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How to Assess Your EEO Situation as 2022 Comes to a Close

How to Assess Your EEO Situation as 2022 Comes to a Close

By early December, most of us are planning holiday dinners, parties, and how to spend time with friends and family during the extra days off this time of year [hopefully] provides. Syntrio hopes you have reached the end of 2022 healthy and in a better mental and physical place, as the memories of the past two pandemic-riddled years begin to fade and optimism and hope for the future rings anew. As we prepare to turn the calendar to 2023, it is critical that your organization assess where it is in the EEO space. The past year has shown that attention to culture (and specifically harassment, discrimination and diversity, equity and inclusion) is key to retaining high-quality employees in a time where economic circumstances make doing so far more critical than attracting and hiring new members of your team.

You may think your organization operates with a high-quality and positive culture, but unless you are routinely conducting cultural assessments, it is likely you are missing something. The following are a brief set of tools that can be used to determine whether your culture is on the path to avoidance of EEO issues, or whether there is something that you may need to improve upon in the coming year to continue moving your EEO program in the right direction. There are many ways to address each area, but doing so is critical to the sustainability of your program and your organizational culture.

Assess the Effectiveness of Your Speak Up and Listen Up Programs

It is critical for your workforce to easily, effectively, (and most importantly), comfortably address their concerns. In order to properly address EEO situations of all kinds, employees must know where to report. In order to identify deficiencies in a speak up program you must be asking the following questions:

  • Is the speak up policy readily available to employees at all levels?
  • Are you following the policy and are employees using it to raise complaints?
  • Have leaders effectively resolved issues and made employees comfortable there will be no adverse action taken?

If the answer is “no” to any of the previous questions, it may be time to re-think the speak up strategy. If you believe things are going so well that no employee has needed to raise a concern it may be time to take a hard look at whether something is missing. Failing to do so can be the first step toward allowing toxic cultural elements to permeate within the organization.

In order to assess a speak up program and its functionality, it is necessary to hear from the members of your workforce. A simple anonymous “Teams” based poll or forum for discussion on the matter can be all it takes to understand how employees feel about your practices, and better yet, can give you feedback on what may be missing. What is critical is the organization’s willingness to not only ask for feedback, but to take it seriously and do something about any issues that may arise during the assessment.

Review and be Accountable for Issues that may have Arisen

Too often, organizations are ignorant and dismissive to complaints and issues that have arisen in a period of time. This is a poor strategy because often these issues are our only metrics of potential workplace toxicity. Instead, it is important that leadership take time to meet and review any and all complaints and/or incidents that have arisen in the EEO space within the year in order to see whether they are isolated or part of a larger pattern. By doing so, your leadership can put the organization in good position to add additional protective measures in the coming year to hopefully reduce the potential for future incidents. Remember, use complaints and issues to formulate strategy, do not hide from them!

Revisit your Educational Offerings

Many organizations have made a commitment to cultural education that goes far beyond what is required by a state or municipality. This is a proactive approach that is well-received by employees. When an employer offers the bare minimum (mandatory harassment training) it is clear the education is only being offered to reduce the employer’s potential for liability. This strategy is proven ineffective and can even have the effect of excessive joking and offensive behavior on “training day.”

What is effective is a comprehensive program of cultural improvement education that is clearly for the benefit of the workforce first (with the tangential benefit of incident prevention for the organization). When looking to expand educational offerings focus on critical issues such as bystander intervention, mindfulness and civility and respect. Each of these areas help employees deal with issues that arise in their daily lives, both at and away from work.  When employers are open to offering expanded education that clearly benefits the employee, the workforce is more receptive to the totality of the package, and will see its effectiveness increase.

Following a Year-End Review Syntrio is Available to Assist

Each of the foregoing strategies must start with leadership, and its commitment to improving the culture within the organization. Part of your end of year assessment should involve evaluating whether leadership is committed to “practicing what is preached,” as employees are quick to see through superficial efforts. Syntrio would be proud to partner with your organization in its efforts to make your organization a better place to work. We offer a wide range of communication and education tools that can help to fill gaps in your cultural improvement efforts. We would welcome the opportunity to speak with a member of your team about how we can help you now and into 2023!

Since 2007, Jonathan has practiced labor and employment law on behalf of management. Jonathan focuses his practice on advising employers on the prevention of harassment and discrimination issues, with an emphasis on providing in-person harassment training programs to companies of all sizes. Jonathan is licensed in California, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and maintains a national advice practice.

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