Global diversity news briefs – April 2012
In a recent decision the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ordered the City of Ottawa to pay a fire department employee more than $100,000 to settle a discrimination suit. The department failed to accommodate Marcel Backs who was injured in 2003 in a work-related accident. Backs, a fire prevention officer who also worked as a dispatcher, filed a human rights complaint in February 2008, alleging that his employer had discriminated against him on the basis of a disability. The fire department claimed it could not accommodate Backs “without undue hardship.” The tribunal rejected the department’s arguments.
According to a recent study, Canada ranks 7th in terms of workplace diversity. The report examined 50 nations according to the makeup of the countries’ workers based on a number of factors such as ethnicity, disability, age, gender, country of birth, skills, education, language, work hours, and geographical distribution. 85% of the companies polled “strongly agreed that diversity is a key driver of innovation.” Rankings, in descending order, were: 10. Sweden, 9. United States, 8. Philippines, 7. Canada, 6. Netherlands, 5. Switzerland, 4. Australia, 3. Iceland, 2. New Zealand, and 1. Norway.
The federal government is helping people with disabilities in Moncton develop the skills and experience they need to find jobs. Moncton Employment Training Services Inc. will receive more than $77,000 through the federal Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities. The funding will help 8 people living with an intellectual disability develop the range of work and life skills they need to participate in the job market.
Junior Achievement of Canada is launching a new program focused on diversity in the workplace. Stronger Together: Diversity in Action will showcase the importance of inclusivity in solving real-world challenges, and will encourage students to welcome perspectives different from their own. In announcing the program, Junior Achievement’s Interim President and CEO Stephen Ashworth said, “We are committed to increasing youth’s understanding of the important role diversity plays in enriching our personal and business lives.” The initiative will be available in schools across Canada this fall.
The federal government is now offering a website that showcases foreign qualifications assessment and recognition practices. The International Qualifications Network (IQN) enables registered members to showcase initiatives and events, network with others who have similar goals, gain knowledge about international qualification assessment or recognitions, and provide feedback on others’ initiatives. For more information, click here.
The new chair of Future Fund, the country’s most powerful investment agency, has called on businesses to appoint more women to their boards. ”We need to broaden the base of the people on boards. We obviously need to draw from 100 per cent of the population,” David Gonski said. “I don’t know how we men got away with it for so long. To draw from 49 per cent of the population cannot possibly be as good as choosing the best from the whole 100 per cent.”
The annual GMI Ratings 2012 Women on Boards survey shows a slow incremental increase of women in board seats worldwide to 10.5%, up 0.7 percentage points from last year. Based on an analysis of 4300 in 45 countries, the poll revealed that 60.2% of companies have at least one female director and 9.8% have three or more women on their boards. At the top end of the scale is Norway where boards are 36.3% female. Germany sits at the other end with 12.9%. The countries with the greatest increase since last year are France at 16.6% and Australia at 13.8%. For a complete breakdown, click here.
A new diversity and inclusion quiz has been designed to teach volunteers at the London 2012 Games how to properly respond to “sensitive” issues of sexuality, race, disability, religion and age. For instance, what would you do if you were an Olympics volunteer and a spectator raised an objection to a male couple holding hands at an event? Wrong answers include telling the spectator ‘to stop being a homophobic idiot’. The right answer is: ‘You explain that there is a huge diversity of people at the London 2012 Games, which includes gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals and couples.’ The questions are also printed in a training handbook for the volunteers. To take the quiz, click here.
New research by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School shows that women are better represented on public boards than on the boards of listed companies. As of February 2012, female directors held 19.8% of board positions on Singapore’s public boards, compared to 6.9% on boards of Singapore Exchange-listed companies. Women were also better represented in the role of chair, with 16.9% female chairs on public boards, compared with 2.7% at listed companies. Out of the 65 public boards studied, 3 organizations had at least 50% of their boardrooms made up of female directors while another 11 had none. 83.1% of public boards had at least one female director on their boards.
