Jewish leaders plead for more HR support; scale of US strikes revealed

In this week's HR news round-up: Calls for CHROs to support their Jewish employees; the scale of US strikes is revealed; DEI efforts still failing, plus lots more:

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Oct 19, 2023

US Jewish leaders plead for more HR support

HR professionals need to step up, and ensure they are proactive about providing support for their Jewish employees, according to an article by the Society for Human Resource Management. In the aftermath of the turmoil in Gaza and Israel, it urges CHROs to establish employee resource groups for Jewish employees if they haven’t done so already. It also says CHROs should be cognizant of the fact that the workplace may experience an uptick in harassment and bias incidents against Jewish employees. It adds that HR professionals should consider sending messages of support to any employees impacted by the attacks, including employees who may have lost family or friends in Israel. Companies have been urged to check their policies to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations to all employees, and to also not forget to be available to Palestinian Americans too, who may be fearful for their family and friends. The White House recently released a joint statement with leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the UK stating that Hamas does not represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Scale of US strikes revealed…

The sheer scale of employee strikes in America in recent months has been revealed – with Cornell University calculating that more than 330,000 US workers have participated in strikes since the start of September. Striking workers – who encompass everyone from Hollywood actors and writers to those in healthcare and autoworkers – have been united in their desire for better pay and conditions. Cornell also notes that numbers of striking workers has been steadily building. Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union started off with 13,000 workers walking out, but this has since reportedly grown to around 34,000 now protesting on the picket line. The reveal of the numbers of striking employees comes as Anderson Economic Group estimates a total economic loss of $5.5 billion through the third full week from the autoworkers strike alone. In August, meanwhile, the combined writers and actors strike was estimated to have cost the California’s economy $3 billion, as films and TV productions were shut down. Earlier this month, more than 75,000 health care workers from Kaiser Permanente went on a three-day strike in California, making it the largest health care strike in US history.

…as Waffle House workers walk out over pay and working conditions

Workers at Waffle House locations in the southern US have walked out in a bid to secure a raft of better pay and working conditions. Amongst the demands of staff are that they’re paid a $25 hourly minimum wage; that automatic meal deduction charges are removed from their paychecks; and that stores alter their historic reputation for always being open, no matter what the scale of any natural disaster. This latter claim comes as the restaurant chain often keeps locations open 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout storms and big weather events. This, claim workers, shows managers have a lack of respect for their labor and the conditions they work under. “Waffle House workers are the upper echelon of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met in my life,” said one worker protesting. He added: “A lot of people are struggling. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for people to have a dignified life when they’re working so hard to get people meals.” The strike is supported by the Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW), a worker organization supported by the Service Employees International Union. The USSW has posted numerous videos in recent months of Waffle House workers reaffirming the petition’s demands and highlighting the impact their low wages and poor working conditions has on them.

Skills in such short supply, companies are hiring people they’ve never actually met

Such is demand for highly skilled talent, that almost a third (32%) of global CIOs admit they’ve had no choice but to hire someone they have never met in person. Research of over 650 CIOs in global enterprises across Europe, US and APAC by Expereo reveals skills and resource retention (35%) is currently amongst the top three barriers to their business delivering global growth. Almost a third (31%) of CIOs say that finding the right competencies for their team in governance and regulatory compliance is a challenge, while expertise in growth technologies such as cyber security (49%) AI/ML (41%), and data analytics (38%) tops the list as the most challenging skills to recruit for. According to the research, working three days in the office or less is now the ‘new normal’ for almost three-quarters (72%) of businesses, with almost half (44%) of global CIOs believing the increased demand for hybrid/remote working is being driven by cost of living pressures. Having said that, a third of global CIOs expect to see an increase in the number of days they expect people to work from the office.

Anderson Corporation named one of America’s ‘Greatest Workplaces for Parents and Families’

Windows and doors manufacturer, Anderson Corporation, has been recognized as one of 2023 America’s Greatest Workplaces for Parents & Families by Newsweek. The ranking identifies the top 800 companies in the United States for parents, single parents and families. The list is based on a large employer survey and a sample set of more than 36,000 respondents who are parents/single parents working in the US for companies that have at least 1,000 employees. Anderson was hailed for its commitment to inclusive and equitable workplace policies; its expanded benefits eligibility to same- and different-gender domestic partners and their children; as well as its updated parental leave which now includes offering employees the ability to take their paid parental leave in one-week increments versus requiring employees to use it all at once. Said Chris Galvin, CEO and president, Andersen Corporation: “We are honored to be recognized by Newsweek and this award is a testament to our dedication to fostering a workplace where all families can thrive. At Andersen, we believe that families come in all forms and we are committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment that recognizes and celebrates the diverse needs of our employees and their families.”

Department of Labor orders restaurant chain to pay $105,000 in unpaid wages

An investigation by the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has ruled that an owner of three restaurants in Washington denied 20 workers their overtime pay for hours worked beyond their standard 40 hours a week. The division also found a minor-aged employee had worked more hours than are currently permitted on school days, and beyond the allowable times, in violation of FLSA’s child labor regulations. It has ordered the owner – Jose Sanchez, who runs three Mayan Mexican Restaurants – to pay $52,923 in unpaid overtime wages for 20 employees; $52,923 in damages for 20 employees and $6,440 in civil money penalties. Commenting on the case, wage and hour division district director Thomas Silva said: “Restaurant employees work hard to make ends meet for themselves and their families. This restaurant willfully violated federal overtime and child labor regulations by underpaying employees and having a minor work beyond the allowable hours.” He added: “We urge employers in this industry to review their employment practices and avoid costly consequences for violating the law.”

DEI efforts still failing BIPOC and Hispanic employees, finds report

According to new research by Arizent, black, indigenous and other people of colour (BIPOC) and Hispanic men and women still report higher levels of isolation at work than their white counterparts. The finding, presented in its third annual diversity, equity and inclusion report, reveals 27% of BIPOC or Hispanic men and 31% of BIPOC or Hispanic women said it was extremely important for employers to address DEI discrepancies compared to only 13% of white men and 20% of white women. Some 7% of BIPOC or Hispanic women said current DEI initiatives felt performative, while 5% of men felt it was being executed poorly. In addition to this, when asked to rate the level of inclusion a company demonstrates for multiple different minority groups including women, the LGBTQ community and disabled folks, BIPOC and Hispanic men and women were significantly less likely to rate companies’ DEI efforts as very inclusive or friendly for those demographics. The data was collected online between July and August 2023 from 669 U.S. employees across all industry sectors.