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Corporate Image and Brand Name

Published October 4, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

 

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There are many components that define a corporate image to help it stand apart from a corporate brand name. For example, in the past, many international travelers jokingly referred to the BA acronym of British Airways to mean Bloody Awful. This was a reflection of the negative corporate image they developed due to the onslaught of consumer complaints that surfaced with respect to the incompetent manner in which the airlines operated and treated their customers. This research provides a brief analysis on the topics of corporate images, their brand names, and the significant components that differentiate them. In addition, the study will disclose how they are related and provide further examples to help illustrate these concepts. The findings of this research will conclude that even though brands names are assigned to goods or services, there are many components that make them stand apart from a corporate image and that ultimately, the unification of these two components, serve to effectively communicate what the company represents to help shape the attitude of their shareholders.

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Corporate Image

One of the most significant components of a corporate image is that it communicates the benefits of a company’s goods and services that appeal to consumer emotions. Ross (2010) explains that a corporate image should represent the following three components: (a) the company’s story, (b) their core purpose, and (c) the promises they make to consumers. In short, a corporate image reflects the organization’s reputation that will ultimately live on in the memories of consumers. To put it another way, a corporate image is what consumers say about a company, not about what a company says about themselves. In addition, a corporate image can help shape and influence the decisions consumers make and the actions they take (Ross, 2010). For instance, when many individuals think of a company like Denny’s, images immediately flood their head including tasty food, a welcoming atmosphere, and heartwarming family gatherings. These images reflect positive experiences with the restaurant chain. Positive emotions translate to feelings of joy and comfort which in turn produces loyal consumers. Successful companies like Denny’s, Honda, and Nike provide excellent illustrations of companies that have established strong corporate images. In fact, they have experienced unprecedented success because they all incorporate a mission as part of their corporate image. These identify what the company stands for and are usually revealed in the tag lines of their ads to support the company image or brand.

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Simply explained, a corporate image summarizes what the company stands for and the feelings they emote from their customers. In addition, Vincent (2012) purports that equally important to a company’s image or brand, is that they keep the promises they make and deliver a powerful experience (Vincent, 2012). For example, when people think of the Disney Company, many images and feelings are evoked depending on a person’s experience with the company or their family offshoots, like the Disney theme parks, or the many Disney movies that may have had a profound impact on them. This is yet another example of how a memorable experience with an organization can influence consumer emotions in both positive and negative ways. What an individual feels after their experience interacting with a company, whether happy, more confident, or embarrassment and defeat, are all components that help shape a company’s corporate image. Companies that display consistent behavior, communicate clear messages, and keep their promises, can guide investments and grow substantially regardless of budget constraints or time crunches whether they are a startup, a nonprofit, or a big conglomerate like a Nike or Disney.

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The negative feelings many people had about British Airlines, for instance, mentioned at the beginning of this research, presents another excellent case of the impact a tarnished corporate image can have on an organization as well as create new opportunities. For example, this situational challenge in the airline industry was the catalyst that motivated The Virgin Company’s entrepreneurial giant, Richard Branson, to take action. Out of frustration from his own travel experiences and banking on the stellar corporate image of the Virgin brand, Branson developed an offshoot company and launched Virgin Airlines. He was able to recognize a problem that existed that many airlines did not want to address at the time: quality service. Driven by fierce determination to tackle these issues, Virgin Airlines went on to become a huge success in the aviation industry. In the meantime, Hatch and Schultz (2008) explain that British Airways used the negative publicity as incentive to make changes and by the 1990s, BA’s conditions improved significantly. With the strategic help of marketing experts they were able to change those negative perceptions to reposition BA and turn their reputation around. One of the strategies incorporated to achieve this goal was the development of a new tagline that focused on positive concepts that professed the company had become “the world’s favorite airline.”  Emphasizing the word favorite helped them devise a new corporate image and created a symbol that attracted consumers which helped put BA back in a dominant position in their industry (Hatch & Schultz, 2008). By developing a new strategy BA was effectively able to communicate a new attitude that won back trust from consumers.

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Brand Name

Many people are often confused by the term brand and the differences that constitute a brand and a brand name. While a corporate image or brand summarizes what a company stands for, the brand name, on the other hand, consists of the company name and the symbols that are incorporated to clearly communicate what an organization stands for. Baack and Clow (2012) explain that a company’s logo identifies brand names and embodies the symbols that distinguish the company, its products, and their services. A logo therefore, represents the emblem that adds an additional aspect to a corporation’s image that supports the organization’s name and mission (Baack & Clow, 2012). For example, because the mind processes images faster than it does words, logo identification occurs in the following two ways: (a) a memory recall or recognition of the logo and (b) an emotional recall of that individual’s experience with the company. Nike’s swoosh logo for instance, is merely the graphic representation of the company symbol that together with the brand name evokes various emotions, memories, and ideas.

