HR Policy Urges President Trump to Withdraw D&I Training Executive Order

HR Policy Association joined a large group of business associations in raising concerns about the impact of a recent executive order limiting federal contractors’ diversity and inclusion training.

The business community letter calls on President Trump to “work with the business and nonprofit communities on an approach that would support appropriate workplace training programs.”

Confusion and subjectivity:  “As currently written, we believe the E.O. will create confusion and uncertainty, lead to non-meritorious investigations, and hinder the ability of employers to implement critical programs to promote diversity and combat discrimination in the workplace... Furthermore, there is a great deal of subjectivity around how certain content would be perceived by different individuals.”

“Employers are concerned [the EO] will invite non-meritorious complaints from employees who may be disgruntled about a range of different matters” … and “[e]ven if a company is ultimately found to be in compliance, it will still have to undergo OFCCP’s investigative process, which represents a not insignificant burden.”

In California, polls are showing voters are likely to reject Proposition 16, a state ballot measure that would allow an applicant’s race and gender to be considered in public college admissions and public-sector hiring.  Despite a summer of racial justice activism, a recent poll found just 31% support Prop 16, while 47% lean no and 22% are undecided.

Going forward:  The business community is "firmly committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce and providing employees the necessary training to reinforce this goal.”

Contact D. Mark Wilson

Business Roundtable Announces Initiatives to Advance Racial Equity

The BRT announced corporate initiatives and public policy recommendations to reduce the economic opportunity gap in communities of color in employment, among other areas, calling for voluntary pay equity analyses and disclosure of key diversity metrics.

The BRT report includes the following corporate disclosure initiatives:

  • To track progress towards corporate diversity, the BRT supports voluntary public disclosure of key diversity metrics on at least an annual basis, including board diversity, senior executive diversity, workforce diversity and supplier diversity.

  • Companies should conduct periodic pay equity reviews and regular pay equity analyses, and implement processes to review and close gaps.

The report also supports the following health care reform recommendations:

  • Increase health coverage in communities of color through outreach and education efforts and by exploring ways to enroll eligible individuals in coverage automatically;

  • Expand reimbursement of telehealth services and ensure that states have the flexibility to offer a full year of Medicaid coverage to new moms;

  • Expand scholarship and loan repayment programs for minorities to address health care workforce shortages and bolster workforce diversity; and

  • Establish grant programs to help states and communities determine, implement and measure the most effective social determinants of health interventions for their needs and expand innovative payment models that address the social determinants of health.

Going forward:  BRT member CEOs “are stepping forward to make philanthropic investments, update employment practices and innovate within their businesses.”  They will continue to engage with policymakers to advocate for these changes.

Contact D. Mark Wilson

Tech Sector Unemployment Data Casts Doubt on Urgent Need for H-1B Rules

Data by the DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showing low unemployment rates in the tech sector contradict the Trump administration’s assessment that economic circumstances required the immediate implementation of restrictive rules on H-1B high-skill work visas.

The interim final rules on H-1B high-skill work visas tighten eligibility standards, raise wage requirements by about 30%, and apply greater scrutiny to employers with H-1B workers at third party work sites.  DHS predicts its rule will affect more than one third of H-1B petitions. 

The government asserted a "good cause" exemption to bypass the normal rulemaking process that would allow input by the public.  Both DOL and DHS cited an emergency need to address unemployment to implement their respective rules quickly. 

However, 2020's highest unemployment rate in computer and mathematical occupations—where the bulk of H-1B holders work—was 4.6% in August.  According to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, “since the year 2000 there have been 51 months with an unemployment rate in computer and mathematical occupations higher than 4.6% and no previous president or federal agency viewed those periods as requiring emergency measures to restrict legal immigration.”  The rate in September was 3.5%, up from 3.0% in January 2020.

