December 07, 2016

Getting through rough patches in business

We all go through rough patches at work, whether we are the employee, the manager or the business owner. Some are more easy to navigate than others. I always appreciate when someone successful talks about a rough  patch and how he or she steered through it.

BethRecently big time corporate executive Beth Kaplan came to South Florida to address a women's organization. Instead of giving the typical "I made it to the top" speech, Kaplan spoke about the rough patches she has hit in her career and how she handled them. To me, that's valuable insight!

Kaplan has hit more than one rough patch. First she worked at Rite Aid, where there was a massive accounting scandal. She managed to leave with her reputation in tact.Next she worked at Bath & Body Works as executive Vice President of merchandising where she spent a ton of time ina different city, away from her family. She left when she could no longer handle the work life balancing act.  Next, she worked as president and COO of Rent the Runway in 2013, a New York-based online company, that loans  designer dresses and accessories to women for special occasions. She left that position in October 2015 and today she is a strategic advisor and board member at Rent the Runway.

In an interview with Wharton's Knowledge@Work , Kaplan explained that a key part of steering through rough patches is knowing how to exit a job with grace.

 “It’s amazing to me that people don’t talk about how to leave an organization. They all talk about how to join one, but they don’t talk about having to leave.”  she told  Wharton. She noted that Bath & Body Works had an extensively documented six-month onboarding process, provided in a large binder to new hires, which made no mention of how people should behave when leaving the company.

She talked with her boss, and together they designed a program with which, Kaplan said, she compiled all her insights and learning, and then “left with grace.” 

Kaplan outlined “certain ground rules” about leaving with grace. Be transparent with your manager, she said. “You go to your boss and say, ‘Look, I found this other opportunity, but I really care about this organization and I’m very thankful for everything you have given me.’ By the way, say that even if you don’t mean it.” Ask your manager how you can help make the situation a win-win, and discuss how much time it will take to wrap things up, she added.

Ruiz.Lisa_.thumbnail-150x150

Kaplan recently shared a few stories and lessons learned from her career with 220 of South Florida’s leading women at The Commonwealth Institute’s Leadership Luncheon at Jungle Island she and had lots of wisdoms to impart. Fortunately, Lisa Cawley Ruiz, (pictured to the left)  a content marketing manager at Kaufman Rossin, one of the top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S., captured  those insights. She originally posted them on her firm blog but allowed me to share them with my readers as well.

 


Here are Kaplan’s top four tips for success:
1. Your reputation is your most valuable asset. It is your personal brand, and  follows you wherever you go.
2. Don't underestimate the impact you have on other people. Our behaviors (positively or negatively) affect those around us more than we realize, which is why it’s important to solicit quality feedback frequently.
3. Make a graceful exit.
How you leave a company is just as important as how you enter.
4. Pick the right partner. “We don’t always agree, but he always has my back,” Kaplan says of her husband. “He reminds me of the things that are most important in my life.”


Kaplan acknowledged that women often feel pressure to conform to expectations, and sometimes have to make decisions that may not be popular. If you’ve given a decision careful thought, you should stick by your choices, she said. “Never apologize for something you’ve thoughtfully considered.”

When the decision in question is whether or not to take a job, thoughtful consideration includes conducting due diligence on a company’s culture. As Kaplan learned the hard way through her experience of seeing Rite Aid nearly collapse in a high-profile financial scandal, culture can make or break a company. (The right culture makes steering through rough patches more doable!)


Recent reports have blamed a mean girl culture for numerous departures at Rent the Runway. However, while in South Florida, Kaplan said culture has been one of the top priorities for the leadership team at Rent the Runway.  The online clothing rental startup recently changed its compensation structure, eliminating bonuses and raising salaries in order to underscore its trust in employees, shift employee focus to long-term strategic thinking that can help scale the business, and create a culture of learning that encourages feedback, she said. Giving your team members “unvarnished, truthful and constructive feedback,” is important. And if an employee is no longer a good fit, address it sooner rather than later.

