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As diversity, equity and inclusion efforts proliferate, Stephen Paskoff, President and CEO of ELI, warns in this podcast that organizations need to be mindful of existing equal employment laws. Allowing for differential treatment, no matter how well intended, can lead to claims of discrimination.
The intentions of DE&I programs are not, in and of themselves an issue, he explains. The issue arises from how these initiatives are pursued. Some employers have permitted conduct that can be seen as disparate treatment, even bordering on fostering a form of systemic discrimination. He notes that it can be highly problematic if systems of advancement give an advantage to one group without sufficient grounding in legal principles.
He recommends keeping the law clearly in mind since it is both supportive of DE&I initiatives and can help avoid problems.
He also advises looking to the organization’s value. Respect, inclusion and fairness are typically included and provide an opportunity to put the DE&I initiative in context, including that these values helps build a stronger, more successful enterprise.
He also argues passionately for an emphasis on civility. Setting standards of what one can can’t say, and how people act, is essential not just in this area but in others as well. It promotes proper communication, including helping people raise issues and speak up freely. That, in turn, can help diffuse issues and enable the organization to deal with problems before they grow too large.
Civility, according to Stephen, also provides a platform of consistency that everyone can sign onto as citizens of their organizations.
Listen in to learn more about civility and how to ensure that your DE&I initiative doesn’t run afoul of labor laws.