required several workplace laws to be put into place, and then there are more subtle forms that are more challenging and harder to detect.  That’s a miscue that often leaves the discriminated feeling silly for being hurt, and the over-sensitive grasping for straws of how they’ve been wronged.

One way to start dissecting a potential discrimination situation is by asking two questions about the incident or incidents:
  • Objectively, would the action or occurrence offend any reasonable person in the same position?
  • Subjectively, (if you were the target) were you personally offended?
With those questions in mind, it’s beneficial to look at each situation as its own unique set of circumstances, personalities, dynamics, and backgrounds. When true individualism is accounted for and blanket judgments are cast aside, discrimination can be more easily identified and combatted. To determine if your feelings are legitimate of if you are just in fact being too sensitive, take these steps:
  • First ask yourself why.  Do some introspection.  Are these feelings valid, or is it coming from another place?  Maybe you are harboring some baggage from past feelings and situations.
  • Educate. Talk to the accused in a calm manner, using “I” language so as not to put them on the defensive.  Tell them how their actions or words made you feel.  Often the behavior was not intended and people appreciate knowing how what they said or did can be interpreted in an offensive manner.
  • Describe – Intepret –Navigate.  If the issue must escalate to your manager or even HR, make sure you talk about behaviors first, then your interpretation of those behaviors.  In other words stick to the facts.  When describing the behavior use only measurable, observable facts when reviewing what has happened (e.g. What do you mean when you say he/she discriminated?).  When interpreting the situation evaluate it from each culture’s perspective, and be very careful to separate out personal judgments (e.g. What do you think he/she was thinking when they said that?).  Your manager or HR representative should help you navigate through the situation, ensuring that they take the different interpretations into account in their approach.
Discrimination in the workplace leads to more than just a bad day. It takes a toll on the physical, mental and emotional well-being of employees.  By going through the steps above, you can begin to weed out the real seeds of discrimination and hopefully heal the dynamic within your workplace – or at the very least, clear out the troublemakers to make room for a productive and fair new addition to your team.

Value differences! Live inclusively!"

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Passing the Torch of Leadership
by Odunola Ojewumi
Originally Published: August 30th, 2012

homepage"This summer, The National Conference of College Women Students (NCCWSL) brought 600 college women from across the United States together for the common purpose of passing on the torch of leadership from one generation the next. This conference provided participants the agency to discuss contemporary issues affecting women across a wide spectrum. NCCWSL is working to create a next generation of leaders through empowerment worships and by equipping women with leadership skills to take back to their universities and colleges. NCCWSL is a collaborative initiative created by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and the American Association of University Women to provide women the opportunity to share a unified voice in shaping their own academic and leadership potential.

This conference served as an occasion for students to meet dynamic leaders in the fields of journalism, activism, science, engineering, and policy. NCCWSL paid tribute to women trailblazer, within these respective fields, through the Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony. The women honored included cartoonist and writer Liz Donnelly, entrepreneur Alison Cohen, activist Noorjahan Akbar, women's advocate Sandra Fluke, political strategist Maggie Williams, and journalist Michel Martin. As these honorees spoke about the challenges they overcame to reach success, the participants of the conference were reminded that the struggle for equality did not end with them and that college students must continue to fight for an equal place within society. 

Fluke reminded the audience to, "There's the educational privilege that I have and that all of us in this room have... Just by virtue of being women that have had the opportunity to go to college. We have gained skills and tools that a lot of other women do not have the tools to access." These statements summarize the greater essence of the work of AAUW and NASPA in offering this conference -- to remind this generation of students that their education equips them with a rare opportunity to serve as leader. 

In 2011, I had the opportunity to attend NCCWSL through a scholarship from my university. I stood inspired by speakers including veteran journalist Connie Chung and former ambassador Swanee Hunt. As these leaders spoke about paving the way for women like me, I knew I had to join in passing the torch of leadership to the next generation. I wanted to join in AAUW's fight to increase women's leadership. During the conference, I learned about AAUW's Student Advisory Council (SAC) -- an extension of AAUW in which student leaders can serve as ambassadors in AAUW's mission to increase women's involvement in student government, combat discrimination in higher education and in the workplace. 