Kaplan's final piece of advice for busy women: Find a way to unplug and recharge. For some, it may be taking a vacation, working on a hobby or spending time with friends. For Kaplan, it’s ballroom dancing.


December 02, 2016

What you need to do at the office holiday party

 

                               Holiday party

 

This weekend I am attending my husband's holiday office party. By now, I have been to enough holiday parties to know there are unwritten rules. So, I know to tread carefully. I also know that office holiday parties are important -- maybe more so than most people realize. If you are thinking of skipping your holiday party, don't do it. The boss knows exactly who was there and who wasn't.

Now, let's say you do go and you decide to make the most of your company's generosity. Do so cautiously. One year, my husband's co-worker made a big pig of himself by ordering two meals -- a giant steak and a full size lobster. I guess he figured it was the company's dime, but he came across as someone who would run an expense account up just for the heck of it. Not a good impression to leave on the boss.

Holiday office parties can be landmines for embarrassing behavior,  or they can be huge opportunities to impress the boss and strengthen relationships with co-workers. Here are a few tips from many years of navigating the office holiday party.

1. Eat something before you go. Take a nibble on something small but sufficient to soak up any alcohol you ingest quickly. (It's a good idea to pace yourself on the alcohol, too) I have been on the wrong side of this one so I speak from experience.

2. Dress appropriately. We all know what that means --  no sleazy outfits, no ratty shoes, no stained clothing. Ask ahead what people are wearing so you don't show up too overdressed or too casual. 

3. Mingle. It's easy to hang out with the people you already know well but this is great chance to get to know co-workers from other departments or managers who might be helpful in the future. Introduce yourself so you don't spend the whole night talking to someone who has no idea of your name.

4. Make conversation with your boss' significant other. You may not realize it, but significant others have a huge influence on your manager's perception of you. Making the extra effort to converse with his or her other half can help your career. When my husband considers raises, I can't tell you how many times I have pleaded someone's case, so again, I speak from experience.

5. Arrive timely. We joke around in South Florida that people are on "Miami time" but at a holiday party arriving late deprives you of the chance to hang out early in the night when people are most talkative and drinks are just beginning to flow. Even if you don't really want to attend, showing up on time and scooting out shortly after should be enough for people to remember you were there.

6. Be receptive. If someone kisses you on the check, don't stand there like a cold fish. If someone shakes your hand, look him or her in the eye and welcome the introduction. If someone pinches your tush or hugs you too long, that's another story. Let them know right away that you find it offensive. Using humor is a good way to do that.

7. Show appreciation. Before I leave, I always say thank you to the person who planned the event, and the person who paid for it.  Someone put in a great deal of effort hoping you would have a good time and someone spent money to make it happen. Even if you didn't have the best night of your life, not only is saying thank you the nice thing to do, but it also makes you stand out because most employees don't.  

Monster.com has some tips as well, including some advice for the party planner. 

My favorite part of the holiday party is seeing my colleagues dressed up and in a good mood. How about you -- do you love office holiday parties, or dread them?

 

 

November 07, 2016

Good news for workers, employee perks are back!

During the recession, companies pulled back on perks as they cut costs. But now hiring has resumed, salaries are rising, and the fancy perks are back and more creative than ever. 

That's good news for those of us trying harder than ever to strike a work life balance! The even better news is companies are trying harder to find the perks their workers really want. After all, what good is a perk if it doesn't improve our work lives or personal lives, right? 

A growing number of employers are introducing enticements such as cooking classes, student loan assistance, spot bonuses, standing desks, paid leave and free snacks or meals. Other popular benefits that we are seeing more often are onsite meditation, yoga, mindfulness — programs that help workers de-stress.

Recent research from Glassdoor.com, a California-based jobs and recruiting website, found that more than half (57 percent) of people said benefits and perks are among their top considerations when considering accepting a job, and that four in five workers say they would prefer additional benefits over a pay raise.
 
