3 strange HR stories from the first week of 2018

Chloe Hava


written on January 5, 2018

From achieving gender equality in the northern hemisphere to workers down-under thinking it’s a good idea to hire strippers, HRM covers some of the most interesting stories from the first week of 2018.


Iceland’s gender parity victory

Happy new year! Particularly if you’re female and live and work in Iceland. The small northern isle mandated equal pay on New Year’s Day, making it illegal for companies to pay women less than men. The legislation passed parliament in June last year, and has now come into effect. Companies that employ 25 or more staff are required to comply. Both private companies and government agencies of this size are obliged to receive equal pay certification through audits, conducted every three years, or face a fine.

Iceland already had a pretty stellar record in terms of gender parity, coming out on top of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report for the last nine years. Australia, by comparison, ranks 35th. The new law was instituted in an attempt to close that gap.

Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind from the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association says of the legislation, “It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally. We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now but we still have a pay gap.”

Perhaps the strong presence of women in Icelandic parliament has something to do with the matter. In Iceland 48 per cent of the seats are currently held by women, whereas In Australia, women make up 32 per cent of parliament.

Can workplace bullying give you diabetes?

Yes, according to new research. A recent study conducted by medical journal Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) found that men who experienced bullying in the workplace were 61 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Women, however, were just over half as likely, at 36 per cent. The study was based on 45,905 Scandinavian participants who didn’t previously have diabetes.

So what is the link, you may ask? Rising stress levels. “Being bullied is regarded as a severe social stressor that may activate the stress response and lead to a range of downstream biological processes that may contribute towards the risk of diabetes,” says the study.

However, the line between bullying and diabetes cannot be definitively drawn. Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics at The Open University in the UK says that although the study was well conducted, “It’s important to understand that an observational study like this cannot establish beyond doubt that it is the bullying or violence that causes people to develop diabetes”.

“It’s possible, for instance, that people may have some characteristic that makes it more likely they will be bullied, and also, independently, makes it more likely that they will develop type 2 diabetes.”

Questionable Christmas party entertainment

Yes, more office Christmas party drama. Although this time, the offending occurred at an unofficial Christmas event, held by Yarra Trams staff at the company’s social club. Three employees have been suspended for hiring a “fat-o-gram” named “Chantelle” to spice-up the unsupervised event. Although the stunt was a comedic attempt and not a strip-show per-se, the joke backfired when two official complaints were made followed by a formal investigation.

The stunt may be a blow to Yarra Trams initiative to hire more women that was supposed to curtail it’s “blokey” reputation.

“The actions of the event organisers are unacceptable and do not align with Yarra Trams’ values,” says Yarra Trams spokesperson Amelia Carter. “Action is being taken to prevent this happening again.”

On the topic, how was your Christmas party? HRM has been wondering if it’s truly on the out, or whether that’s just noise. Let us know how your end of year event went in our survey.

Have an HR question? Access AHRI:ASSIST resources for HR guidelines, checklists and policy templates on different HR topics. Exclusive to AHRI members.

Photo by UN Women Gallery on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

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