As a member of SAC, I received the opportunity to serve as an advocate for women's equality and meet powerful college women student leaders from across the country. During the conference, I felt as though I was staring the eyes of the next Condoleezza Rice or Sonia Sotomayor. 

As I turn on the television to tune into the news, I see powerful examples of female leadership. When I see Secretary of State Hilary Clinton or First Lady Michelle Obama, I stand in awe of their willingness to break the glass ceiling for generations of women to come.

Unfortunately, these women stand as a small number of those who have been able to surpass these barriers to achieve perceived levels of equality. We are living in a country in which women represent more than fifty percent of the population but our rights are viewed as special interest issue. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, women comprise 16.8 percent of the 112th United States Congress. According to Forbes magazine, only 2.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies were headed by female CEOs. These strikingly low numbers are not representative of our country's demographics. As a result, we need more women leaders leading the charge for further inclusion and lessened discrimination. The American AAUW and NASPA are heading this call to action through their sponsorship of NCCWSL. 

This collective of student leaders gathered at NCCWSL to express a desire to leader both in and outside of the classroom. Though the voices of women leaders often silenced by inequality, NCCWSL is fostering an environment for college women to thrive in the face of extreme adversity. Investing in the future college women creates the next generation of leaders."

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Microsoft supporting LGBT gaming convention
by Eddie Makuch
Originally Published: August 31st, 2012
"Xbox Live team launches video praising next summer's Kickstarter-funded convention Gaymercon.

Next summer's LGBT gaming and geek lifestyle convention Gaymercon has drawn the support of one of the largest players in the industry: Microsoft. Xbox Live developers have launched a video (embedded below), showing why its employees are looking forward to the convention. 

Gaymercon is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign. With just over a day to go, the fund has rocketed past its $25,000 original target, amassing over $76,000 from more than 1,300 backers. The convention will take place August 3-4, 2013 in San Francisco, California and is open to the public.
According to its Kickstarter page description, Gaymercon aims to dispel stereotypes and provide a safe place for gamers of all sizes, genders, races, and sexual identities. 

“At Microsoft we value the ideas and leadership of all of our employees and believe an inclusive and diverse community is important to a thriving Xbox Live," a Microsoft spokesperson told GameSpot. "This video was an employee-driven effort to show support of GaymerCon’s Kickstarter campaign and had the full support of Xbox Live leadership.” 

Microsoft has previously handled LGBT members of its online communities with some controversy. In 2009, Microsoft banned a gamer for self-identifying as a lesbian on Xbox Live. Microsoft later apologized, characterizing its own policies as "inelegant.""

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"Any disabilities? If yes, please elaborate"
Originally Published: August 30th, 2012

Home"The question is not a hard one, when all's said and done. No harder than name, age, address, criminal convictions or any of the fields which form the mainstay of your average application form. 

Nevertheless, 'any disabilities?' is a phrase capable of rendering me wordless, not to mention the 'if yes, please elaborate' that follows it. I pride myself on being open about the way I experience mental health but I can't pretend it doesn't feel like a bit of a thankless task when faced with the fear that this same openness could be so very detrimental to my future.

I think the reasons for the initial recoil which accompanies admission of mental health issues are manifold.

"There are no clearly drawn parameters to depression "

Firstly, depression (not dissimilar to many other disabilities I might add) is a word covering a wide spectrum of emotions, thoughts and deeds. There are no clearly drawn parameters to depression - everyone's experience of it is different. This, I imagine, makes it slightly more complex to cater for depression as a disability. The best treatment for one person may well completely backfire on another. There are no talking books, wheelchair ramps or braille to assuage these situations - just a turbulent, unpredictable volcano of emotion which can so feasibly erupt at any given moment.

Secondly, the use of the word disability in conjunction with depression is a contentious one - it sounds ridiculous to talk in terms of a hierarchy of disability but if that is the overriding principle, depression is pretty low down on the pecking order. I'd hazard a guess it's an issue of how much 'control' I'm perceived to have.

