More than 70% of crises that make the headlines are caused by decisions that management has control over. That was the conclusion of James Rubin and Barie Carmichael in their book, “Reset: Business and Society in the New Social Landscape.”
What the authors pointed out are new and emerging sources for social risk. They cited race and gender pay equity, a next gen talent arms race, missed opportunities involving the disabled, AI bias, full employment blowback, and board-level social risk as areas of future potential crises. Here are some ways to avoid trouble.
RACE AND GENDER PAY EQUITY
Although gender pay differences have been decreasing, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) predicts that there won’t be any equality until 2139. 64% of women and 54% of the men surveyed by hired.com believe racial pay gaps still exist. The firm also reported that black and Hispanic women are paid the least.
Companies interested in bringing about equity should do an internal audit of their own companies comparing similar jobs with pay between men and women, minorities and white. If a significant difference is discovered, the solution is rather clear and should be addressed with the HR and legal departments sooner than later.
Competition for bright and talented X-generation workers will continue to escalate as the value of digital marketing becomes even more vital to a company’s success. Creating an environment where employees are not only rewarded but also appreciated will be invaluable in attracting and retaining this demographic.
In companies where diversity is a priority, so, too, should be an emphasis on the disabled community. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of disabled people represents 20% of the available workforce in the country.
Providing reasonable accommodation as required by law and any pertinent medical and/or psychometric assessments appropriate for certain jobs, are the only other considerations for companies wishing to hire the disabled. Not only does pursuing this avenue enhance a company’s reputation, but it’s also been found to educate and sensitize co-workers as well.
AI depends upon data fed into it to make decisions and offer up answers and choices. Companies first need to identify, then eliminate biases in its data and conduct annual reviews for that same purpose.
FULL EMPLOYMENT BLOWBACK
While full employment may be good for full expansion of the national economy, the downside is that it also tends to foster and perpetuate the inequities we’ve been addressing. Those factories that adopted dual wage scales during the Great Recession would do best to reassess things and move to equity.
BOARD LEVEL SOCIAL RISK
Community, as well as employee activism is at its highest level. Astute companies and their boards would be wise to consider and implement a social management system. Such a system assesses and minimizes the social impact of a company’s actions as well as those of its board members.
Full employment is probably the biggest challenge for companies wishing to address all of the issues raised by Rubin and Carmichael. How do companies reach out to these communities when employment is at an all-time high? One answer may be to age and assess the current workforce while moving the agendas forward as workers retire and leave for other jobs.