At minimum, most employers offer the basics — medical, dental, vacation, 401k. But more companies are adding to those offerings.  “When employers offer perks, they get something back: They get happier, more focused, more productive employees,” says Andrea Lubell, whose company Innergy Meditation is about to open a Miami Beach studio but has been going to workplaces and doing onsite meditation with employees as a perk.
 
According to a SHRM survey, the three top benefits employees say are important to their job satisfaction are paid time off, healthcare/medical benefits, and flexibility to balance life and work issues. 
 
With a little digging, I found some interesting offerings. If your employer doesn't offer them, it may be worth asking. 

POPULAR EMPLOYEE PERKS IN SOUTH FLORIDA

Food:

Free food

Some businesses provide regular catered lunches. Other companies offer snack rooms, juice bars and visits from food trucks. At Brightstar Credit Union headquartered in Tamarac, employees are provided free healthy snack options including granola bars, smoothies/protein shakes and salads. O’Connell and Goldberg in Hollywood has created an ice cream bar and even holds ice-cream meetings twice a week.

Discount sign

Discounts: About 20 percent of workers say employee discounts are what they value: discounts on cruises when working for a cruise line, dining or shopping when working at certain restaurants or retailers, or on services when working for dentists. Fort Lauderdale cosmetics dentist April Patterson at Dr. Patty’s Dental Boutique and Spa gives her employees a free whitening every three years and free teeth cleaning twice a year, along with discounts for family members.

Happy hour

Happy hours and social events: From hosting a team-building bowling night to taking employees on weekend cruises, employers have caught on that work outings are a fun way for employees to bond while building morale. Future Energy Solutions in Fort Lauderdale does regular team outings to local trendy play spots.

 

Pingpong

Play time: Pool tables and ping-pong tables may seem like distractions, but some companies have recognized their usefulness as creativity boosters. Ultimate Software in Weston has an indoor basketball court for employees to shoot hoops. Fort Lauderdale staffing company Hayes Locum has said its ping-pong table is one of the most used things in the office.

 

Meditation

Stress relief: Some local employers are bringing in masseuses to the office to work out people’s kinks; others are offering yoga classes and guided meditation. At International Creative Designs in Fort Lauderdale, employees can bring their pets to work — a guilt and stress reliever.

 

Contests  Run

Contests and reward programs: Some companies are rewarding outstanding workers with the opportunity to leave early or take a day off. At NextEra Energy in South Florida, all 10,000 employees can use PowerBucks to recognize and reward other colleagues. The PowerBucks are used to enter monthly raffles and win prizes.


For my full Miami Herald article on this topic, click here. 
 
 
 
 

October 24, 2016

How Working Mothers Can Return to Work

I was at Starbuck's a few weeks ago and ran into a fellow journalist who I hadn't seen in many years. She was with her teenage daughter and struck up a conversation with me about how she wants to return to work after taking a decade off to be home with her children.

My first thought was...that's not going to be easy. In almost every profession, including journalism, technology has changed how we do our jobs. If my friend wants to apply for a job, she will be competing for jobs against people who have embraced that change, particularly young reporters. So what's the answer? Will my friend be able to return to work?

A few days later, I heard Gloria Samayoa speak at an event and mention that her digital marketing agency, SapientNitro, is piloting a return to work program in its Miami office. The program aimed at transitioning experienced professionals back into the workforce was successful in other offices and the agency thought Miami would be a good place to try it, too. The two conversations led to a Miami Herald column on "Returnships" which are similar to internships but for experienced workers who go back to work on a trial basis and receive one-on-one mentoring during that time period. The goal is to turn the experience into a permanent, fulltime position. 

After interviewing two mothers who participated in these "returnship"programs, I'm convinced this is a great option for anyone looking to transition back into the workforce with a gap in his or her résumé. 