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The design of the logo is a significant feature because in many cases, the company’s brand name will include a number of products under one family name. The Apple Corporation, for example, provides many quality electronic products for consumers, including computers, smartphones, music devices, and tablets. Their corporate brand name is one of the most recognizable symbols in the global marketplace because they continue to deliver innovative quality products and keep their promises. In fact, consumers are so passionate and loyal about their merchandise, they are sought after in an unparalleled fashion witnessed by the long lines at Apple outlets stores each time a new product is launched. In short, a company’s brand name represents the company’s image and is designed to support a positive reputation by keeping the promises they make to their shareholders. Virgin Airlines for instance, provided quality service but was supported and backed by the stellar reputation of the Virgin brand name. This is one of the most effective ways to launch a new product or company.  An established giant like Virgin or Apple can provide many components to help a new offshoot achieve success. This is how brand names and corporate images support each other.

Conclusion

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Brand names represent the symbols assigned to goods or services that in turn help shape and define a corporate image. Fombrun (1996) reminds us that the world has grown to worship greatness. People in modern society value aptitude, celebrate talent, exalt brilliance, and revere genius. Contemporary athletes, for instance, that compete in the Olympic Games are not paid a salary. For them, receiving a medal is a far more valuable asset due to one significant tenet: a reputation as a top performer. This provides the foundation that helps them develop an image they can use to build their brand name. The rise of mass marketing makes it possible to achieve greater levels of prestige and wealth whether as an athlete, politician, artist, or organization, because the competition for a stellar reputation is fierce. Many people in fact, wallow in the radiance of their heroes and often elevate them to near mythological status expecting perfection in return (Fombrun, 1996). A majority have the same expectations of the companies they support, the products they purchase, and often assign corporations similar iconic positions. Not only are people shaped and influenced by a company’s decisions and innovations, they are content to support these giants on their high altars of fame. The findings of this research conclude that there are many components that differentiate a corporate image from a corporate brand name. The keys to building an effective positive corporate image include a clear communication of: (a) the benefits a company’s goods and services they provide, (b) a mission that is part of their corporate message, and (c) keeping their promises. The combination of these components help effectively communicate what the company represents that helps shape the attitude of their shareholders which in turn motivates them to offer their loyalty and support.

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References

Baack, D., & Clow, K. (2012). Integrated advertising, promotion, and marketing communications (Fifth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.

Fombrun, C. (1996). Reputation: Realizing value from the corporate image. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Hatch, M., & Schultz, M. (2008). Taking brand initiative. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishing.

Ross, M. (2010). Branding basics for small business: How to create an irresistible brand on any budget. Bedford, IN, USA: NorLightsPress.com.

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Laws – Conclusion

Published September 27, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Legal Definition and Application of the Law

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Laws are enforced to protect the innocent. Seaquist (2012) explains that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination with regards to a person’s sex. Section 703 of Title VII clearly states that it is an unlawful act for employers to refuse or fail to hire or fire individuals, or otherwise discriminate against them with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The statutory definition of sexual harassment is found at 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11 and states that harassment on the basis of sex is a violation and consists of such components like unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. In addition, a plaintiff can charge an employer for allowing or condoning an atmosphere of abusive words or acts with a hostile environment lawsuit. An employee that has been discriminated against, as in Harris v. Forklift Systems, 510, U.S. 17 (1993) in which the plaintiff filed suit because of the insults that were endured with respect to gender. The individual was well within their rights to seek justice and is directed to do so with their state’s discrimination agency or with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) prior to pursuing litigation (Seaquist, 2012). This arrangement provides many advantages, one of which is to preserve the plaintiff’s rights to state a claim should they fail to do so through federal channels. If the plaintiff can provide a burden of proof, then the defendant must rebut the presumption of discrimination by presenting evidence there was another legitimate reason that was nondiscriminatory.

There are a number of ways a plaintiff can defend their position. Gordon (2007) suggests that to establish a prima facie, or clear case of sexual harassment, the plaintiff must produce detailed evidence to support their claims. Title VII, with state and local laws that are modeled after it, grant employees rights that were traditionally withheld from them. In addition, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects them as it prohibits paying different wages based on gender for jobs that any sex can perform that possess equal skill, effort, and responsibility (Gordon, 2007). In other words, in a contemporary business atmosphere, any employer that treats women differently than men simply because of their gender is in violation of the law.

Recommendations

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Liability Exposure

Leaders that establish an ethical environment lower the risk of sexual misconduct and litigation. Gordon’s (2007) research revealed that a typical Fortune 500 company, for example, loses $6.7 million a year in absenteeism, experiences low productivity, and high employee turnover because of sexual harassment situations. In addition, the average jury award for a sexual harassment lawsuit is $450.000. Furthermore, one out of two sexually harassed individuals is by the victim’s supervisor. Sadly, most people that experience this situation do or say nothing about it for fear of repercussions including: (a) punishment, (b) accusations of slander, (c) dismissal or being ignored, and (d) termination. Studies also reveal that 95 out of 100 working women have received sexual material, such as letters, emails, phone calls, photos, and text messages at work. The toll this takes on their well-being is revealed by statistics that conclude that nine out of every ten sexually harassed women suffer from debilitating anxiety reactions including depression, headaches, immune disorders, and other physical ailments (Gordon, 2007). These are but a few of the liabilities employers face when they confront sexual discrimination and harassment issues in the workplace.