"people frequently tell me that depression is just a matter of 'thinking more cheerfully'"

Even in 2012, people frequently tell me that depression is just a matter of 'thinking more cheerfully' or even, the manic depressive's bete noir, just to 'cheer up'. If we consider this in terms of telling a blind person just to 'look harder' or a deaf person to 'listen more carefully'... well, then we expose the latent hypocrisy here. I can no more control my depression than a wheelchair-bound multiple sclerosis sufferer can decide to start walking. I can minimise its effects, dull the pain, and carry on living but some ties are inherently un-severable. So to quibble my use of the term disability seems at best pedantic, at worst, ignorant.

As far as I'm concerned this quagmire which has become inherent in what should be a fairly straight forward application process is the result of people not communicating effectively or enough. The shame which is still so prevalent means not only that sufferers are unwilling to disclose the details of their illness but that non-sufferers are unaware of what depression, at the most basic level, really is.

"So sufferers... employers or course providers are not afraid to ask to help"

Time to Change, by encouraging the mainstream discussion of depression, could circumvent this. So sufferers are not afraid to ask for help and employers or course providers are not afraid to ask to help. If an employer was seen to discriminate on grounds of race, he would, rightly, be blacklisted, prosecuted and condemned. It is time that the same standards were seen to be evident in conjunction with mental health. It's definitely Time to Change."
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StatsCan recommends more mandatory questions in traditional census 
by Jennifer Ditchburn
Originally Published: August 31st, 2012

Signage marks the Statistics Canada officies in Ottawa on Wednesday July 21, 2010. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)"The federal government really has no choice but to stick with a traditional-style census for 2016, but ought to give careful thought to which questions Canadians should be required to answer and which should be voluntary, Statistics Canada says.

A new report that analyzes different options for the census also underlines that the agency still doesn’t know the full impact of the controversial decision to replace last year’s mandatory long-form questionnaire with a voluntary survey.

The lengthy analysis is the product of a review that was launched after the Conservatives decided in 2010 to scrap the long-form portion of the survey. The short census remains mandatory.

Questions were raised at the time about whether Canada should adopt another kind of census — a population register, for instance, which is the approach many European countries use.

The agency concluded in the report that Canada simply doesn’t have the time, resources, or possibly even the appetite to participate in a different style of census.

A population register would involve the central collection and storage of massive amounts of personal data, and the introduction of identity cards or numbers — an idea rejected by Canadian privacy commissioners.

A rolling census, such as those conducted in the United States and France, would involve sending surveys to a smaller number of households on an ongoing basis. Statistics Canada says it’s already too late to get such a complex system off the ground for 2016 — and there would be no money for it in any event.

Besides, says the agency, Canadians respond well to the traditional census — 98.1 per cent filled out their mandatory short-form survey last year.

“Research to date has indicated that unless there are significant changes to the Canadian context, many of the issues surrounding the alternative approaches will remain for 2021 and beyond,” the report concludes.

But Canada’s traditional census still has its share of issues, too.

The new National Household Survey was filled out by just 69.3 per cent of Canadians — a far cry from the 93.5 per cent who filled out the long-form survey when it was still mandatory in 2006.

Statistics Canada is worried about something called “response bias,” where the data is skewed because certain groups of people don’t fill out the forms. That makes it tougher to get a reliable picture of the population’s characteristics — in smaller areas in particular.
“Are we totally off, slightly off, right on? That would be difficult to determine,” said Marc Hamel, manager of the census program at Statistics Canada.

“If there were things that were severely out of the norm from the conclusions that we would draw from the NHS, we would have to consider the possibility of not releasing a variable, for example. We’re not there yet.”

There might be a hint of bias already: 13.7 per cent of those who filled out their census by Internet refused to complete the NHS, while the non-response rate was 48.2 per cent for those who used the mail, possibly suggesting a bias related to socio-economic factors.
Statisticians can sort out some of that bias by looking at other, more reliable numbers and using those as benchmarks to adjust their weighting — but the trouble is they don’t have many benchmarks to go on.

“There’s a very serious issue because there are relatively few questions on the short-form census, so we don’t know much about how people differ who filled out the NHS and those who didn’t,” said Ian McKinnon of the National Statistics Council.

That’s where the importance of the 2016 census questions come in.