You can click here for the full Miami Herald article. Here is a link to a list compiled by iRelaunch of companies that offer career re-entry programs. 

Below are some great tips from women who have returned to work.

 

Jax and Mom-1

Ellen Kalis and her son Jax. Ellen, took four years off and now works at SapientNitro

 

TIPS FROM FOUR FEMALE ‘CAREER-RETURNERS’

1. Carol Fishman Cohen of Boston returned to work at Bain Capital after 11 years out of the full-time workforce. She eventually founded iRelaunch.com, a firm that connects employers with returning professionals. Her advice: “Get clarity around what want to do now at this point in your life. Once you know where you want to work, get to know the company you are applying to really well.” She also advises taking courses or refreshing skills before applying for full-time jobs or return-to-work positions. “Get into the mindset that you are open to training and the feeling you can do it.”

2. Amy Brenner Schaecter of Weston returned to work after more than a decade at home. First she went to a PR firm, then in-house at a multinational company. Her advice: “When you get back to work, make friends with a smart millennial. The synergy is awesome.”

3. Ellen Kalis participated in SapientNitro’s Returns Program after a four-year hiatus. Her advice: “You have to have confidence in your skills. If you go in and show your value right away, companies will see that. Even though I needed more ramp-up time than a millennial or someone who came from that position, hopefully I am adding value somewhere else.” Kalis is now a full-time public relations lead for SapientNitro, Canada and the Midwest. Ellen published an awesome blog post about her experience.

4. When Carol Hansen returned to return to work in New York after 10 years as a stay-at-home mom, the industry she had left —marketing/advertising — was transformed. Hansen’s transition through SapientNitro’s return-to-work program had its challenges: It was her first time working with millennials, balancing work and family, and digital storytelling. Her advice: “Jump in and raise your hand to help with any project. In doing so, talk to people in all areas of the company,” she said. “Even if I didn’t make it past the returnship period, I knew I needed to learn more and make myself relevant. I saw areas where I was strong and got a reading on areas where I wasn’t.” Hansen is now a full-time senior user experience designer at SapientNitro in New York.

 

 

 

September 27, 2016

Is it okay to interrupt women?

Last night, I watch Donald Trump continuously interrupt Hillary. Indeed, by the time the debate was over, Trump had interrupted Clinton 51 times — whereas Clinton had interrupted Trump just 17 times, according to the fact checkers. You could say it is Trump's personality to speak his mind and that he interrupted the men, too, during the Republican debates. 

What was different in last night's debate were the Twitter comments that ensued, such as this one:

 

Shout out to all the women having stress flashbacks to being yelled over in important meetings

 

Stacy Marie was just one of the women took to Twitter to complain about how often she is interrupted by men, particularly in the business setting. Decades of research show that women get interrupted more often by both men and women, and that women are often given less credit, or even penalized, for being outspoken.

Last night, these dynamics were on display on a worldwide stage and the reaction was fascinating.

Whether it's in the boardroom, the conference room or in front of TV viewers, interruptions are not only rude, they prevent a speaker from making his or her point, and moving on. At the end of the day, not being heard affects our efficiency, effectiveness and our work life balance.

Men likely are more comfortable interrupting women because they have been raised from day one to believe what they have to say is important. However, women interrupt each other, too. In a blog post on Vox, it was noted that tech startup CEO and linguist Kieran Snyder designed an experiment that found men in tech industry meetings interrupted twice as often as women did, and that men were three times as likely to interrupt women as they were to interrupt other men. When women did interrupt, they interrupted other women 87 percent of the time.

Post debate, I've heard little criticism of Trump for interrupting as much as he did. In fact, Vox points out that Hillary is more likely to be criticized for the way she responded to Trump's interruptions.

 

I appreciated this tweet:

A President should always interrupt someone by yelling "wrong, wrong" in a microphone.

