Aramark scores perfect 100 score for LGBTQ+ initiatives; Spotify slashes 17% of staff

In this week's round-up of the HR stories making the news: Aramark scores a perfect 100 for equality; Spotify slashes headcount, while the states with the best jobs growth are revealed:

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Dec 7, 2023
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Aramark scores perfect 100 on LGBTQ+ workplace equality scorecard

Leading hospitality and facilities services company, Aramark, has been praised for scoring a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s 2023-2024 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) in the area of LGBTQ+ equality in the workplace. Commenting on the score, Aramark’s VP of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Fenimore Fisher said: “We are proud of the options that now exist for our LGBTQ+ employees to self-identify. We maintain our commitment to create equity by increasing access to opportunities for all our employees, inclusive of their sexual/romantic orientation and gender identity. We are enabling a culture of inclusion, where everyone can feel safe to bring their whole self to work.” Aramark’s efforts in satisfying all the CEI’s criteria earned a score of 100 and the designation as recipient of the Equality 100 Award: Leader in LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion. The recognition comes after Aramark launched its first campaign in June to encourage all employees to voluntarily self-identify internally. As part of its ‘Pronouns Matter’ campaign, some 2,500 Aramark employees have utilized resources or updated their pronouns in e-signature and business cards. According to the CEI, 1,340 businesses now have non-discrimination protections specific to gender identity, up from just 17 in 2002.

Spotify axes 17% of workforce in third round of cuts in a single year

Music streaming company, Spotify, is laying off around 17% of its entire workforce – some 1,500 positions – as it desperately seeks to clamp down on costs and “rightsize” the business. Despite recently reporting a profit of €65m (£55.7m) for the three months to September – its first quarterly profit for more than a year – the company is trying to recoup spending to try and help it achieve its aims of reaching one billion users by 2030. (So far it has 601 million – up from 345 million at the end of 2020). In a email sent to staff, CEO Daniel Ek admitted that “many smart, talented and hard-working people will be departing us.” He said: “Over the last two years, we’ve put significant emphasis on building Spotify into a truly great and sustainable business – one designed to achieve our goal of being the world’s leading audio company and one that will consistently drive profitability and growth into the future.” He added: “While we’ve made worthy strides, as I’ve shared many times, we still have work to do. Economic growth has slowed dramatically and capital has become more expensive. Spotify is not an exception to these realities.” The memo said HR would be getting in touch with impacted staff within the next ‘two hours’. Employees will each receive five months’ severance pay and any accrued or unused holiday will also be paid. The cut is now the third one in the space of a year. Spotify cut 6% of its workforce, or about 600 employees, at the start of the year. Spotify then laid off 2% of staff, equivalent to roughly 200 roles, in June.

Detroit casino workers finally agree to end strike

A 47-day strike by MGM Grand Detroit casino workers has finally come to an end, after the Detroit Casino Council, which represents nearly 4,000 employees of the city’s three casinos, agreed a new pay-year pay agreement. The new deal, which covers about 1,700 employees, includes an average immediate 18% pay rise, workload reductions and no health care costs increases for employees, according to the council. “We sacrificed a lot during the pandemic, but we fought for and ultimately won a contract that secures our health care and provides significantly improved wages,” said Gabriel Robert Hernandez, a valet at MGM Grand Detroit and Teamsters Local 1038 member. The union’s workers primarily include dealers, cleaning staff and valets. Workers at MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood Casino at Greektown and MotorCity Casino initially walked out on October 17th over concerns that health care and wages had not kept up with the cost of living. “We’re excited to welcome our team back and continue providing our guests the entertainment experiences for which MGM Grand Detroit is known,” commented Matt Buckley, president and COO of Midwest Group, MGM Resorts International, in a statement.

States with the biggest job growth in 2023 revealed

Yahoo! Finance has revealed the 20 US states with the best jobs growth for 2023. After crunching data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, top growing states range from the likes of Indiana (ranked 20th, with a year-on-year jobs growth rate of 1.9%, or 62,500 new jobs creates), to first placed Idaho, where the year-on-year growth rate topped out at 3.5% – adding 28,900 jobs to bring its total to 863,500. Nevada came in at second-place, with a jobs growth rate of 3.4% (it added 52,200 more jobs), which was ahead of third-positioned Texas, which added the highest actual number of new jobs created – some 391,500. This was equivalent to a year-on-year jobs growth rate of 2.9%. Other notable states include 4th placed Florida (it added 278,400 new jobs – a growth rate of 2.9%); South Carolina (49,200 new jobs – growth of 2.2%); and Ohio (109,600 new jobs added, at a growth rate of 2%). Eighteen of the 20 states listed were found to have grown their number of new jobs by 2% or more. New Mexico (one of the most sparsely-populated states), added the fewest number of new jobs – 17,1000 – but this was still equivalent to year-on-year growth of 2%.

New York City workers to get $16 per hour from 2024

Workers in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County will soon see their minimum wage rise to $16 per hour. The rise – which takes effect from 1st January 2024 – sees employees there join a further 21 states that will see a rise in their wages from the New Year. Washington state will require employers to pay $16.28 an hour, the nation’s highest minimum wage at the state level. According to BNN Bloomberg, the gains come as legislators have boosted minimum wage levels as inflation has fueled big increases in living expenses. Commenting on this latest rise, Holly Sklar, chief executive officer of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage said the minimum wage increase was a reflection of “increases that have passed by legislation, where raises are being phased in annually, or raises that have been passed by a ballot initiative.” She added: “I’m not saying everything’s great — everything’s not great when it comes to the economy. But with unemployment being low, it helps give workers the flexibility to change to a job that is going to help them make ends meet.”

Depression revealed to cost global economy $1 trillion per year

The impact of depression on the global economy is a staggering $1 trillion according to US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. And this isn’t even counting anxiety and the other physical illnesses linked to loneliness and isolation. According to Murthy around 280 million people – or around 5% of adults globally – have depression, and it is a mental health disorder that negatively affects sleep, appetite, decision-making, focus, time management, and social connections. Speaking to Fortune, he said: “Our mental health is the fuel that allows us to show up in our life, at work, and at home in our communities. When we struggle with our mental health, it impacts our productivity in the workplace, how engaged we are in our work, and even our retention, and our absenteeism.”  He added: “Employers have not just an interest, but I believe also a responsibility to do everything they can to support mental health in the workplace. He added: “It ends up benefiting not just the organization itself, but the spillover benefits accrue to the broader community.”

AI – used and feared in equal amounts

Data from EY’s just published ‘AI Anxiety in Business Survey’ reveals most US workers are using AI, but just as many fear the technology’s impact on their role. The research finds 75% of employees are concerned AI will make certain jobs obsolete, while about two-thirds (65%) say they are anxious about AI replacing their job. About half (48%) of respondents said they are more concerned about AI today than they were a year ago, and of those, 41% believe it is evolving too quickly. Commenting on the data, Dan Diasio, EY’s global artificial intelligence consulting leader said: “Generative AI has evolved to one of the fastest user-adopted technologies, and as regulators and C-suite leaders struggle to keep up, it’s causing a sense of discontinuity, confusion, and even a loss of control among employees.” The research suggested 67% of respondents thought they might miss out on promotions through not knowing how to use AI, while 66% feared falling behind in work without using it. A lack of guidance from leaders on responsible usage was also found to be fueling new anxieties. Two-thirds (65%) of employees said they are anxious about not knowing how to use AI ethically, and a majority are concerned about the legal risks (77%) and cyber security risks (75%).


This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.