Employers must have a working knowledge of labor law and their obligations with respect to dealing with employees. Rassas (2011) reminds us that sexual harassment is not a kind of romantic behavior between two consenting adults. In a social environment, where there is a desire to please one another, for instance, both people respect and accept each other’s boundaries. In a work situation, however, one party is often unable to object the other’s behavior. In a supervisor-subordinate relationship, the subordinate is under the influence of the manager and is fearful of demotion or losing their job. Staff members expect their supervisors to make demands related to work, not cross barriers to ask for intimate favors (Rassas, 2011). For example, many employees at my former place of employment in the music industry, were encouraged to participate in after hour events to support the bands. These events took place at local bars and nightclubs. In one incident, a vice president from another department, acting as a concerned supervisor, used safety issue concerns as a reason to make sexual advances. In this situation, the man behaved in a friendly manner, as a concerned parent or trusted family member, taking on the role of protector and rescuer to earn trust. In other words, the executive used the issue of protection as guise to lure a subordinate employee into a false sense of security and friendship. Once the subordinate felt safe that the initial gesture was innocent, interpreting it as an act of kindness, the executive perceived this as a green light to continue his advances. He then proceeded to take the young employee’s hand and held it in a manner that intimate couples do. This behavior was supposed to make the new recruit feel more comforted and safe in the hostile bar room environment the manipulative executive painted it out to be. However, quite the opposite transpired. To the new employee it was extremely uncomfortable and perceived as inappropriate behavior. The executive continued with his ruse because in his perception, the advances were not rejected. In reality, the new recruit out of nervousness and fear was merely being polite. The subordinate was a new employee at the organization and did not have the support system to seek guidance, help, or protection for that matter. She relied on the only means of defense she felt she had available: playing dumb and ignoring the gestures.

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A common scenario that occurs with many women that experience date rape is a woman says no to the man assaulting her, however, he perceives this as a yes answer because it presents a challenge in his mind and a new goal to a focus on: her submission. These individuals are clearly imbalanced and have distorted perceptions of safe boundaries. From their given position of power, they view the rejection as a game of cat and mouse. In other words, they believe the woman is saying, “No! Don’t stop please!”  In reality the woman is actually saying, “No! Don’t! Stop! Please!” In short, leaders that behave like this are blinded by their ambition and sexual passions which can dull their perceptions beyond all reason. The music executive was determined to continue with his efforts of pursuit because of the trophy that awaited him, “bragging rights to his colleagues.” Many executives are so driven by their ego and lust for power they do not perceive their behavior as inappropriate. In their view, sneaking away with a subordinate for cocktails, or enticing them with a meal at a trendy Hollywood restaurant, concocting work related business as an excuse to lure the employee into having a dinner date with him is not unheard of.  In short, it is how business is conducted in many industries. This is just one way harassment problems evolve. Supervisors with huge egos, personality, and worse, mental disorders, lack common sense because of their condition. In addition, some of these individuals justify their actions because of their position and a sense of entitlement. They disrespect the views and rights of others and quite frankly are in dire need of psychological management and education in what constitutes proper behavior and safe boundaries. These individuals are so focused with their personal agenda they lose sight of all reason including to uphold their responsibilities as a leader. Additionally, they use their power to manipulate and engage in tactics of deception to achieve their own goals. McGraw (2012) suggests that there are many reasons as to why this can happen including a person’s life experiences, mental illness, drugs, greed, the environment, and poor role modeling. These are components that can forge damaged people so that they do not have a clear conception of how to develop and build healthy relationships (McGraw, 2012). Regardless of their background however, there are just people in the world that take advantage and hurt others for their own personal gain. Needless to say, a case against the music executive was never filed because at the time, the culture cultivated at the company did not view this behavior as an act of violation. In other words, it was accepted conduct in the boy’s club climate of the company that had been established during that era.

When victimized employees file a sexual harassment claim against a supervisor, it is equally important that employers know what to expect. Seaquist (2012) postulates that are two general kinds of defenses employers may use as a strategy (a) present evidence to substantiate that the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct the behavior promptly and (b) present evidence that the plaintiff (employee) unreasonably failed to take measures of prevention or corrective strategies provided by the employer to avoid harm. The plaintiff on the other hand, must provide substantial evidence to support their claim (Seaquist, 2012). Unfortunately the process entails that the plaintiff reveal intimate details of that emotionally charged experience. Because of this many lack the courage or confidence to come forward to avoid further humiliation and chastisement from colleagues.

Improvement and Prevention

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Employers that are educated in sexual discrimination and harassment laws can protect themselves and their employees. Advances in technology also create new opportunities for other forms of sexual abuse including sending pornographic material via electronic communication or the trending sexting behavior many engage in. To avoid this, successful leaders can propose and implement strategies to prevent this conduct in the work place. Gordon (2007) suggests leaders incorporate programs that offer guidance for staff members including special problems like sexual misbehavior in unique environments, including educational, military, religious, and governmental facilities (Gordon, 2007). In addition, strategies that offer to help employees learn how to communicate in an appropriate manner and deal with power and sexuality can also be effective. These include the development of guidelines and Codes of Conduct that can also serve to: (a) protect whistle blowers, (b) monitor policies to make sure they are being complied with, (c) hire good people, (d) apply techniques to discipline workers, (e) set an ethical tone, and (f) create an ethical conflict management team to assist in the behavioral management process.