Women’s groups are up in arms after the Indonesian parliament said it would draft rules to ban female lawmakers from wearing inappropriate attire to work. The House of Representatives claimed that wearing clothing such as miniskirts in the workplace invited rape. Action for Women Against Rape founder Chika Noya said, “It’s ridiculous that this is again coming from the mouths of prominent people with influence.”
According to a new whitepaper, versatility predicts managers’ diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) behaviors. In a study of 143 managers at a multinational defense contractor revealed that managers with high versatility were rated significantly more effective at promoting D&I than managers with lower versatility. The 38-item survey evaluated various aspects of D&I including organizational culture, the effect of D&I on teams and the company, and awareness of and involvement in D&I programs. To read Relationship Between Versatility and Diversity Among Leaders, click here .
FedEx is now offering more benefits for same-sex domestic partners including extended bereavement, relocation and discount shipping policies to include domestic and civil-union partners and same-sex spouses. Its anti-harassment policy now extends to transgender workers. In a memo to staff, the company said: “At FedEx, we make an on-going effort to celebrate the unique nature of each person while recognizing the things we all share. We put diversity to work, in each of our companies and across the world, to help FedEx stand out as a corporate leader.”
Diversity & Inclusion: Unlocking Global Potential—Global Diversity Rankings by Country, Sector and Occupation, released by Forbes Insights, ranks and measures diversity of workforces. The study measured diversity by gender, age and geography. The top 5 diverse sectors were health, hotels and catering, education, business services and other services. Health, education and hotels had the highest rates of female employment, while mining and construction had the lowest proportion of women employees. While there may be many women or ethnic minorities in the hotel and catering sector, for instance, they are likely in lower-ranking jobs such as maids or bellhops. The most mature workforce is the agriculture sector, while the least age-diverse sectors are utilities and mining.
The Producers Guild of America (PGA) is accepting submissions for its 8th annual Power of Diversity Workshop starting May 14 in Los Angeles. The yearly event is designed to foster the development of aspiring producers who bring diverse perspectives to television, film and digital media. Only 10 applicants are selected for the program which will provide them with access to industry talent and mentoring sessions with members of the PGA’s Diversity Committee. For more information or to apply for the workshop, click here.
The mayor of Phoenix, Arizona has hired a local teenager to help raise awareness about bullying and diversity. 17-year-old Caleb Laieski who has been repeatedly threatened with violence and death for being gay is now the city’s youth and diversity liaison for Mayor Greg Stanton. Laieski founded the organization Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination, successfully petitioned his former school district to add sexual orientation to their list of protections, and was named Man of the Year 2011 by Echo magazine, a Phoenix-based LGBT publication.
Women in Corporate Leadership: 2011 Annual Census shows little progress toward gender diversity in the state of Tennessee. The report found while women represented 47% of the Tennessee workforce in 2010, they held only 8% of 566 public company board seats. Turney Stevens, dean of the Lipscomb University College of Business which conducted the study, said, “We encourage business leaders to embrace gender diversity at the board and management levels as a way to increase profitability and improve corporate governance…and because it’s the right thing to do.”
A new golf tournament has been created to raise funds for a diversity scholarship program. The PGA Foundation Champions for Diversity Tournament will help ethnic minorities and young women attain a college degree at one of 19 PGA golf management universities. The tournament will be held for 3 days starting May 31 in Florida.
According to a major study, 3 decades of diversity and sensitivity training has “failed to produce any positive results.” The Harvard Business Review studied 826 companies over 31 years and concluded that “firms where training is mandatory or emphasizes the threat of lawsuits, actually has negative effects on management diversity.” The study found most large companies have given up fighting discrimination cases because they cost so much money to fight and now just offer settlements to make them go away. The report also said that mandatory diversity training classes are often ridiculed and hated by employees.
A new study has proven that employing retail staff that mirrors the customer base can increase annual revenue by as much as $100,000. Based on a survey of 739 J.C. Penney outlets where the employees represented the ethnic makeup of the community, the stores earned, on average, $94,000 a year more than stores that didn’t reflect the wider community. The study was co-authored by professors from Temple University, Rutgers University and Davidson College.