HR News Roundup - May 2022

This is the first of our new monthly HR news roundups. At the end of every month, we will share the top stories that attracted our attention and share a bit from each story. We also will include a link to the full story for those who want to read the entire article. We hope you find these stories as interesting as we do!

HR News Roundup: Great Leaders Know When to Push or Pull Their Teams; D&I Programs Can Hurt Women Leaders; HCM Reporting Updates, COVID Take-Home Lawsuits & More Top Stories

Stories that caught our eye in May include one on the importance of “push-pull” leadership from the Harvard Business Review. We also were intrigued by a story in Fortune detailing research that found D&I programs designed to help women move up in leadership may actually hurt their professional trajectory. And we found a story in the National Law Review about a jump in COVID take-home lawsuits interesting. Learn more about these and other topics below:


To Get Results, the Best Leaders Both Push and Pull Their Teams

When you see a task that needs to be accomplished by your team, do you “push” them to get it done, or do you “pull” them in, giving them a say in how they carry it out and using inspiration and motivation to get them going? These are two very different approaches to reaching a goal, according to an article in Harvard Business Review. The latter is often the best one. Knowing how to combine these two paths, however, is an important skill for managers and leaders. Leaders who are willing to try hard with pulling but ultimately resort to a strong push provide a good example of the power of the combination of these two approaches. Pushing too hard can erode satisfaction but, at times, is needed, especially when pulling just does not work. While the research data showed that most leaders could benefit from improving their ability to pull or inspire others, it also revealed that leaders who were effective at both pushing and pulling were ultimately the most effective.

Read the Harvard Business Review article here.


The Problem With Diversity And Inclusion Initiatives

Women's representation in leadership roles has improved, but recent research suggests that diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives have done little to change harmful gender stereotypes. While a 2021 McKinsey & Company study suggests that efforts have been successful in increasing female representation in leadership, efforts focused primarily on this may feed gender stereotypes. Research suggests that these initiatives inadvertently signal that women need help to succeed. When trying to make sense of why this might be true, individuals tend to underestimate the prevalence of gender stereotypes and the obstacles they create. Doing so leads them to “assume that women need help because they are less competent than their male peers (and, therefore, unlikely to succeed on their own merit), rather than because negative stereotypes put women at a systematic disadvantage.” Establishing explicit goals about the number or percentage of women in leadership roles may also inadvertently signal those women need to be promoted irrespective of beliefs about their abilities. This may create implicit pressure to reward or promote women.

Read the entire article in Fortune here.

HR/Human Capital Management

Key Themes of Human Capital Management Disclosure

Public companies in the United States have completed the second year of required disclosure regarding human capital management (HCM), allowing stakeholders to compare year-over-year changes in how companies are disclosing HCM and different topics of interest. Recent research into companies’ Form 10-Ks has found a continued general lack of quantitative information, according to a recent story. While the categories in HCM 10-K disclosures have not changed meaningfully in this second year, S&P 500 companies are expanding their disclosures to include a broader set of topics and include more in-depth information within each topic. In a subset of 73 companies in the S&P 500, companies disclosing quantitative data about gender or race/ethnicity breakdown more than doubled in year two compared to year one. There also was an 80 percent rise in quantitative data reported on employee geography, such as the number of employees by country or region, as well as a 62 percent increase in data on employee turnover (a hot topic many companies are challenged with). At the same time, many companies reduced the amount of disclosure in areas such as pay equity and pandemic measures.

Read more about the research findings here.


Employers Beware: Take-Home COVID Cases are on the Rise in the US

You have just been informed that an employee who apparently contracted COVID-19 from exposure in your workplace brought the virus home. Now his spouse, who is in a high-risk category, has contracted the virus and is in the hospital. Do you as the employer face potential liability for the spouse’s illness? More than two dozen so-called “take-home” COVID-19 lawsuits have been filed across the country, including against some of the largest employers in the US. This alarming pattern has prompted trade groups to warn employers of the potential for lawsuits stemming from COVID infections filed not only by workers’ family and friends but by anyone infected by that circle of people, creating a seemingly endless chain of liability for employers. Some states have enacted laws shielding employers from such suits, but where that is not the case, the legal theories and procedural paths under which these suits have proceeded vary – including some being brought in state courts, some in federal courts, and others brought under claims within the worker’s compensation system. 

Read the entire National Law Review article here.

Workplace Culture

Mental Health in the Workplace: Addressing Employee Wellness and Raising  

May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and – since one in five U.S. adults aged 18 or older lives with some form of mental illness, according to 2020 data from the National Institute of Mental Health – employers should continue to respond to employees’ mental health issues and strive to provide an environment where their employees not only can succeed but also thrive. Some employees are anxious to return to the office or physical workplaces, while others are eager to be back around other people. Others carry anxiety over having to protect high-risk family members or over having to take care of someone with long-term complications from COVID-19. This has resulted in the fact that 30 percent of Americans with Disabilities Act-related charges filed in the fiscal year 2021 were mental health-related, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Moreover, while charges per year for discrimination based on depression have remained relatively stable over the past decade, the number of claims based on anxiety disorder in 2021 was nearly double the number in 2011 and accounted for 11.6 percent of all disability discrimination charges filed last year, according to the EEOC.

Read the article here.

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