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Panel rules against Orono school in transgender bathroom access – Bangor Daily News: “The Maine Human Rights Commission ruled Monday that Orono Middle School unlawfully discriminated against a sixth-grader during the 2008-2009 school year by not letting the male-to-female transgender student use the girls’ bathroom.

This is the same student whose parents filed a similar discrimination complaint against Asa Adams Elementary School in Orono when their child was a fifth grader there during the 2007-2008 school year. That case resulted in the same ruling against the school district in June 2009.

Also Monday, the commission members again began talks about developing anti-discrimination guidelines specifically for schools under the Maine Human Rights Act.”


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Diversity’s Dynamic Dozen

Posted on 4. November 2010 by Erik Samdahl

i4cp has released a new employee diversity report today that reveals 12 key diversity practices that are shared by high-performance organizations.

Working closely with an exclusive group of member companies including organizations such as Deloitte, ING, Pelco, Amway and the Federal Reserve Board, i4cp conducted a comprehensive survey of organizational diversity practices. Mindful that global economic turmoil has forced some organizations to shift resources away from such programs in order to survive the recession, i4cp focused on the question of what diversity and inclusion success looks like, particularly in terms of what it means to an organization’s bottom line. Through this process, i4cp and the working group uncovered 12 key diversity practices that are shared by high-performance organizations and are correlated with financial success.

Though many diversity practices are logically tied to factors such as organization size and global reach, i4cp found that top-performing companies place explicit emphasis on specific aspects of diversity. By combining analysis of those behaviors with other demographic variables, the report identifies 12 key practices that link effective diversity initiatives to higher market performance.

For example, high performance companies:

  • Are more likely to build the business case for diversity on the need to reflect their customer base and community demographics. This is practiced by more than a quarter of high-performance companies (26%), versus 10% of low performers.

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by Valerie Cade

A youngster who surrenders his lunch money to another child’s threats and an employee who is publicly and continually demeaned by his boss may both be experiencing the same phenomenon: bullying. While the term “bullying” is often associated with children, it is very common to see the same type of behavior in a work setting.

Not all negative workplace behavior is bullying, however. People can be unhappy with their job or have some control issue and become hurtful to fellow employees. They might spew their frustration on whoever provides the excuse, regretting it later on. If confronted with their shortcomings, they may acknowledge that they overreacted and may even apologize if confronted. In these scenarios, they are attempting to cope, rather than specifically targeting another person.

What, then, is bullying in the workplace?

It is repeated, deliberate, disrespectful behavior, which harms the target, by one or more people toward another for their own gratification.

Let’s look more closely at that definition.

First, the behavior that the bully uses is deliberate. The bully intends to hurt her target and is very focused, repeatedly attacking the same person…

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A youngster who surrenders his lunch money to another child’s threats and an employee who is publicly and continually demeaned by his boss may both be experiencing the same phenomenon: bullying. While the term “bullying” is often associated with children, it is very common to see the same type of behavior in a work setting.

Not all negative workplace behavior is bullying, however. People can be unhappy with their job or have some control issue and become hurtful to fellow employees. They might spew their frustration on whoever provides the excuse, regretting it later on. If confronted with their shortcomings, they may acknowledge that they overreacted and may even apologize if confronted. In these scenarios, they are attempting to cope, rather than specifically targeting another person.

What, then, is bullying in the workplace?

It is repeated, deliberate, disrespectful behavior, which harms the target, by one or more people toward another for their own gratification.

Let’s look more closely at that definition.

First, the behavior that the bully uses is deliberate. The bully intends to hurt her target and is very focused, repeatedly attacking the same person…

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Men in HR-A National Geographic Exclusive

Posted on 23. September 2010 by UpstartHR
Men in Human ResourcesIf you peel back the foliage, you can get a glimpse of the elusive “male HR professional.” This is a rare find indeed, and we don’t want to spook him, so we’ll just stand back and watch him awkwardly navigate the waters of his career as the only male in a hundred mile radius…

Has it always been this way?

I can still remember the first time I walked into a NASHRM event and looked around. There were about a hundred people in the room. Of that number the six guys (including me) stuck out like sore thumbs. It kind of made me laugh, because I’ve never worked in a job where the men outnumbered the women. It doesn’t really bother me, but I’ve always been a little curious about why the imbalance occurs.

I don’t want to lay any blanket statements on the ladies out there, but my little experience seems to point to most of them focusing on compliance and how to keep things “safe.” More of the males, however, seem to be focused on how to keep the goals moving forward and holding onto the strategic focus.