Employers that are able to break free from old paradigms and release outdated views of how the sexes interact can help develop a culture where employees feel not only safe, but feel confident to discuss issues when they occur. These tactics help people to resolve issues before they reach crisis level. In addition, employers can implement systems that include a designated person to manage claims and support individuals that have been victimized by acknowledging that this is a form of abuse that requires disciplinary action including termination from the perpetrator should they be found guilty. Take the following situation for example, an employer pinches a woman on the backside, or makes comments like, “You’re a good lookin’ broad! Why don’t you come over here and sit on my lap so we can discuss the first thing that pops up?” If this occurs, all staff members must be made aware, that although this behavior may have been funny and tolerated fifty years ago, it is no longer acceptable conduct in a business environment. In fact, that behavior can now get a person terminated.

Conclusion

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Business leaders that educate and empower their employees in legal issues with respect to sexual discrimination and harassment issues can help them defend their constitutional rights. Chopra (2013) reminds us that healthy relationships require healthy boundaries. They are an important component that helps determine how people perceive, behave, and honor each other (Chopra, 2013). Federal, state, and local laws protect workers from discrimination. These laws make employers responsible for the working conditions their employees are exposed to and remove obstacles that can hinder fair treatment to workers. In addition, women nearly constitute one out of every two workers in the workplace. This continual evolution of demographics is slowly shifting the social climate in American businesses.

Employers that are highly educated and well versed in business law can make more effective decisions. For example, many people that enter the work force come from environments that consist of problems including sexual misbehavior, domestic abuse, incest, and the sexual molestation of children. Plus, the public school system offers very little education and lacks effective programs to help students understand how to manage these issues. Consequently, many of them graduate and enter the work force with self-esteem and efficacy issues. Because their boundaries were violated by the people they trusted most, many are confused about what is appropriate behavior and what is not. Business leaders that are cognizant of these statistics are better equipped to develop strategies that support their employees and cultivate an ethical climate. These employers provide programs that offer education and devise codes of conduct that clearly establish rules and regulations to help deter ethical misconduct. Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Hanh (2012) asserts that the employment a person engages in should be an expression of their entire being. In other words, the vocation they choose can be a wonderful opportunity to express their deepest desires, provide a significant source of nourishment, happiness, transformation, and healing. On the other hand, the job a person engages in can also create a considerable amount of hostility, abuse, discontent, and suffering (Hanh, 2012). When individuals bring awareness and are mindful of their words and actions, they can help cultivate an ethical climate of understanding and compassion where workers feel safe to work in harmony with their colleagues, free of discrimination and harassment.

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No one should ever have to struggle or suffer additional discourse or humiliation on top of the emotional distress and crisis they experience from the effects of sexual discrimination and harassment. Wilde (1987) purported that life is not meant to be a struggle. In nature, for instance, life requires a certain effort to sustain itself, but it does not struggle. In other words, a lion does not wake up each morning and roar, “I’m going to struggle like a wild cat today and hopefully by the time dinner rolls around I will have something hefty to chow down.” In other words, there is a big difference between the concept of struggling and that of making an effort (Wilde, 1987). Leaders that make an effort and devise support systems that discourage ethical misconduct, encourage victims to come forward, and do not punish the whistle blowers, can create a healthy environment where employees do not have to struggle to feel safe. The findings of this research deduced that while it may take considerable time and energy to examine legal situations in the workplace, employers that do so can prevent litigation because it helps them identify laws that have been developed to protect employees as well as help business leaders avoid facing penalties or fines they are liable for due to issues like sexual discrimination and harassment. Hanh (2012) purported that business leaders do not have to sacrifice their values to be successful (Hanh, 2012). In conclusion, employers that cultivate an ethical climate will most certainly operate their organization within the framework of the law and incorporate this stance into their codes of conduct. This effective leadership strategy is one that is likely to ensure an organization’s long term success.

This concludes my research in business law. Next week my research work focuses on marketing! Until then … have a great weekend and thanks for being a part of this educational experience with me.

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References

Adler, L. (2013). The essential guide for hiring and getting hired. Atlanta, GA: Workbench Media.

Chopra, D. (2013, August 16). 21 day meditation challenge: Miraculous relationships. Retrieved August 16, 2103, from chopracentermeditation.com: https://chopracentermeditation.com

Clarkson, K., & Miller, R. (2012). Business law: Text and cases: Legal, ethical, global and corporate environment. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Fredman, S. (2011). Discrimination law. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Gordon, L. (2007). The sexual harrassment handbook. Franklin Lakes, NJ: The Career Press, Inc.

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

MacKinnon, C. (1979). Sexual harrassment of working women. Boston, MA: Yale University.

McGraw, P. (2012). Life code. Los Angeles, CA, USA: Bird Street Books.

Palumbo, C., & Wolfson, B. (2011). The law of sex discrimination (Fourth ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Rassas, L. (2011). Employment law: a guide to hiring, managing, and firing employers and employees. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Walsh, D. (2013). Employment law for human resource practice. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Wilde, S. (1987). Life was never meant to be a struggle. Carlsbad, CA, USA: Hay House, Inc.

