HRM’s diversity roundup: What’s going on in the world of discrimination?

Chloe Hava


written on September 12, 2017

Think it’s only women who face discrimination in the workplace? Think again. One company in the US has been taken to task for failing to acknowledge paternal rights. And, on the topic of parental rights, NSW women can still get fired for not telling prospective employers they are expecting. Finally, it appears that there’s a gender gap even when it comes to emails.

Men face workplace discrimination too, ok?

Just ask cosmetic giant Estee Lauder, who was sued by regulators in the US for not providing sufficient paternity leave to new fathers. While women get six weeks paid leave, men only get two. And it isn’t even called “paternity leave”; Estee Lauder refer to this period as “child bonding”.

On the homefront, it turns out Australian men aren’t taking advantage of their paid paternity leave. Research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development shows that only one in fifty Australian men takes paternity leave. Dr Amanda Cooklin from La Trobe University told the Sydney Morning Herald that this could be due to the pressures of traditionalism.

“Fatherhood is still synonymous with being the breadwinner. Many individual men really want to change this, but our workplaces haven’t shifted to accommodate that,” says Cooklin.

Pregnant women may catch a break

In accordance with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, there are two subsections that allow employers to  fire pregnant women who knew they were pregnant when they applied for the role.

However, NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqui is petitioning parliament to remove the sections from the Act. Due to the presence of these sections, pregnant women are often precluded from filing complaints with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Commission, says Faruqui.

Although a draft bill of the Anti-Discrimination Act in 2009 removed the two subsections, the changes were not seen through. Faruqui stated, “It is unacceptable that these discriminatory laws have been left unchanged after several reviews have recommended otherwise.”

Women email more than men

Women are apparently spending more time checking their emails per day than men, be it work or personal. A new study conducted by Adobe in the US about employee email use, reveals that women spend six hours per day using their email while men are spending an average of one hour less. And even though women are using their email for longer, they don’t feel like they are checking it enough.

The reasons behind this seemingly excessive emailing?

Nancy Halpern, principal at business development and talent management firm KNH Associates told Forbes that this is most likely due to women’s ability to multi-task. Halpern stated that women are also highly responsive creatures who are less likely to separate their work and home life.

Feel like you’re unnecessarily glued to your email? Halpern suggests:

  • Don’t use your email when on a break – just take a break!
  • Don’t be so hasty to respond – give a carefully considered response.
  • Establish specific zones and times where email is off limits.

Want to learn more about diversity initiatives in the workplace? Come along to AHRI’s Inclusion and Diversity Conferences In Canberra on 26 October and Melbourne on 2 November. Register online.

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