Do Implicit Attitudes Interfere with Diversity Efforts?

Although many companies recognize the value of a workforce that is diverse and inclusive, and may have intuitive if unexamined ideas about what kinds of variation should be counted in measuring diversity, it isn’t easy to find concise, well-explained discussions of how diversity can be promoted and maintained. In particular, many employers struggle to enhance […]

Navigating Sensitive Conversations

A senior executive exhibits behavior that might indicate substance abuse; an employee coping with side effects of pain medication becomes accusatory and combative; an employee seems not to understand the difference between whistleblowing and insubordination – these situations require a firm, timely, and sensitive response that many managers are ill-prepared to provide. Internal business pressures […]

Supreme Court Establishes New Framework for Pregnancy Accommodation Cases

Employers often have occasion to consider the scope of their responsibility to accommodate pregnancy-related work restrictions, and there have been sharp disagreements over the correct interpretation of federal law on this issue.  On March 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court has clarified the employer’s federal obligations in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., No. 12-1266, […]

Responding to Suspected FMLA Misuse

Suppose an employee requests two weeks of vacation, and the request is denied – perhaps on grounds of seniority or for operational reasons.  You then receive a doctor’s note stating that the employee needs two weeks of medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for precisely the same dates as the earlier […]

Identifying and Removing Disparate Impact

Employers implementing a mass layoff often agonize over the decisions they have to make, not just because of the hardship for employees and the potential impact on the business, but because employees might claim their selection for layoff was discriminatory.  A recent paper published by Michael Feldman, et al., on the website, Certifying and […]

Insight into Employee Promotions and Resignations from the Analysis of Networks

Companies are naturally interested in predicting which of their employees are likely to resign, and which are candidates for advancement within the organization.   A paper recently distributed by researchers on, titled Promotion and Resignation in Employee Networks, suggests that techniques borrowed from the emerging field of network science offer clues about whether promotion or resignation […]

Looking for Patterns in Performance Evaluations

Most employers expect their managers to complete regular performance evaluations for the staff they supervise, which can be used to track employee progress and provide at least a minimal employment history.  An observer could reasonably ask, however, whether companies derive as much benefit from this process as they assume.  A January 9, 2015 online article […]

How Notions of Intelligence Shape Diversity

A study reported in the January 16, 2015 issue of the journal Science explores why certain industries and academic fields struggle to recruit and maintain a diverse workforce.  Although such questions are complex, it appears that disciplines that regard ability as an innate, unteachable talent tend to attract predominantly Caucasian and male candidates, while fields […]

The Effect of a Conversation on Political Views

The stereotypical corporate anti-discrimination policy prevents managers and staff from doing or saying anything that would hint at the existence of race, sex, age, religion, or any other protected categories in the workplace, and discourages discussion of such sensitive issues.  Such restrictions are never codified explicitly in the text of these policies, but many people […]

Lessons for Investigators from Studies of Judicial Decisions

I sometimes train company managers how to investigate claims of discrimination or harassment.  The most thoughtful students, especially if they’ve had some prior experience conducting investigations, eventually present this concern:  What if both sides seem to be telling the truth?  How can I know which way I should decide?  How can I make sure I […]