Statistics Canada wants to take a long, hard look at whether more questions could be put into the mandatory short-form census, or perhaps whether a mid-length, mandatory census could be sent to some households. Such an approach would, in theory, result in more solid data that could be used to buttress the weaker NHS.

The agency also wants the process of selecting the questions to be more transparent. The government did not consult with various data users or even the National Statistics Council when it eliminated the long-form census.

“Where to draw the line between mandatory and non-mandatory is, I think, the fundamental question,” said Mr. McKinnon.

Ultimately, it will be up to the federal cabinet to decide which questions go into the census."

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Wellness Integrate with D&I
by Robert Polk
Originally Published: August 31st, 2012

Diversity Journal"When our company embarked on an employee engagement initiative, our business sector sought to develop a broader, more holistic approach to the engagement model. We recently implemented a new strategic approach to our Wellness programs that held the premise that an emphasis on employee health boosts morale and enhances performance, decision making, creativity and innovation. As an information systems and technology company, this was critical for us. At the same time, reducing health care costs would allow us to reinvest in both our business and our people, strengthening our performance culture.

With over 20,000 employees to engage, we saw the opportunity to create a strong synergy with Wellness and our D&I initiatives to leverage the great talent of that team. We ensured our Wellness programs were designed to promote inclusiveness across gender and cultural issues. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) actively helped our wellness team identify topics and activities of broad interest and often helped provide planning support and logistics. Our activities evolved to be as broadly inclusive as possible, culturally appropriate, and integrated with the diverse comprehensiveness of our employees. These activities met many unique needs.

Successful Wellness programs integrate with D&I by forming collaborations between our leadership and employees, lowering the barriers to participation, and significantly increasing engagement. A large employee base is efficiently included by leveraging the support and enthusiasm of ERGs, since they are a key component of our D&I framework. As we move forward this year with a long range Wellness plan, our activities will begin to reflect more green and sustainable concepts associated with health and fitness which our employees, across our diverse representation, have expressed enthusiasm about. We are also exploring aspects of wellness that support the company’s philanthropic goals, such as walks to raise donations for health issues."

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

REPORT: Majority Of LGBT Public Sector Workers Lack Employment Protections
Originally Published: August 30th, 2012

"Our guest blogger is Hilary Brandenburg, intern at the Center for American Progress.

This weekend, Americans will take a day off from work to celebrate Labor Day, a day dedicated to the progress Americans have achieved in the workplace over the years. The U.S. Department of Labor website notes that Labor Day is a “yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” However, not all workers are equal under the law. LGBT workers continue to face high rates of workplace discrimination and often receive unequal benefits for equal work for them and their families.
Knowing this, the Center for American Progress and AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union, released a report entitled “Gay and Transgender Discrimination in the Public Sector: Why It’s a Problem for State and Local Governments, Employees, and Taxpayers.”

According to this report, a majority of state government employees are currently working in states that fail to offer legal protections to LGBT public sector workers. With approximately one million LGBT individuals in America working in state, local, or municipal government, only 21 states and the District of Columbia have any laws specifically protecting gay workers, and only 16 of those do so for transgender workers. Looking at coverage:
  • 57 percent of state employees work in a state where no legal protections are afforded to gay individuals.
  • 69 percent live in state where no legal protections are afforded to transgender individuals.
  • Only a minority of state employees (just over four in ten, or 42.6 percent) work in a state with a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • Only three in ten (31.8 percent) work in a state with a law also prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
Similarly, CAP and AFSCME find that a majority (53 percent) of state government employees do not have equal access to health insurance for them and their partners.

Discrimination and unequal treatment are unfortunate realities for far too many of our nation’s LGBT public sector workers. This is harmful to LGBT workers who all too often find themselves without a job or a way to make ends meet due to employment discrimination. This is harmful to running an efficient public sector, since discrimination imposes costs and inefficiencies for governments. And it is harmful to taxpayers, who are left with the bill to cover these costs.

Among many policy recommendations, this report calls on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, EDNA, making discrimination against a worker based on their sexual orientation or gender identity a crime in all 50 states. States should similarly pass laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers and laws the extend the full range of workplace benefits to employees with same-sex partners.