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Laws – Part 2

Published September 25, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Ethics

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Theories

Managers with an awareness of discrimination laws from a variety of vantage points, including ethics, can produce a more successful working environment and avoid lawsuits. Ethical theories help leaders decide what is morally acceptable. Geisler (1989) suggests that ethics can be defined in terms of what the organization deems as morally right and that each company creates its own set of ethical standards (Geisler, 1989). In a business environment, leaders look to their own views of morality and ethics to assist them in the decision making process. However, there are times when a leader is confronted with making a decision and is required to determine whether it is more important for the organization to engage in ethical practices or lawful ones. For example, when a claimant files a sexual harassment charge, they are seeking restitution for the violations they experience. In this situation, employers are obligated to manage both the legal ramifications as well as the ethical ones. In other words, while the proceedings are taking place, the employer must take the necessary steps to allow the justice system to prevail, while employers do what they can to support the individual that is suffering, rather than participate in efforts to isolate and humiliate the plaintiff further.

It is the employer’s responsibility to cultivate a climate that personnel feel safe in. Employees that experience discrimination feel unvalued and inadequate. In addition, employees that are subjected to sexual discrimination and harassment experience more physical and psychological problems. Employers need to protect themselves from these events occurring because victims have the support of the legal system to engage attorneys that will pursue restitution. Seaquist (2012) explains laws concern themselves with issues of right and wrong with the administration of justice. Business leaders should also take into consideration the topics of ethics and morality to help their personnel identify more clearly what is considered acceptable and unacceptable conduct (Seaquist, 2012). For example, business leaders that apply the ethical absolutism theory, accept that there are certain universal parameters that determine what is right and wrong. If stealing is wrong for instance, then it is always considered wrong regardless of the situation. Therefore a business leader that incorporates ethical absolutism will always consider stealing morally wrong. However, if the culture in a business has an open attitude towards sexual harassment and views this behavior as boys just being boys, then in an ethical absolutism environment, sexual harassment is accepted as morally right. Simply put, in an environment where many of the employees in upper management are engaged in extramarital affairs, these executives tend to hire employees that embrace the same attitude, or have a disposition in which they are happy to look the other way, or go with the flow, when it comes to ethical misconduct. Not only are personnel conditioned to accept this behavior, many in fact subscribe that there is nothing morally wrong with it. Corporations that cultivate a culture of religious fundamentalism on the other hand, base their code of ethics on scriptures written by prophets and would most likely reject a concept like this.  It is highly probable that they would view sexual discrimination and harassment as a sin and morally incomprehensible.

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Culture

American culture is slowly emerging from a patriarchal society that supported the male sexual dominance of women and employers that control their workers. For example, many corporate department heads from a former place of employment, hired assistants that were physically attractive with an uninhibited free spirit and disposition. Furthermore, they supported an environment that consisted of an open flirtatious atmosphere established by the leaders with various incentives like compensation, pay raises, promotions, free merchandise, or tickets and backstage passes to special events, the use of company limousines, and other similar perks to encourage and support that behavior. Sexual harassment complaints in this kind of culture are typically nonexistent because of the climate that has been cultivated by the supervisors that everyone conforms to, including low level employees.  In other words, they are able to maintain an unethical atmosphere because candidates for hire were only considered and remained as long as they embraced the established culture.

Employers also set the tone of a work environment by the people they hire. Adler’s (2013) research also indicates that many employers have a difficult time hiring and recruiting the best candidates because they are ineffective at implementing strategies to attract top performers (Adler, 2013).  One of the reasons for this is that many leaders have unhealthy perceptions of employee and subordinate roles in the workplace, especially those hired as personal or administrative assistants. Many executives view their assistants for example, as a reflection of themselves and therefore hire staff members that represent of a certain kind of image they deem appropriate for their department. For instance, in a corporate situation, the head of the legal department may hire staff members that adopt a conservative style based on skills and knowledge to represent the group of attorneys that operate that division. The publicity and promotion departments on the other hand, may hire staff members based on artistic and creative skills.  Staff members may consist of  more free spirited people with an open attitude, youthful drive and energy. In other words, the department heads set the atmosphere for the climate and ethical culture they develop and hire staff members that are an organizational fit in that arena.

There is no single law that covers all workers in the US. Walsh (2013) reminds us that employment laws consist of a patchwork of federal, state, and local laws that continue to evolve and are contingent upon many components including the size of the organization (Walsh, 2013). For example, as mentioned previously, many supervisors hire personal assistants based on certain components including, age, appearance, and physical type rather than seek individuals that are qualified with skills and knowledge. In addition, there are many executives that tend to view assistants as their trophy, rather than a skilled person best qualified for the job. This is indicative of a climate where women are perceived as objects, rather than individuals capable of innovation and considerable contribution to an organization’s success. In addition, these females are also viewed and discriminated against by other staff members of the same sex as well. For example, when I was hired as an administrative assistant in the music industry, issues of discrimination immediately began to surface in the corporate arena.  It was evident from the behavior of other staff members of the same gender and equal rank that I was an outsider to them. I later discovered that some of the women even jokingly referred to me as the new dish. In short, other staff members automatically made a judgment based on appearances, not because of my level of skills and knowledge. Rather than embrace and welcome me as a new employee, they engaged in acts of discrimination, making me feel isolated and friendless. In some cases, many employers and employees do not have a clear set of identifying acceptable and unacceptable relationship boundaries. This also fosters unhealthy relationships.