 

Don't be naive to think such "wrong, wrong" behavior doesn't go on in workplaces. It does and it needs to stop.

In fact, recently workplace columnist  Rex Hupkke wrote about mansplaining and described the term this way:

"The all-too-frequent instances when a man explains something to a female co-worker in a condescending manner. It often begins with the man interrupting the woman — "Actually …" — or talking over her, all so he can explain something she already understands."

Rex even offered a solution to men:  Stop and think. Before you cut off a female colleague or launch into an explanation of something that needs no explanation, ask yourself: Am I about to mansplain?

I am sure Trump could care less about curbing his mansplaining or his interruptions. It's been an effective tool for him in business. But when our effectiveness and work life balance are at stake, women need to make men more aware of their behavior, whether or not it is intentional, and nudge them to change it.

Of course, let's not let ourselves off the hook either. We have just seen what interruptions look like and it isn't a pretty picture. Let's set the example for men and stop and think before we interrupt other women.

Everyone deserves to be heard. It's time to make that loud and clear.

 
 

 

 

 

 

August 16, 2016

How to survive political discussion in the workplace

                                                               Politics

 

 

Your co-worker mentions that he's a big Trump fan and went to the rally over the weekend. You're repulsed but you have to sit next to this guy every day. Do you engage and ask him why the heck he would support a guy like Trump? Do you tell him not to mention politics at work?

Drawing the line between work and politics can get tricky with the November election only months away. With new election developments daily, political discussions in the lunchroom, parking lot and office cubicles are inevitable. So how do you navigate workplace discussion knowing the election will soon be over but your co-worker will sit next to you for months and years to come?

Here are a few ways to approach political conversations at work:

Take a cue from the top. In some offices, managers have made employees remove buttons and stickers on cubicles in support of a candidate, or discouraged workers from political talk on the job. In other workplaces, managers are comfortable with respectful debate about personalities and issues and encourage workers to stay abreast of current events that could affect business.

Think carefully before you speak. Longtime Florida lawmaker Elaine Bloom, now president and CEO of Plaza Health Network, the largest nursing home network in Miami-Dade County, says in her daily interaction with executives and healthcare workers she often gets asked her thoughts on a political issue or candidate. “I have to be very careful,” she says. Sometimes, she will clarify a fact or give her opinion, but make it clear that she doesn’t expect her staff or nursing home residents to agree with her view. Sometimes, she will discourage the conversation if she believes it’s going to create hard feelings. “I’ll say something like, ‘Let’s leave the political discussion for outside the workplace.’ 

Speak up. If you feel bullied or harassed or can’t get your co-worker to stop talking politics, it's time to mention it to a manager. “These conversations could drag on for hours and become a productivity issue. When voices are raised, threats come out, or it becomes a distraction, a manager needs to step in," says Edward Yost, director of employee relations for the Society for Human Resource Management.

Agree to disagree.  If your colleague mentions he supports Marco Rubio for Senate and you despise Rubio, you may want to give your perspective but agree to disagree. It's difficult -- if not impossible -- to change someone's political opinions so the best approach is to verbalize that you don't see eye to eye and that it's okay to have perspectives. The key is to stop the conversation before it gets personal.  

Think long term. If someone sees a bumper sticker on someone’s car or finds out a colleague is campaigning for a candidate, it's easy to make a snap judgment about a co-worker’s beliefs and even cast someone as prejudice. But remember, you are going to be working together after the election and it’s not smart to damage a cooperative working relationship.

Use caution on social media. If a supervisor touts his political views on Facebook where a staff member can see it, that could be considered harassment, says April Boyer, an employment attorney at K & L Gates in Miami . “It’s possible the employee could come in and complain. These are complicated issues to work through.”


For more on talking politics at work, read my column in The Miami Herald.

 

August 04, 2016

Do we work as much as we think we do?

Keyboard

(Photo by Jay LaPrete AP)

 
 

 

If you're like me, you feel like you're working A LOT. But are you as overworked as you think you are?