LGBT public servants go to work every day as firefighters, teachers, policemen and women, nurses, library workers, child care providers, and sanitation workers to provide for our communities, to help care for our children and families, and to keep America functioning. 
This Labor Day, we must continue to fight for progress and demand better for LGBT employees, taxpayers, and our public sector."

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How to Keep Your Employees Happy
by Angela Stringfellow
Originally Published: August 30th, 2012

"In an effort to boost morale, an engineering company had the great idea to ask its employees for suggestions. Any suggestion that was used was eligible for a $25 to $50 reward, and any suggestions that saved the company big dollars earned the contributor a  percentage of the savings.

Savvy employees jumped on board. Some efficient engineers realized quickly that they could make substantial money suggesting cost-saving improvements. It was soon recognized that some were making more from their suggestions than from their weekly salaries. Production began to decline as focus was placed on creating the best recommendations instead of day-to-day operations.

It wasn’t long before corporate officials put a kibosh to the lucrative suggestions, capping them at $100. 

Satisfaction in Recognition

Employee perks and programs designed to boost morale are nothing new. But, it’s inevitable that some of those plans will backfire, doing nothing more than becoming an inside joke among the employees. Or worse yet, they unintentionally lower morale and work productivity.

But, recognition is a vital component of human resources. Engaging with employees and recognizing their efforts often leads to job satisfaction and higher levels of productivity. Balancing the good and the bad becomes a critical task.

According to the Spring 2012 Workforce Mood tracker conducted by Globoforce, 81 percent of employees say receiving recognition made them more satisfied with their work and position in a company. This trend continues to increase, rising from just 73 percent in the fall of 2011.

The converse is also true. Only 17 percent of those who have never been recognized feel appreciated at their job and only 37 percent admit to “loving” their job.

Recruitment and retention continue to be top priority for HR executives. Globoforce’s survey points to a correlation between lack of recognition and turnover, 51 percent of employees who have never been recognized are actively seeking new employment. Similarly 55 percent of employees would leave their jobs for a company that clearly recognized its employees for their efforts.

But with a multitude of recognition programs available, how do you ensure you’re motivating your employees in the right manner? We all know the almighty dollar pays off, but most small businesses can’t afford to give their employees large bonuses several times a year.

Affordable Morale Boosters

According to Autumn Manning, VP of YouEarnedIt, an employee reward tool, allowing your workers to take part in creating and driving the recognition programs is a great way to increase engagement and participation. “The majority of programs out there are pushed from the top down, allowing all the power to rest with management. Putting the reason for the recognition in the hands of your employees gives them ownership of the behaviors they feel drives the business,” she explained.

There are a lot of recognition programs that are both effective, budget friendly and get the employees engaged.

Susan Sweenie, director of business operations for Perkett PR, a virtual PR and social media firm, has watched as her company has created a culture that recognizes its employees both with tangible and intangible benefits.

Monthly, the employees at Perkett nominate and vote for an MVP who exemplifies their mission. This person is not only rewarded with a gift card, but their actions are talked about by the team, helping to encourage others to live and lead by their example.

Sweenie also said that the overall culture of Perkett PR is built upon the foundation of the team and recognizing the team’s role is vital to employee satisfaction. With this philosophy no one is ever left out and the result is a product of collaboration and a “can do” attitude.
Flexibility As a Perk

Job flexibility is another leading perk that employers should consider when working to improve job satisfaction and employee morale. According to Brie Reynolds, director of content and social media at FlexJobs, 98 percent of respondents to a FlexJobs’survey believe telecommuting would improve or maintain their productivity compared to being in an office.

The survey pointed to several key benefits to flexible job opportunities. Respondents believe flexible jobs would:
  • Save employees money
  • Save employees time
  • Be more healthy
  • Be less stressful
  • Decrease distractions including those created by colleagues and office politics
  • Reduce the stress of commuting
“Because flexible work programs have little cost associated with them, and can improve employee satisfaction, reduce turnover and increase productivity, we think evidence like this further solidifies the need for perks like flexible job options in the workplace,” concluded Reynolds."