Like I said, I don’t like blanket statements and generalities, because I’ve certainly met dozens of female HR pros with a high strategic focus. However, due to the high percentage of women overall, there certainly are a lot of them who are doing that compliance work…

Steve Browne brings it


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Transgender Law Institute at Lavender Law

Posted on 3. September 2010 by Jillian Weiss

We held our first Transgender Law Institute at the National LGBT Bar Association’s Lavender Law Conference last Thursday.

We had about 75 people in attendance, from all over the country. It was an amazing gathering of talent, and I felt honored to chair the conference committee.

The Committee itself was amazing – Prof. Jennifer Levi of GLAD, Prof. Julie Greenberg of Thomas Jefferson Law School, Seth Marnin of Outten & Golden, Dru Levasseur of Lambda Legal, and Matt Wood of the Transgender Law Center. If you don’t know who these people are, they’re well worth looking up. They’re committed lawyers and scholars who have each contributed a tremendous amount to trans legal issues.

Here’s the agenda for the Transgender Law Institute along with the hypotheticals we used, and a list of resources available for download.

Some of these hypotheticals were quite interesting, and I think everyone learned a lot about how to protect the rights of trans clients. Here’s one example, that I presented with the wonderful Denise Brogan-Kator of the Rainbow Law Center in Michigan:


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Abercrombie & Fitch Sued Over Hijab

Posted on 2. September 2010 by HR Lori

Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), the beautiful-youth oriented retail store known more for the pecs on their male models than they are for the quality of their clothing, has had a lot of trouble in the employment arena over the past few years.

On April 14, 2005, Judge Susan Illston of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted final approval to a settlement of Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch. The settlement requires the company to pay $40 million to several thousand minority and female plaintiffs who charged the company with discrimination. The settlement also requires the company to institute a range of policies and programs to promote diversity among its workforce and to prevent discrimination based on race or gender.

Yet despite these settlements, further lawsuits have plagued the corporation. It seems that A&F is being sued for a second time for discrimination around the wearing of a hijab. In the most recent case filed by the EEOC, it is alleged that the employee was not allowed to wear her hijab because it violated the (well-disregarded) “Look Policy”.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.– National clothing retail giant Abercrombie & Fitch, doing business as Abercrombie Kids, allegedly discriminated against a 17-year-old Muslim by refusing to hire her because she wore a hijab, or head scarf, in observance of her sincerely held religious beliefs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in discrimination lawsuit filed today in federal court.


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A Transgender Spiritual Retreat

Posted on 1. September 2010 by Jillian Weiss

I’m off for a few days of renewal and self-reflection to Hot Springs, North Carolina.

It’s been an incredibly busy summer, not the quiet one I hoped for.

Kindred Spirits is “a global network based in the Southern Appalachians near Asheville, North Carolina since 1993.” They put on a spiritual retreat every year where people get together to think about and be in the presence of the “spirit of transgender.”

A friend told me about it, and it sounded awesome. So we’re driving down together.

“Each of our four days together, we share in daily sacred circles. Our Laurel River hike culminates in a ritual swim-frolic. Special teaching sessions will be offered by some of our veteran attendees, often including various intuitive and shamanic sorts of work. Our ceremonies climax on an ancient Cherokee bald mountaintop with a 360-degree vista. This retreat can be a life-changing experience for you, connecting with your trans-spiritual family, as well as launching you further along your own spiritual path. You are encouraged to bring your own unique visions and expertise to share within this powerful gathering of your own kindred spirits.”


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“When I Was A Little Boy, I Prayed To God”

Posted on 1. September 2010 by Jillian Weiss

Several years ago, my synagogue asked me to write something about being transgender and Jewish.Jill022.jpg

I grew up very, very devoutly religious, and I felt terrible about my feelings inside. It hurt me every day. Can you see it in that little face?

The piece has been published in our prayer book, Siddur B’chol L’vav’cha (which means “With All Your Heart,” a reference to the injunction in Deuteronomy 6:5 to love God with all your heart).

I thought you might find it interesting.

Growing up very religious, and believing very deeply, I thought a lot about God.

This prayer is about how I felt about being trans, and my relationship with God, as a young person in my pre-teen and early teen years, and how that resolved as I grew older.


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A Woman with the Courage to Speak Up

Posted on 25. August 2010 by Respectful Workplace

I wrote this en route, flying home after delivering Speak Up: Speak Out – Personal Power and Respect in the Workplace, one of most popular presentations I developed after publishing Road to Respect last year.

Speak Up: Speak out is intended to empower employees to speak up about disrespect at work. I make the case in Road to Respect that disrespect is a non-issue when workplace leaders make a strategic decision to build a values based culture where respect is a core value, where respect simply becomes “the way it is around here”. However, I also know that it is going to take a long, long time for respectful behavior to become a norm in most workplaces. In the meantime, I want to do what I can to empower employees, to ensure they realize that they have power, that they can make a choice to speak up rather than put up and shut up about disrespect at work. I challenge them at the end of the session to speak up, to take action to create a more respectful workplace for themselves and those they work with.

