Category Archives: 3. News You Can Use

The Collision of Religion and the Workplace

Dealing with religious matters in the workplace is such hot-button issue that a Harvard lecturer labeled it “one of the last taboos.” Yet deal with the matter businesses must, because religious discrimination is a reality that managers are being forced to confront. The problem is that most companies do not have policies in place to do so.

Recent cases about religious discrimination in the workplace have made their way to the Supreme Court, reinforcing the urgency of this situation. One of the most high-profile suits involved a 17-year-old girl whose job application was rejected by Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a hijab. The fashion retailer claimed her religious headdress went counter to its dress code and brand identity because Abercrombie’s image is clearly defined to market to “cool, good-looking people.”

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the young woman, citing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which states it is illegal to “refuse to hire… because of … individuals’ race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” However, on appeal, the decision was reversed in favor of Abercrombie. The basis of the reversal was that the woman should have made her need for religious accommodation clear when she originally applied for the position.

This back and forth highlights just how problematic the issue is. Many organizations feel justified to create policies that reinforce their brand, as Abercrombie did. However, employers’ policies do not trump the individual’s right to religious freedom, and that is where the problem lies.

Legal experts note that the law does not require employers to honor every request about religious issues an employee requests; they just have to make “reasonable accommodations.” In the end, however, experts point out that employers always look for a good fit with their employees. Experts point out that employers always look for new-hires who get along and can work with their existing employees. The question is whether this understandable desire for “finding a good fit” could lead to discrimination, and whether “reasonable accommodations” is easy to define.

Discussion

  1. What could be the advantages of hiring people from minority religious affiliations and backgrounds?
  2. What might be potential challenges?
  3. Why do you think more issues surrounding religion in the workplace are cropping up now?

From Harvard Business Review

 

 

Why Company Culture Is Important to Job Seekers

The term “company culture” is bandied about in the business world. But what is it, and why does it even matter?

A company’s culture refers to the way an organization presents itself to its stakeholders, including staff, and often includes components that affect workplace atmosphere such as work environment, flexibility, mission, and ethics. It’s similar to a personality—some will be attracted to it, others repelled. For example, if a company’s culture values a workplace in which all employees collaborate in an open workspace, that company’s culture will clash with an individual who works best alone. However, if an organization values community volunteerism and a potential hire possesses a solid volunteering track record, the two can be a good fit.

 

When an employee and a company are a good fit, the employee will be happier on the job and perform better. It works the other way, too. If the employer and employee fit is poor, the result will be subpar for both, so it pays for job seekers to research a company’s culture and look for elements that lead to a good fit.

 

Below are questions to consider when examining a company’s culture.

 

  • How does the company describe itselfto the world? What words does the firm use to explain who it is, what it does, and why it does it? The way an organization talks about itself is a good measure of the way it operates.

 

  • How do employees refer to their organization? Are current workers positive ambassadors of the company? What employees say about their firmshows a lot about how a potential hire can expect to feel working there.

 

  • Is turnover a problem? If a company churns through people, it’s likely that the culture is not supportive or worse, hostile.

 

We spend too many hours at our jobs to work in an organization that isn’t a good fit. Researching company culture before onboarding pays long-lasting dividends.

 

Discussion

 

  1. What are some ways to look into a company’s culture prior to an interview?
  2. During an interview, how could the job seeker learn more about the organization’s culture?
  3. How can you define what kind of a culture will be the best fit for you?

A company’s culture refers to the way an organization presents itself to its stakeholders, including staff, and often includes components that affect workplace atmosphere such as work environment, flexibility, mission, and ethics. It’s similar to a personality—some will be attracted to it, others repelled. For example, if a company’s culture values a workplace in which all employees collaborate in an open workspace, that company’s culture will clash with an individual who works best alone. However, if an organization values community volunteerism and a potential hire possesses a solid volunteering track record, the two can be a good fit.

When an employee and a company are a good fit, the employee will be happier on the job and perform better. It works the other way, too. If the employer and employee fit is poor, the result will be subpar for both, so it pays for job seekers to research a company’s culture and look for elements that lead to a good fit.

Below are questions to consider when examining a company’s culture.

  • How does the company describe itselfto the world? What words does the firm use to explain who it is, what it does, and why it does it? The way an organization talks about itself is a good measure of the way it operates.
  • How do employees refer to their organization? Are current workers positive ambassadors of the company? What employees say about their firmshows a lot about how a potential hire can expect to feel working there.
  • Is turnover a problem? If a company churns through people, it’s likely that the culture is not supportive or worse, hostile.

We spend too many hours at our jobs to work in an organization that isn’t a good fit. Researching company culture before onboarding pays long-lasting dividends.

Discussion

  1. What are some ways to look into a company’s culture prior to an interview?
  2. During an interview, how could the job seeker learn more about the organization’s culture?
  3. How can you define what kind of a culture will be the best fit for you?

Collaboration is King

Play nicely with others is a phrase we often hear in childhood, but recently that characteristic has become one of the most desired in business leaders.

While being cutthroat to get to the top used to be a common occurrence, today’s CEOs need to demonstrate a high degree of collaboration. However, getting to the top means competing with others for the position, and competition and collaboration can be conflicting ingredients in the recipe for success.

Competing cooperatively is the key, and a recent Wall Street Journal article explains how some strivers have done just that. For example, one of the most common problems among people vying for high-level positions occurs when one individual steals credit for another’s accomplishments. In this situation, an internal mentor should be called in to alert decision makers of the situation.

Another strategy for competitors is to agree to be positive and avoid denigrating one another. Positivity is a valued trait, especially in a leader. Some experts advise going beyond a positive attitude to actually support those competing for a position internally. Contenders for a position who demonstrate their ability to work with competitors and help the team attain success actively avoid any hint of sabotaging their rival. Doing so can forge strong connections that last throughout a career.

Discussion Questions

  1. In which specific ways can collegiality in the workplace be helpful to an individual’s career?
  2. Can you think of reasons for rivals to support one another?
  3. Why is taking credit for something you have not done a poor long-term strategy for success?