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Workforce 2020: A Kaleidoscope of Complexity
by Mary F. Winters
Originally Published: August 30th, 2012

"I was honored to be asked for the second consecutive year to speak at The National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR) Conference held this week in Chicago. I was asked to speak on workforce 2020 issues.  As I updated some earlier work I had done on the topic, I realized that the issues are rapidly becoming more interconnected and more complex.  And I also recognize that the issues are in many ways paradoxical.

Paradox 1: Rapidly advancing technology simplifies our work and at the same time makes it more complex. All of the technology tools from those that manage projects to those that manage our careers increase productivity, and creativity. However, the complexity comes in because you have so many different choices and ways to interconnect the learning curve can be mind-boggling.

Paradox 2: Social scientists claim that social media networking will make issues of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, etc, non-issues because there will be less face-to-face contact. The belief is that this will level the playing field. The paradox is that there is more opportunity to express prejudice and exclusion anonymously. We already see this playing out in cyberspace.  The issues of intolerance of difference are ever more present with new venues in which to express them.

Paradox 3: We have high unemployment rates around the world, especially among our youth. However, there are millions of jobs that are going unfilled because of a skills shortage in emerging technical fields. The skills gap issue is especially prominent among youth of color.

Paradox 4: By 2020, 39 percent of the workforce in the US will be comprised of Latinos, African Americans, Asians and other minorities. The paradox is that more that half of these workers will not have the skills for the jobs.

Paradox 5: Women make up half of the world’s population and 70 percent of those who live in poverty. Leading economists say that until we level the economic playing field for women, the world economy will continue to be sub-optimized.

Paradox 6: While we are emphasizing the need for technical skills, there is an equally critical need for those with emotional intelligence.  The need for people who have a high level of self-awareness, can self manage and can lead with empathy, and compassion will be just as important as the technical skills.  It is not an either or proposition, rather a “both and”.   The two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

Paradox 7: We must operate globally and locally at the same time.   We might call this “global” thinking.  It will be necessary for workers to understand world issues as we work globally around the sun while at the same time attending to the concerns of our local communities.

Paradox 8: We will be younger and older in the workforce.  In the next ten years there will be 5 generations working side by side.  Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) will outnumber baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) in the workplace.  Gen Z (born after 2000) will join the workforce.  However, boomers and traditionalists (born before 1946) will be working longer than any of us thought because of economic necessity and longer life spans.  The generations have had very different life influences and therefore their attitudes and motivations about work are very different.

The Inclusion Solution is to begin to recognize the collision of ideas and trends that are seemingly paradoxical but must be tackled simultaneously.  We must become systems thinkers, able to see the interconnections and complex relationships that are shaping the new world order."

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News Flash: A Woman’s Brain is Two Brains
by Dr. Anne Perschel
Originally Published: August 30th, 2012

"How do I know this?

Let me explain.

Todd Akin, is a Missouri (pronounced miz oor ah) congressman, who is running for U.S. senate. He claims that when a woman is “legitimately” raped, a statement he later changed to “forcibly” raped, her uterus knows and reacts with a commanding “There will be no pregnancy here”.  And so it is that women in this predicament do not become pregnant. The logical conclusion to be drawn from Mr. Akin’s logic (as opposed to his illogic) is that the uterus can think. It distinguishes between various types of rape (I must admit to my own beliefs that all rape is, by definition, forced). The uterine brain, according to Mr. Akin, makes decisions about what to do in such circumstances, and orders the body to respond. 

Complex capabilities such as the one’s the uterine brain commands, are associated with the prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of the most sophisticated and complex brain functions. So, not only does the uterus have a brain, it is a very good one. It is from Mr. Akin’s logic, that I know a woman’s brain is, in fact, two brains. She has one brain in her head and another in her uterus. Do you follow?

A Woman’s Brain in Use

This woman, the one writing this post, is using her woman’s brain, or one of them, to review the facts about pregnancies resulting from rape. Then she moves on, or back, to medieval times for the origin of T.A.’s thinking. Finally, she uses her words to hoist a warning sign.
Fact – There are an estimated twenty-five thousand rape-related pregnancies in the United States every year ( F.H. Stewart, M.D., J. Trussell, M.D., American Journal of Preventive Medicine).

