Boeing bolsters learning; most staff think company DEI initiatives are ‘about right’

HR stories in the news this week: Boeing bolsters its learning benefits; most staff think their company's DEI initiatives are 'about right'

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May 19, 2023
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting Recruiting Stories of the Week.

Boeing to bolster learning benefits for staff

Aircraft maker, Boeing has announced it is celebrating 25 years of its staff education ‘Learning Together Program’ (LTP), by bolstering what it offers in an attempt to attract and retain more talent. Changes to the program include extending eligibility to it as soon as staff are hired, as well as providing more personalized academic coaching and support for non-native English speakers. The $70 million annual program supports staff to the tune of $25,000 per year for graduate degree programs and up to $15,000 for bachelor degree programs for tuition and eligible expenses. It also provides funding towards non-degree programs. Launched in 1998, LTP has helped more than 225,000 Boeing employee pursue new educational goals. Commenting on the improvements, Mike D’Ambrose, Boeing’s chief human resources officer and executive vice president, human resources said: “Investing in capabilities for Boeing’s future is one of the company’s key priorities.” He added: “Our people are essential for Boeing to innovate and grow. That’s why we place high importance on providing benefits that make a difference in their lives and careers. As Boeing employees innovate and excel, they enable us to deliver the support our customers rely on each day.”

Most staff say their company’s DEI initiatives are ‘about right’

New research by the Pew Research Center reveals that – broadly speaking – most staff think their company gets DEI initiatives ‘about right’. Researchers found the majority (54%) think their organization pay about the right amount of attention to increasing DEI while most (56%) say focusing on increasing diversity, equity and inclusion at work is mainly a good thing. Interestingly, a significant 28% say it is neither good nor bad, while 16% say it is a bad thing. The polling revealed that black workers are more likely than those in other racial and ethnic groups to say their employer pays too little attention to increasing DEI, while assessments of DEI initiatives also seems to follow party lines. The research found most Democratic and Democratic-leaning workers (78%) said focusing on DEI at work was a good thing, compared to 30% from Republicans and Republican leaners. Gender differences were found too: While half (or more) of both men and women say focusing on increasing DEI at work is a good thing, women are more likely than men to offer this view (61% vs. 50%). In turn, men are more than twice as likely as women to say it is a bad thing (23% vs. 9%).

HR failures sees racially abused worker awarded $140,000 in compensation

Failure by HR to investigate accusations of racial harassment against a worker at The Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington has resulted in the organisation being ordered to pay out $140,000 in damages. According to the result of a racial harassment complaint filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “Kaiser permitted an African-American employee to be harassed by her coworker’s repeated use of a version of the n-word and failed to take measures to stop the harassment despite repeated reports sent to the company’s human resources department.” According to the EEOC this conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employers to investigate and take steps to prevent racial harassment in the workplace. For its part, Kaiser said that it was “on a journey to strengthen our policies and eliminate bias, discrimination and racism in our workplaces and care settings.” It added: “Through this settlement we will be implementing additional training and processes to expedite investigations when claims of discrimination are raised.” Under the three-year consent decree settling the suit, Kaiser will pay $140,000 to the employee and will retain a consultant to review its Equal Employment Opportunity policies and procedures.

Minnesota legislates to protect warehouse workers from over-zealous targets

US News this week reports that lawmakers in Minnesota have narrowly passed a bill that gives greater protections to warehouses workers that have to meet productivity quotas. Under the bill, employers are required to provide each warehouse worker with a written description of any quotas, including details about how their work is measured and any action that might result in case they fail to meet quotas. But companies will now be prohibited from firing or taking any adverse actions against an employee for failing to meet a quota that has not been disclosed to them. It also says companies can’t implement productivity quotas that prevent workers from taking breaks, and allows the state to open an investigation if a company has an injury rate 30% or higher compared to its peers. The bill aims to protect workers at companies like Amazon, which has previously been accused of demanding draconian ‘performance expectations’ of its staff. Critics of productivity quotas claim safety becomes compromised with them, as staff are forced to work at too much of a fast-pace.

US charges ex-Apple employee of stealing secrets

A former Apple employee who fled to China, has been formally accused of stealing company secrets, The Department of Justice has revealed. It has charged the employee – identified as 35-year-old Weibao Wang – with theft of trade secrets and efforts to steal technology to benefit China, Russia and Iran. According to officials, Wang – who joined Apple in 2017 – resigned saying he was going to help to develop self-driving car technology at a new company in China. But, the indictment shows that in the days before his departure, Wang had accessed large amounts of proprietary data. Federal agents searched his home in June 2018 and found “large quantities” of data from Apple. Shortly afterwards Wang boarded a plane to China, the department said. So far, Apple has declined to comment on the case, which will be seen as a major embarrassment for the tech giant. Commenting on the charging, Matt Olsen, head of the justice department’s national security division, said: “We stand vigilant in enforcing US laws to stop the flow of sensitive technologies to our foreign adversaries. We are committed to doing all we can to prevent these advanced tools from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries.”

Job satisfaction reportedly at a 40-year high

Is this a case of lies, damned lies and statistics? New data seems to reject previous reports that Americans are the most disengaged they’ve ever been. According to the Conference Board’s Job Satisfaction 2023 report, the majority of US workers are actually feeling good about their jobs, reporting the highest level of satisfaction since the survey began in 1987. Polling queried 1,680 US workers about 26 different workplace benefits and scenarios, such as commuting, paid sick leave, family leave and potential for growth. The largest gains overall were experienced in work-life balance, which saw a jump of 5.8% compared with 2021. Fully hybrid workers were the most satisfied group, and enjoyed the most satisfaction around “pay, benefits, and access to training opportunities,” the report found. One negative, however, was that the report found women were less satisfied than men, particularly related to “recognition, performance reviews, growth potential, and communication channels.”

Independent workforce continues to grow

More than one in 25 working professionals in America is now classed as being independent workers – thanks to a big surge in numbers, according to data complied by the Freelancers Union and Fiverr – the site that connects businesses with freelancers. The research finds there are now 6.7 million independent professionals – a figure that is up 2.2% compared to 2021.Collectively 45% of independent workers offer professional services, charging an average of $103 per hour. A growing proportion of these workers are women – and the reasons they cite for wanting to be independent include wanting more flexibility (from 39% of women polled); wanting more enjoyment from their work (22%), and wanting to avoid unpleasant or toxic work environments. All-told, independent workers now represent 4.1% of the total US workforce. Commenting on the figures, Gali Arnon, CMO at Fiverr, said: “The US workforce has evolved drastically over the past year and freelancing has remained a viable option for those who favor flexibility and autonomy over their careers.” She added: “As the 9-5 role under a single employer becomes less of the norm, skilled independent professionals are primed to withstand shifts in the economy and workforce by their natural adaptability and entrepreneurial spirit.”







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