Legalities

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Legal and Political Aspects

Business leaders that understand the legal and political perspective of discrimination issues, are more likely to achieve the best legal outcomes. Palumbo and Wolfson (2011) suggest that patriarchal systems can also influence behavioral patterns that are enforced, legitimized, and perpetuated in a business arena (Palumbo & Wolfson, 2011). These systems can have a significant influence on politics and policy making. For instance, fundamental religion has played a significant role in the world in that many leaders use this position to justify totalitarian actions that are based on absolutist ideals. Leaders in this climate, reveal their ethical principles by the type of legal systems that support them. For example, the civil law system that is common in most of the European Countries (EC) meticulously outlines individual rights and responsibilities. In its quick implementation of justice and with limited power of judicial interpretation, it reinforces an absolutist kind of ethical philosophy with systems that require strict compliance to statutes that guide behavior and leave little room for deviation.

Common law systems, on the other hand, like those established in the US, leave wide latitude for interpretation and provide a multi-faceted frame for the appellate courts to determine (Palumbo & Wolfson, 2011). In other words, civil laws leave little room for misinterpretation, while common law offers latitude for litigants to argue. For example, in a country where civil laws pervade, a sexual harassment issue can be resolved quickly by the laws. In a country where common law systems pervade, both sides of the case must produce substantial evidence to support their position and in many instances, the defense will engage in tactics that degrade, belittle, and present the victim in an unfavorable manner to provide reasonable doubt with respect to a claim. Because of this, many victims do not come forward to avoid the humiliation of such an experience in addition to the violation they are processing and working to recover from.

References:

Adler, L. (2013). The essential guide for hiring and getting hired. Atlanta, GA: Workbench Media.

Chopra, D. (2013, August 16). 21 day meditation challenge: Miraculous relationships. Retrieved August 16, 2103, from chopracentermeditation.com: https://chopracentermeditation.com

Clarkson, K., & Miller, R. (2012). Business law: Text and cases: Legal, ethical, global and corporate environment. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Fredman, S. (2011). Discrimination law. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Gordon, L. (2007). The sexual harrassment handbook. Franklin Lakes, NJ: The Career Press, Inc.

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

MacKinnon, C. (1979). Sexual harrassment of working women. Boston, MA: Yale University.

McGraw, P. (2012). Life code. Los Angeles, CA, USA: Bird Street Books.

Palumbo, C., & Wolfson, B. (2011). The law of sex discrimination (Fourth ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Rassas, L. (2011). Employment law: a guide to hiring, managing, and firing employers and employees. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Walsh, D. (2013). Employment law for human resource practice. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Wilde, S. (1987). Life was never meant to be a struggle. Carlsbad, CA, USA: Hay House, Inc.

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Laws – Part 1

Published September 23, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Introduction

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Business leaders face many challenges and issues in the work place and are required to manage them effectively as they surface in order to maintain a successful and comfortably safe working environment. Clarkson and Miller (2012) recommend that organizational leaders become educated in business law in order to function in the modern world citing that anyone who embarks on a professional career, whether in medicine, science, entertainment, government, or accounting, will benefit from knowledge of contracts, real and intellectual property law, landlord-tenant partnerships as well as other significant legal matters (Clarkson & Miller, 2012). For example, when a manager invites a new employee to join the organization and makes it clear the candidate was chosen because of their credentials and top performance levels, rather than being welcomed or embraced, the new hire discovers many are jealous and exclude the individual from participating in significant meetings or social events. Soon, the new recruit starts to feel alone and isolated. This is an example of one form of discrimination that takes place in the business world. One of the most difficult forms of discrimination employers can face, however, is sexual discrimination, if and when they are forced to deal with a complaint that is filed. Seaquist (2012) suggests that although many of these cases can be settled out of court or through mediation, charges of sexual discrimination are a very serious matter that continues to present problems businesses and women confront on a daily basis in the modern world (Seaquist, 2012). The focus of this research is centered on the analysis of the legal and ethical situations relating to sexual discrimination and harassment issues in a business environment. The analysis will include a brief explanation to offer a more concise definition as well as provide a brief background on the subject. In addition, it will include a discussion on the ethical concerns and how discrimination laws are applied citing examples to support the study. The research will also include a look at the liability exposure employers can face as well as provide recommendations for improvement and suggest prevention plans that leaders can implement to avoid facing litigation and costly damages. The study will conclude that even though it takes an enormous amount of energy, understanding the legalities and complexities of business law with respect to discrimination and sexual harassment situations can help employers avoid litigation and maintain a safe working environment.

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Analysis of Sexual Discrimination and Harassment

The Backstory

Smart business leaders recognize that knowledge in discrimination law puts them in a better position to create and enforce a climate that will prevent occurrences and behavior that encourages discrimination or sexual harassment because it can lead to costly lawsuits. For example, when women initially entered into the workforce, they began to experience a variety of discrimination issues.  In fact, many were discouraged from working outside of the household and often chastised. This attitude reflected the culture of that time, in that women had been conditioned to accept their role in society as the primary caretaker of the home and family while providing support toward their husbands careers. Once women entered the labor force, however, they were introduced to more kinds of discrimination including lower wages, exclusion from participating in certain occupations, and many were exposed to intimate violation in the form of sexual discrimination, harassment, and abuse at their job. In fact, not only are women victims of this behavior, they are often subjected to society’s failure to recognize that sexual harassment is another form of abuse like bullying and generally accepted as taboo. In other words, this behavior is typical in a patriarchal society that accepts this conduct as boys being boys, while the women are left to confront the traumatic experiences of the effects from it, as well as process and examine their own perceptions, which for the most part, were usually not supported. Today, many women still feel humiliated, ashamed, and fearful to come forward to avoid ridicule and further stress because the system does not provide adequate support systems to defend these victims.