The Department of Labor’s rule referred to April’s national unemployment rate of 14.7%, while the DHS rule cited August’s 10.2% unemployment rate and the unemployment rate of sectors that include landscaping services, waste management, and janitorial workers.  Neither of the rules released in October mentioned September’s 7.9% national unemployment rate or the 4.8% unemployment rate for individuals over 25 years old with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Why it matters:  The new data—by the federal government, no less—makes it more likely that federal courts will block the rules when challenged.

Contact Daniel Chasen

OFCCP Head to Discuss D&I Executive Order in Town Hall

Amid several important policy developments regarding federal contractor D&I initiatives, HR Policy Members are invited to attend an October 22 Institute for Workplace Equality town hall webinar featuring Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Craig Leen with participation by Association staff.

The town hall webinar will take place on October 22nd, 2020 at 2:00 P.M. ET.  You can register here

OFCCP has been at the center of several controversial developments regarding diversity and inclusion efforts by federal contractors.  Notably, President Trump recently issued an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from conducting training that promotes “any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating.”  The EO requires OFCCP to create a complaint hotline and investigate the claims it receives, take appropriate enforcement action, and provide remedial relief.

As noted in a separate story, the Association released a statement and signed a trade association letter in response urging the White House to withdraw the EO.  The statement asserts that “diversity and inclusion training and initiatives that promote eliminating unconscious bias play an important role in providing a workplace environment that provides equal opportunity for advancement for all employees.”

The OFCCP is additionally reviewing whether decisions by Microsoft and Wells Fargo to double the number of Black managers and executives at their companies may be racial discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  The review contrasts with federal contractors’ efforts to increase racial diversity and bring more Black and African American employees into leadership positions. 

These topics and more will be discussed during the town hall Zoom meeting.  The meeting is open to companies, trade associations, the press and the public.  For more information, please contact Ani Huang at

Contact Daniel Chasen

HR Policy Study Explores the Impact of COVID-19 on Companies in India

An HR Policy in India survey found that human resources and IT were the best prepared to address the COVID-19 crisis.  In addition, over two-thirds of respondents predicted a greater focus on cost management due to the pandemic, and 55% expected a greater need for upskilling.   

The survey of 305 companies was conducted by Dr. Sandeep Mann in April and May, with 37% of respondents from large or very large companies and 63% of respondents from the HR function. 

Focus on impact, immediate action, and future planning:  The survey found that global companies were better prepared for the pandemic, with 26% of all respondents stating they were well prepared, 42% stating they were somewhat prepared, and 32% stating they were not at all prepared.

Data shows productivity linked to preparedness:  The survey showed a considerable variation in preparedness across functions and companies.

  • IT and related services led in productivity with 29% reporting productivity remained at or about 75% of normal times,
  • 19% of well-prepared respondents saw an increase in productivity, and
  • Nearly 50% of respondents who claimed they were “not at all prepared” reported productivity dipped below 25%.

The most significant immediate reactions to the crisis were reengineering and hiring reductions.  Nearly 75% of respondents in sales/marketing, procurement and operations identified the need for reengineering compared to 54% of HR respondents.  Two thirds of respondents reported that they were reducing hiring, with over half of those reporting a hiring reduction of at least 21%.

For more information on India and other international markets, join our upcoming online Global sessions HR Policy Global – International Developments for CHROs on October 27th and 29th, and HR Policy India Webinar: 'Near Term HR Challenges and Potential Solution' on October 22nd

Contact Timothy Bartl

December Future Workplace Policy Council Conference to Examine Election Impact on Workplace Policy

What will the November election results mean for the future of workplace policy?  We invite you to join our Fall Future Workplace Policy Council Conference December 8–9 to hear from public policy experts, HR Policy staff, and member company representatives to discuss the implications of this potentially pivotal election.

This virtual conference is free to HR Policy member companies.

Expert panels will also explore the future implications of employee voice and D&I, respectively, in the wake of a tumultuous year and in addition to the post-election analysis. 