According to the American Time Use Survey, full time workers only put in about 40 hours a week, and only five minutes more a week than a decade ago.

What it doesn't account for, though, is how we work.

In this hyper-connected age, working hours might still be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the hours to do work can stretch from midnight to midnight, with emails zipping through the ether at the convenience of the sender, but not necessarily the recipient, as noted by Nick Coltrain of the Coloradoan

I don't know about you, I tend to interval work, which means I switch from task to task at home and the office, taking care of personal responsibilities and work responsibilities as needed. If your workday is anything like mine, you might sit down in front of your computer screen to start a project and become distracted by a new email. Then, you might work for an hour, and take a quick break to check Facebook.

The switching between personal and business tasks at the workplace has become so habitual that some researchers believe Americans spend as much as two hours of an eight-hour workday doing non-work tasks, whether or not we realize it. Two hours is a lot isn't it? Of course, no one can work 8 hours straight without going crazy. We all need breaks!

I think what makes me feel like I'm working so much is that even when I am at home and not actually working, I still feel the tug of work on my brain. It's that always on feeling that researchers say creates chronic stress and emotional exhaustion.

In our desire for work/life balance, it's just as difficult to know how much time we spend on leisure activities as work tasks, in part because of the increase in smartphone use. The American Time Use Survey shows Americans spend about five hours a day doing leisure activity, with television watching accounting for more than half of that time. However, many people watch television with their mobile devices in hand and sporadically check work email.

When employers ask workers to manually track their work time, productivity improves, according to Fred Krieger, CEO of Scoro, a San Francisco productivity/project management software firm. If you really tracked the hours you work, how much do you think it would add up to? Do you consider multi-tasking -- watching television and checking email to be work or leisure time? It's kind of tricky, isn't it? But if we can improve our productivity by tracking our time, it might be worth doing.

What do you think your time diary would reveal?

 

 

 

April 11, 2016

If Birth Order Affects Success, Am I Doomed?

                                   

IMG_3292
(Me and my siblings!)

 

 

Yesterday was National Sibling Day and my Facebook feed was filled with friends posting adorable photos of themselves with their siblings.  Seeing the photos made me think about my siblings, my slot in the family, our personalities and our lives, and of course, our work life balance.

I am a middle child, squeezed between an older sister and younger brother. I am also the sibling who wants everyone to get along. I guess you can say I'm a collaborator and a peacekeeper. So, what does that mean for me as a business woman and working mother? 

According to Jeff Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect, whether you have siblings, how many you have and where you fall in the hierarchy can play an important role in the work you love, the career you pursue and how successful you’ll be. It could even affect how you balance work and life.

Kluger says middle children -- like me -- take longer to find a career they love and in which they can thrive. Sometimes, we even get depressed about it. On the upside, we tend to build bigger networks and excel at relationship management—connecting, negotiating, brokering peace between differing sides. Kluger says middle siblings may not wind up as the corporate chiefs or the comedians, but whatever they do, they’re likely to do it more collegially and agreeably—and, as a result, more successfully—than other siblings. 

Kluger is right. I'm not a CEO, but I have found success as a writer on my own terms. However, because I'm the agreeable middle child,  I think work life balance is more difficult for me. I'm the sibling who takes on what others don't want to do, just to keep peace, such juggling my own children's needs with caregiving for aging family members.

Life is different for first borns, the oldest children. Kluger says they are statistically likelier to be CEOs, senators and astronauts—and to make more money than their younger siblings. He points out that first borns tend to run their companies conservatively—improving things by, say, streamlining product lines, simplifying distribution routes and generally making sure the trains run on time. From what I've seen, first borns run their households the same way as they run their organizations. These are the superwomen who make juggling work and family look easy.