Dating co-workers is not a new concept. People work long hours together, overcome challenges and share victories. As a result, they develop bonds and friendships that can lead to romantic relationships. This can bring great joy and fulfillment as well as create a hostile atmosphere. Many companies have policies against romantic liaisons for those reasons. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear executives spewing remarks like, “We don’t fish off the company pier,” from those resolved to comply with corporate mandates. MacKinnon’s (1979) studies reveal that the intimate violation of both women and men is common in American society and concludes that the behavior is typically contained by a patriarchal structure of power that works diligently to keep the topic nearly inaudible. In addition, men’s control over women’s material survival, education, and occupational advancements for example, have become institutionalized in many patriarchal systems (MacKinnon, 1979). Unfortunately, these patterns have been enforced for thousands of years and slow to change because of the complexities associated with them.

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Identifying Sexual Discrimination and Harassment

Discrimination and harassment issues are difficult to manage because it makes people have to confront the the topic of inequality. The first step business leaders can take to prevent sexual discrimination and harassment is to have a clear understanding of what it means. For example, in a sex discrimination case, if an employer deliberately discriminates against a female in the work place, it is called disparate treatment. Should the claim go to court there is a three step process the plaintiff must go through to present the burdens of proof. Should the defendant succeed in convincing the court there was a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to prove the defendant’s position is false and inaccurate. According to Title VII and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, the plaintiff must demonstrate a preponderance of evidence that supports the following criteria: (a) the individual is a member of a protected class; (b) the plaintiff was meeting the employer’s expectations; (c) the plaintiff suffered from the experience, (d) other workers of equal status outside the protected class were exposed to differential treatment. Furthermore, MacKinnon (1979) stated that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution guarantees that no state shall deny an individual equal protection of the law. According to the inequality approach, sexual harassment is viewed as sexual discrimination and seen as a disadvantage to women as a gender within a social context in which a female’s sexuality and material survival depends on, to the woman’s detriment (MacKinnon, 1979). In simple terms sexual discrimination can be defined as the unwanted acts and imposition individuals experience that is based on sexual requirements that takes place in a business relationship of unequal power.

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People have been fighting for equality since they discovered what that term meant. Fredman (2011) however, contends that equality is an ideal whose meaning shifts the closer it is scrutinized. In the meantime, the legal system recognizes and acknowledges two general types of sexual discrimination and harassment issues: (a) quid pro quo harassment, which can translate into the form of a promotion, hiring, or salary hike in exchange for intimate favors; and (b) an environment that promotes sexual harassment where workers are exposed to behavior including unwanted sexual advances, lewd comments, innuendos, or jokes (Fredman, 2011). For example, in the Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986) court case, the plaintiff was required to provide evidence that discrimination had transpired, was based on sex, and created a hostile or abusive environment (Seaquist, 2012). This situation occurs when supervisors and managers have failed to take steps to implement programs and enforce policies that discourage inappropriate actions or have not successfully educated employees to refrain from engaging in this type of ethical misconduct.

Identifying discrimination laws also protects employees. For example, workers educated in sexual discrimination are better suited to identify it, or come forward to support others they suspect are being exposed to harassment from supervisors or other figures of authority who coercively initiate unwanted advances, favors, or pressures. Furthermore, employees that are not aware of their rights are susceptible to becoming harassment victims themselves, especially in situations where they lack or do not reciprocate feelings towards the individual making the advances.

Many victims are also silent when these events occur, because they are fearful of losing their job or facing other serious repercussions.  Gordon (2007) suggests that there are laws that prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. They require that staff members identify and separate different kinds of sexual interactions. Although the theory seems simple, often it is not easy to approach because there are a variety of effective solutions individuals can take when they are approached by a direct supervisor or an influential authoritative figure that has control over their career (Gordon, 2007). For example, an individual with a history of abuse that enters the workplace may have challenges identifying boundary issues because of the abhorrent conditions and acts of violation from their own past experiences. Most victims of abuse are uneducated and ignorant of their rights. Unfortunately, many out of fear and survival protect their abusers and remain silent. Other individuals with self-esteem issues that typically result from the complexities of a fatherless upbringing can bond and develop affection towards their violators and even protect them. In short, many individuals that have been sexually victimized do not have the effective tools, knowledge, and self-esteem to rely on as a defense mechanism. Many experience anxiety over the possibility of termination from the supervisor that initiated the sexual advances or pressured them using their position of power to do so. People that are not empowered are not only vulnerable to abusers, but are defenseless because they lack the confidence, courage, and support to come forward.

References

Adler, L. (2013). The essential guide for hiring and getting hired. Atlanta, GA: Workbench Media.