Guest speakers include: 

  • Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), a former labor lawyer who has been a strong advocate of employer interests throughout his tenure in Congress (2014–2021) 
  • Andy Stern, SEIU President (1996–2010) 
  • Oren Cass, Author, The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America 
  • Chai Feldblum, EEOC Commissioner (D; 2010–2019) 
  • Victoria Lipnic, EEOC Commissioner (R; 2010–2020) 
  • Wilma Liebman, NLRB Member and Chair (D; 1997–2010) 
  • Sharon Block, NLRB Member (D; 2012–2016) 
  • David Fortney, former Acting Solicitor of Labor 

Click here to access a conference agenda.

To register for the December 8–9 conference, click here.

Contact Daniel Yager

Policy Impact Series Examines Potential Explosion of Employer Liability

Future Workplace Policy Council Chair Johnna Torsone, CHRO of Pitney Bowes Inc., led a wide-ranging discussion about the changes in employment law a Democratic Congress could enact, which would substantially increase damages and exposure to class action lawsuits for large companies.  The panelists observed that the United States is already one of the most, if not the most, litigious countries in the world.

Arbitration agreements under fire:  AT&T Vice President, Associate General Counsel Stephen Mead described the value of employment arbitration agreements and protections most large company programs have in place for employees.  State and local governments are generally preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act from imposing restrictions on such agreements, but a new federal law could be in play.  Mr. Mead expressed hopes that Congress would consider alternatives to an outright ban that would protect programs that provide fair and efficient remedies for employees as an alternative to costly and lengthy litigation.

Potential overhaul of labor law remedies and procedures:  Senior Labor and Employment Counsel Roger King described provisions in the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act that would create a private right of action of alleged labor law violations.  King and Senior Workplace Advisor Dan Yager noted that such a change would undermine the current ability of the National Labor Relations Board to obtain a quick settlement of most claims with merit while dismissing those without.  The bill also would increase damages for labor law violations and expose company directors and officers to personal liability.

Why it’s important:  While a number of the changes are concerning on their own, the cumulative impact could require extensive increases in legal costs for employers over the long term.  This would be compounded by two other issues discussed on the call: expansion of joint employer liability and widespread conversion of independent contractors into employees.

Changes ahead:  Expansion of employer liability is one among many of the Association’s priority areas that will be impacted by the November election results.  In the weeks prior to the election, we will examine health care (October 21), and executive compensation (October 28).

For the slides used on the labor policy call and an overview of what CHROs need to know, click here.

Contact Daniel Yager

BEERG: In UK, Strict Employee Monitoring in Financial Sector Moves Home

As employee monitoring comes under scrutiny in the EU, the UK's financial sector regulator has warned financial services firms that staff who are working from home should be monitored as intensely as those who are back at their desks.

The UK Financial Conduct Authority is grappling with an unprecedented shift to remote working by the companies it supervises as banks, insurers, and asset managers seek to protect their staff from the coronavirus.

Traders and bankers normally work in strictly controlled offices, where phone lines are recorded and computer use is monitored to prevent market abuse.  In March, firms rushed to replicate the same scrutiny on staff who began working remotely.

Julia Hoggett, the regulator’s director of market oversight, said this week that there should be no difference in surveillance between different staffing arrangements.  “While scenarios emerged early in the pandemic where the usual levels of surveillance were not possible,” she said, “our experience suggests firms have now overcome these challenges.  Our expectation is that going forward office and working-from-home arrangements should be equivalent.”

Recently, the Data Protection Authority of Hamburg announced a record-setting fine of €35.2m (U.S. $41.3m) on H&M for "extensive recording of details about [employees’] private lives" in violation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.  While it appears the UK will soon leave the jurisdiction of the EU and therefore such scrutiny under the GDPR, the FCA’s position highlights the tension between employee privacy and certain requirements by regulators. 

Read the full BEERG Global Labor Newsletter here.

Contact Tom Hayes

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