Facts – A study of adolescents in Ethiopia found that among those who reported being raped, 17% became pregnant after the rape. Similar figures of 15–18% are reported by rape crisis centres in Mexico.

A Woman’s Brain: A Scary Thing?

While pointing out that T.A.’s statement relies upon medieval beliefs, I am also holding a danger sign. This thinking is based in fear, and it perpetuates fear. Fear of what? Fear of women and the mysterious source of their power. It is the same fear and the same kind of thinking that led to burning witches at the stake.

Let me begin by referencing one source of P.A.’s thinking, a 13th-century English legal tome called Fleta. It asserted that pregnancy was prima facie evidence against a charge of rape, “for without a woman’s consent she could not conceive.”

Such thinking, holds women to be very powerful, and is the basis for many myths and legends. Recall the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah. He was an extremely powerful man in his time. She used the power of seduction to uncover the secret to Samson’s power – his hair. No hair, no power. Out comes the razor, and Samson is literally cut off from his strength. The same seductive powers underlie the story of why Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. A sin that affected all humanity for all time. And of course we have the old phrase about keeping her “barefoot and pregnant,” because of you don’t…

The men who developed and passed on these stories, back in the day, which is where they belong, seem clearly frightened by the loss of power they experienced when faced with their own difficulties resisting women’s sexuality. The fears that feed these stories, and are fed by them, lead to the kind of thinking Todd Akin, and his followers, find appealing. The bottom line is – Women Must Be Controlled. This is why the danger sign is needed, now. This fear based need to control women, is a danger to all women. It is a danger to men as well, because without women, evolution in all areas of human endeavor are limited by the perspective of one gender.

A Woman’s Brain: What to Do

Let’s accept, for now, the premise that a woman’s brain and the perception that she has a mysterious source of power, can be frightening. Furthermore, let’s suppose that in the face of this power, men can be rendered helpless. Well then, what do we do?
  1. Explain the source of your power. Mine? “I listen to the wisdom of the voice that comes knocking. You can hear it too.”
  2. Leave seduction at home. It has no place at work or anywhere else that women need to gain legitimate influence.
  3. Initiate conversations to explore underlying assumptions when you hear reference to this kind of fear based thinking. Adopt a genuine but curious non-judgmental stance.
I think that’s it. That’s all the ideas I have, but I’d be delighted to read yours here, where others can read them as well."

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Employees optimistic about company’s growth prospects, job security: Survey
Originally Published: August 30th, 2012

Canadian HR Reporter"Despite lingering economic uncertainty, Canadians are more optimistic about their company's hiring plans and growth prospects than they were this time last year, according to the annual BMO Bank of Montreal Labour Day Survey

Forty-one per cent of Canadians believe their company is growing and expect it will be hiring this year, up 13 percentage points from 2011. Albertans are the most optimistic with 60 per cent expecting their employer to hire more employees this year, found the survey of 1,000 Canadians.

"Over the past year we have seen an increasing number of companies show a willingness to look at how they can grow their business through making strategic investments in upgrading technology and processes, opening up new markets, and investing in their people," said Cathy Pin, vice-president of BMO Commercial Banking.

By contrast, Atlantic Canadians are the most likely to feel their company will lay off employees (28 per cent). 

Almost two-thirds are comfortable with their job security (up 13 percentage points from 2011). Canadians in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are most comfortable (81 per cent), while workers in Quebec are the most concerned (29 per cent).

"Canadian job security is fairly good, with our 7.3 per cent unemployment rate below historic norms," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Economics. "Canadians should expect wages to rise modestly faster than inflation, supporting household purchasing power, with the strongest gains in Alberta and Saskatchewan.”

Only 22 per cent expect their company will be laying off employees.

The survey also found that four in 10 (39 per cent) Canadians expect to receive a raise or promotion in the next year, an increase of 11 percentage points from this time last year. Workers in Alberta (55 per cent) and the Prairies (54 per cent) are most likely to expect a raise or promotion in the coming year.

By contrast, one in five (22 per cent) feel they are working in a dead-end job and indicate that the company they work for is in no position to provide a promotion, raise or year-end bonus. This number is virtually unchanged from 2011."

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