Kluger says last borns, the youngest children, are risk takers. They are more inclined to be rebellious, funnier, more intuitive and more charismatic than their older siblings. Multiple studies have shown that the baby of the family is likelier than other siblings to be a writer or artist or especially a comedian—Stephen Colbert, the youngest of 11 siblings, is a great example of this. From my perspective, the youngest child stresses least about work life balance because he or she is more likely to ask for help -- and get it.

So, what do you think about birth order and odds of success? Do you fit Kluger's stereotypes? How do you think your birth order may be affecting your career and life choices and your work life balance?

March 31, 2016

Why women will get equal pay and who we will thank for it

Women are capable of achieving amazing feats, and for centuries we've done it without recognition. But now, we're achieving way too much to do it without equal pay.

In the last few months, female voices are getting louder, the discontent over the gender wage gap is getting stronger and we're rallying the way we did decades ago when we wanted the opportunity to vote in America. Today, I woke up to learn that five players from the World Cup-winning U.S. national team have accused the U.S. Soccer Federation of wage discrimination in an action filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Women soccer players want equal pay and they should get it. It's an awesome goal.

Soccer2
 

The soccer players' lawsuit comes only weeks afters the subject of equal pay in tennis grabbed headlines. It started with awful comments by BNP Paribas Opentournament CEO Raymond Moore said female players in the Women’s Tennis Association “ride on the coattails of the men.” He followed up by suggesting that women should “go down every night on [their] knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.” Moore has since issued an official apology for his “erroneous” comments that were in “poor taste.” But Novak Djokovic, the world’s top men’s player, who won on the men’s finals this weekend, added more fuel to the fire, saying that men should “fight for more” money because their matches have more spectators that those played by women.

Serena Williams, wasn't going to take that and fired back, saying “I think Venus, myself, a number of players—if I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister—I couldn’t even bring up that number,” she added.

SerenaSerena got her point across. Moore took so much heat for his comments about women's pay that he announced he was stepping down as CEO of the tournament.

Outside of the sports world, the call for fair pay has cropped up in other professions. In my Miami Herald column yesterday, I wrote about young female lawyers in Florida surveyed by the Florida Bar who complained of inequities in compensation in the legal industry. Their collective voices are bringing attention to the issue in the legal community.

And then there is the attention Jennifer Lawrence has brought to equal pay in Hollywood for actresses. In a widely read essay Jennifer addressed wage gap in Hollywood, which was made explicitly clear to her after the Sony hacking scandal revealed she was paid less than her male co-stars in "American Hustle."  She wrote that she wasn't so much upset with Sony as she was with herself, believing she "failed as a negotiator." She attributed this failure to "an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn't want to seem 'difficult' or 'spoiled.'" 

Her piece sparked not only sparked discussion, it launched the Women Entertaining Change movement in JlawHollywood in which actresses and female directors are speaking out about fair pay and opportunities for women. The Today Show has been highlighting outspoken women in Hollywood and their demands for an equal playing field.

Women may have gotten the Equal Pay Act in 1963, making it illegal to pay men and women differently for the same type of work, but today, women are still paid, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. For women of color, that pay gap is even wider. In 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, intended to restore and improve on equal pay law.

Yet, women still experience pay inequality across the board -- whether you're Hollywood's , a clerk in a retail store or a businesswoman.

My mother's generation went mostly for jobs that were set aside for women. My generation fought to ascend into careers that had been off limits and we're still fighting to get the leadership positions in businesses that we think we deserve. Now come the millennial women and they assume they are going to be business leaders, law firm partners, world renowned athletes and Oscar winning actresses --  and they want to be paid equally for it. They are speaking out about it -- loudly. 

I believe they will be heard.

Not because the men want to hear them, but because they no longer can afford not to hear them. These women are their daughters, their wives, their bosses.They are smart, competent, and increasingly well educated and think big. They are saving lives, directing corporate strategy, winning sports events, bringing audiences to the movie theaters, representing litigants, discovering cures and inspiring the next generation of women who will make a difference in the world.

