Sometimes clients ask me relative to gender:
1. Would it be gender discrimination if we do X?
2. Does the law require that we do Y?
Of course, we need to start with the legal imperative. But, as HR professionals, we know we must transcend the legal imperative and focus on the business necessity (and moral obligation) to ensure gender equality.
For example, some subtle harassment may not be severe or pervasive enough to rise to the level of actionable harassment. But it very well may create a place where women don’t want to work so they take their talent and contacts to a competitor.
Another example: the law generally does not mandate that employers provide flexibility to help employees with work-life management. But rigid employers will lose talented women (and men) to employers who get that flexibility and accountability are not inconsistent if managed correctly.
To paraphrase Sheryl Sandberg’s message in Lean In, organizations cannot survive, let alone thrive, if they exclude half of the pool of talent. So, HR professionals lean in hard on the business case for gender equality or you may find successful women and women of promise “leaning out” rather than “leaning in.”
This blog is not legal advice, should not be construed as applying to specific factual situations or as establishing an attorney-client relationship.
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