5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: March 9

As the saying goes, the news never stops. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories impacting American workplaces and communities.

1. Report Shows Women are 132 Years Away from Gender Equality

The Global Gender Gap Index, which benchmarks gender parity across four dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment), has been released for 2022 by the World Economic Forum.

The report covers 146 countries and provides a basis for cross-country analysis, with a subset of 102 countries represented in every edition of the index since 2006, providing a sample for time series analysis. The results show that globally, the gender parity score rose from 67.9% in 2021 to 68.1% in 2022, but at the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years to completely close the global gender gap.

According to the report, no country has achieved full gender parity, but the top 10 economies have closed at least 80% of their gender gaps, with Iceland leading the rankings. The report identifies trends toward gender parity for each subindex since 2006, revealing that Economic Participation and Opportunity and Political Empowerment still have a significant way to go, while Educational Attainment is on track to close the gap in the next 22 years. In terms of regional results, North America leads all regions, followed closely by Europe.

This data highlights the need to “Embrace Equity,” which was the 2023 theme for International Women’s Day on March 8. Read more about how this relates to recognizing women in the workplace.

2. DEI Layoffs Undermining Corporate Pledges

The pledges and promises made after George Floyd’s murder in 2020 led to many companies expanding the talent footprint of their DEI offices. But as an article from Bloomberg Law notes, recent layoffs have seen many of those DEI hires, many of whom are people of color, laid off.

A February study from Revelio Labs shows that DEI roles have been cut at a higher rate than all others since July of 2022, particularly at tech companies where layoffs have made national headlines.

Attrition rates for DEI roles have been on the rise at companies that have laid off workers since late 2020 but have seen a stark increase over the last six months. Critics of the layoffs say that it shows how serious many companies were when they made the hires initially, the evidence coming in the layoffs now that DEI isn’t in the news each day and the topic isn’t trending on social media platforms as often.

Experts warn that regressing on DEI efforts and staff now sends a message to prospective talent and current employees that the company was never serious about DEI to begin with, damaging both their employer brand and employee morale.

“I think the most important thing employers must consider is the message they’re sending,” Jean Lee, President and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, told Bloomberg. “That affects your brand and communication.”

3. ADP Report: US Private Sector Adds 242,000 Jobs in February with 7.2% YOY Pay Increase

Private sector employment increased by 242,000 jobs in February, and annual pay was up 7.2% year-over-year, according to the February ADP National Employment Report produced by ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Stanford Digital Economy Lab. (ADP is No. 14 on DiversityInc’s 2022 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.)

The ADP National Employment Report uses anonymized payroll data from over 25 million US employees to provide a snapshot of the labor market, including monthly employment changes and weekly job data from the previous month. ADP’s pay measure tracks earnings of almost 10 million employees over a year.

Nela Richardson, chief economist of ADP, stated that “there is a tradeoff in the labor market right now. We’re seeing robust hiring, which is good for the economy and workers, but pay growth is still quite elevated. The modest slowdown in pay increases, on its own, is unlikely to drive down inflation rapidly in the near term.”

4. NLRB Rules Employers Cannot Require Laid-off Workers to Stay Silent About Severance Terms

The US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has overturned a ruling that previously allowed employers to demand that laid-off workers sign confidentiality agreements in exchange for severance pay. The 2020 ruling that made such clauses a binding part of severance agreements has now been invalidated, and companies can no longer stop departing workers from disclosing information about their employment or departure terms. In a 3-1 decision, the board found that such agreements deter employees from exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Although the ruling doesn’t apply to managers, independent contractors, public service employees or supervisors, it affects almost all private sector employers. While there may be workarounds for employers, such as including a disclaimer in agreements about Section 7 rights, business owners who have used non-disparagement agreements in the past are advised to work with counsel to modify the language to meet NLRB requirements.

It is uncertain whether the ruling will survive appeals or the possibility of a Republican administration in 2024 returning to previous Board precedent. Meanwhile, employers who attempt to enforce such provisions may be cited for unfair labor practice. The easiest solution for firms is to avoid including the clauses in the first place.

5. ‘Hush Trips’ on the Rise for Remote Workers

“Hush trips” are a new trend among remote workers, where employees take a vacation without telling their employer or colleagues and use the time to catch up on work. The practice has sparked a debate among experts, with some arguing that it can be a helpful way to reduce burnout and increase productivity, while others caution that it can be counterproductive and damage workplace trust.

Advocates of hush trips say that they provide a way for employees to take a break from the office while still being productive, without the pressure of having to be constantly available. They argue that by taking a few days off, workers can recharge and come back to work refreshed and more productive.

Critics, on the other hand, argue that hush trips can be counterproductive and lead to a breakdown in trust between employees and their employers. They say that by taking a vacation without telling anyone, employees risk damaging workplace relationships and undermining their own credibility.

Overall, the decision to take a hush trip is a personal one and depends on the individual’s work style and relationship with their employer. While it may be a helpful way to reduce burnout and increase productivity for some, it may not be appropriate or effective for everyone. It is important for employees to communicate with their employers about their needs and workloads, and to find a balance that works for both parties.


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