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Skype Chief Development Officer Resigns

Posted on 18. August 2010 by HR Lori

TechCrunch announced today that Madhu Yarlagadda, Skype’s incoming Chief Development Officer, has resigned from his position. Mr. Yarlagadda’s resignation comes one month after negative comments about him as well as his subsequent influence upons other to obtain positive comments on a TechCrunch post were brought to his employer’s attention.

The New York Times says he left after scathing comments on TechCrunch about his new role at Skype came to the attention of Skype executives. The post they’re referring to has dozens of extremely detailed negative comments about Yarlagadda, although we’ve deleted the worst of them. That level of uniform negativity was unprecedented in our experience.


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2010 Corporate Diversity Report

Posted on 18. August 2010 by Jason

Diversity Recruiting continues to be on both Executives and Recruiting minds.  It’s also on the mind of Senator Robert Menendez, our only Hispanic Senator.  Menendez recently stated “As Chair of the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force, one of my top priorities has always been promoting and expanding diversity at all levels of our [...]

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Respect – It’s that Simple

Posted on 9. August 2010 by Respectful Workplace

When you ask people what defines diversity in a business setting, the things that often come to mind are race, religion, gender and age. While an obvious mix of these characteristics in your personnel pool is the most observable measure to claim diversity in your workforce, these descriptors just barely scratch the surface of what truly makes an organization diverse. More importantly, they do not address the critical topics of how diversity is managed and how it impacts business. The trend toward increased diversity in the American workforce isn’t good or bad, it’s just the way it is and the way it will be in the future. What will allow organizations to engage their diverse workforces and thrive amidst this demographic shift is simple. RESPECT.

Any discussion of respect, at least within the context of diversity, must start with a simple understanding of the term. Respect is an ongoing behavior pattern that promotes increased awareness and acceptance of differences in individuals’ beliefs, styles and backgrounds, as well as their physical, ancestral, geographic or socio-economic makeup.  While you may think that a roomful of 50-year-old white males is not particularly diverse, once you look below the surface into political beliefs, favorite sports, educational backgrounds, sexual orientation, and (the big one in Northeast Ohio) East side vs. West side, you’ll find literally hundreds of characteristics that make many of them completely unique. Respect is the process and vehicle that allows unique people to engage and work with other unique people in a manner that benefits all.

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Proactive Respect

Posted on 9. August 2010 by Respectful Workplace

It’s been said for several years that respect is an active process. But within that process we are finding both passive and active respect.

I was recently working with a group in a workshop I conduct called, “Crash the Barrier; Build the Team”. I was not only working toward helping this team pull together, I was also exploring passive and active respect.

During one of the exercises one of the team members was put out of the group as a part of the exercise. Later that person was brought back in the group. During our debriefing it was observed the person was not completely comfortable returning to the group. As we discussed this deeper it became apparent the group had “made a place” for this person but had not “invited them in”. It was nothing short of stunning.

Let’s examine how a new employee comes into a company. They go through an interview procedure, get an offer, accept the offer, agree on a start date and then show up at work on the well known, “first day on the job.” Then an email and/or a voice mail is sent out telling everyone to say “hi” and to welcome the new hire to the company. The new employee is taken around, introduced and shown their desk.

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Respect, Dignity and Disability Management in the Workplace

Posted on 9. August 2010 by Respectful Workplace

You may be familiar with the 2005 Honda decision, where an employee that was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome was fired for insubordination due to his refusal to submit to a medical assessment from the company specialist. What distinguishes this decision from many others was the amount of the damages award – $500,00 in punitive damages, the highest ever awarded by a Canadian court in an employment case.

The case reminded me of a time when I used to write attendance policy manuals. I would put in sample scripts for the managers to use as guidelines for conducting employee interviews relating to problematic attendance. To my dismay, I found out that some managers were conducting interviews with the script in hand, reading it verbatim and following it, with little if any regard for what the employee they were dealing with was saying. I had intended the script as a guide, not a formula!

The Honda decision demonstrates for me what often goes so very wrong in managing these types of challenging cases in the workplace. And there is no doubt that managing employees with chronic absenteeism is challenging. It is time consuming and complex, particularly when dealing with absenteeism related to a disability, including disabilities related to addiction, and some of the “invisible” disabilities, like chronic fatigue syndrome, which was what Mr. Keays, the employee in the Honda decision, suffered from. New syndromes seem to be cropping up every day, and the list of disabilities we have to accommodate is growing with no end in sight.

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