These young women see that they are sacrificing as much as men and working just as much and they want to be appreciated for it. Not with praise or trophies but with equal treatment and compensation.

Their voices are loud. Their strategies are targeted. Their actions are creating dialogue. I believe the time is now and equal pay is in their grasp. 

 

                                            Equal

March 03, 2016

Big changes in the workplace in 2016

Now that we welcomed March, the luster of the new year is starting to wear off. I've been hearing people complain more about their co-workers, their bosses, their clients, their workplaces. With all the grumbling going on, it's good to stay abreast of legal changes that affect us in our workplaces. Some of them may put more money in your wallet, make your work life easier, or prevent you from getting fired. For employers, keeping up with changes is critical for avoiding a costly lawsuit or government audit.

Adam Kemper Photo 2

Fort Lauderdale labor attorney Adam Kemper, of Greenspoon Marder Law weighs in today to bring us up to date on the changes we need to know about:

 

 

 

 

Ten Employment Issues to Lookout for in 2016 

 

  • 1- Increased Salary Requirement for Exemptions: Employees may get a boost in salary in 2016. The threshold for many exempt (salaried) employees is increasing later this year from $455 a week (or $23,660.00 per year) to $970.00 a week (or $50,440.00 per year). For workers affected, employers will need to increase salaries or pay overtime.

 

  • 2- Increase in Minimum Wage: As of January 1, fourteen states increased their minimum wage requirements. Employers  in those states must pay the new minimum wage or risk wage violations.

 

  • 3- Sexual Orientation is a Protected Characteristic: Employers are now liable for sexual orientation discrimination in their workplace. Expect employers to implement policies to avoid potential claims for sexual orientation discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation.

 

  • 4- Transgender Rights in the Workplace:  Employers must ensure all anti-discrimination workplace policies include protection for transgender workers. They also must provide their employees adequate access to restrooms that correspond to their employees' gender identity.

 

  • 5- Increase in Age Discrimination Claims: Another year, another birthday for the country's aging baby boomer demographic. Employers must now give more thought to eliminating positions belonging to individuals in the protected age class (of age 40 or over). 

 

  • 6- Safety in the Workplace: In 2015, there were a number of violent attacks in the workplace. Employers have a legal obligation to protect their employees from harm. Employers will need to revisit workplace safety policies to ensure their employees are adequately protected.   

 

  • 7- Marijuana Regulation: In 2016, expect to see more regulations passed that permit individuals with health conditions to be treated with marijuana. That means employers will need to revisit their workplace policies. Overly restrictive policies on the use of medical marijuana (or any prescribed medication for that matter) could result in a potential ADA violation.

 

  • 8-Social Media: While the boss might want to keep employees off social media, a complete ban on can run afoul of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act because employees have a right to engage in concerted activity on social media. Additionally, employees can now refuse to give their employers their Facebook or Twitter passwords as more states have enacted legislation which ban an employer's request for login and password information for employees' social media accounts.

 

  • 9-Background Check Litigation: Worried that a background check will unfairly be used against you? With increased safety concerns, more employers are conducting background checks on their applicants and employees. However, many employers are not familiar with laws concerning background checks and violations of both the Fair Credit Reporting Act and federal anti-discrimination laws. Employers will need to ensure that their background check processes complies with all laws.

 

  •  10-Misclassification: Are you a contractor or an employee? The Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service are now sharing information to notify the other of instances when employers are misclassifying their employees as independent contractors. The consequence of misclassifying is penalties assessed by both federal agencies (in addition to lawsuits by private litigants).  Employers will need to understand the distinction between employees and independent contractors, and classify workers properly. That could mean paying benefits and overtime to workers who are misclassified.

 

We all know there are many personalities in a workplace and issues that arise that can easily lead to conflict. Kemper advises being mindful of legal changes to avoid major headaches and disruption! Expect to see more changes in the year ahead!