Chopra, D. (2013, August 16). 21 day meditation challenge: Miraculous relationships. Retrieved August 16, 2103, from chopracentermeditation.com: https://chopracentermeditation.com

Clarkson, K., & Miller, R. (2012). Business law: Text and cases: Legal, ethical, global and corporate environment. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Fredman, S. (2011). Discrimination law. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Gordon, L. (2007). The sexual harrassment handbook. Franklin Lakes, NJ: The Career Press, Inc.

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

MacKinnon, C. (1979). Sexual harrassment of working women. Boston, MA: Yale University.

McGraw, P. (2012). Life code. Los Angeles, CA, USA: Bird Street Books.

Palumbo, C., & Wolfson, B. (2011). The law of sex discrimination (Fourth ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Rassas, L. (2011). Employment law: a guide to hiring, managing, and firing employers and employees. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Walsh, D. (2013). Employment law for human resource practice. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Wilde, S. (1987). Life was never meant to be a struggle. Carlsbad, CA, USA: Hay House, Inc.

Environmental Statutes

Published September 20, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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US legal systems are designed to protect citizens in an organized society with respect to a wide number of issues including criminal behavior, domestic and professional relationships, regulations of industry and business, as well as a multitude of other significant issues. One of the most difficult areas to manage and regulate is environmental law. Schroeder (2008) contends environmental laws are difficult to comprehend because of the complexities involved. Environmental laws are meant to constitute the regulations and actions that threaten or physically harm the natural world including the inhabitants of the environment (people, animals, plants, air, water, and so on). Environmental law is considered one of the most complex areas in the legal field because the laws that regulate the environment are derived from a variety of sources, including: (a) federal courts, (b) Congress, (c) various federal administrative agencies, and (d) international treaties. In addition, state legislatures, courts and administrative agencies, local government (cities, towns, and counties) influence these regulations. Because environmental law is a relatively new field, the involvement of these many entities, makes it difficult to analyze the various statutes and regulations that govern them (Schroeder, 2008). Furthermore, different areas of the law require different knowledge like administrative, criminal, and tort laws, as well as understanding the court system, the civil and criminal procedures, and constitutional laws. Plus, the relationships between these areas are not always easy to comprehend or observe. Finally, science also acts as a major contributor to the plethora of environmental issues. For example, an examination of the maximum contaminant levels for drinking water is one factor that can significantly determine the development and enforcement of environmental statutes and regulations.

environmental law

One environmental law that is relevant to me as a mother and a children’s learning coach, is Executive Order 13045 – The Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks 62 FR 19883; April 23, 1997. This environmental law is designed to protect children from the health and safety risks of products or substances that a child is likely to come in contact with or ingest (such as the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink or use, the soil that surrounds us, and the products we use or are exposed to). The EPA’s responsibility is to evaluate the effects of these issues and introduce regulations that provide an explanation as to why the statutes are implemented as well as include information on potentially effective and reasonably feasible alternatives (Summary of executive order 13045 – protection of children from environmental health risks and safety risks, 1997). For example, children in a learning environment typically use and put crayons in their mouths, and some  will even bite into them as an experiment to appease their curiosity about the world that surrounds  them by enlisting the use of their taste pallets. If the crayon is produced from chemicals that are toxic, however, this can present a harmful situation to the children that play with them. This law forces manufacturers to incorporate safer methods, label products with warnings about toxic products, identify those that are non toxic, and punish manufacturers that do not comply. Without these regulations to protect children from harm, parents and teachers cannot feel confident or at ease with the products their children are using if they are not deemed safe indicated by a government agency seal of approval.

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Business leaders for the most part, find dealing with environmental laws taxing. This is due to the complexities that these mandates have evolved into which includes of a system of statutes, regulations, guidelines, requirements, policies, and case-specific judicial and administrative interpretations that address a wide-ranging set of environmental issues and concerns which are created to deal with how humans interact with the environment and ecological systems. However, most business leaders just want to run their business and not have to worry or think about the many regulations they are required to comply with. Ewing and Steinway (2011) postulate that the key issue for business leaders to identify is what role the federal and state government plays in operating their business. For example, the traditional command and control system involves the establishment of environmental standards and permit enforcement procedures, liability assignment, and penalties (criminal and/or noncriminal) for noncompliance. These regulating authorities are granted the power to issue permits or licenses that authorize or prohibit activities that contaminate, harm, or cause pollution. Business leaders must comply with these mandates to operate their business to avoid penalties and fines (Ewing & Steinway, 2011). State groundwater protection laws, for example, provide detailed information that help business leaders better understand the permit programs they may require for their industry. For the most part, environmental laws serve to protect the environment as well as keep us safe from the products we use, protect the air we breathe and make sure the foods we eat are not contaminated. In conclusion, environmental regulations are meant to prevent industries from poisoning and contaminating the environmental and ecological fabric that we all rely on for our existence.

Next week concludes my research on business law with a three part blog that covers sexual harassment and discrimination laws. Until then have a great weekend everyone!

References:

(1997). Summary of executive order 13045 – protection of children from environmental health risks and safety risks. Washington: EPA. Retrieved September 3, 2013, from http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-executive-order-13045-protection-children-environmental-health-risks-and

Ewing, K., & Steinway, D. (2011). Environmental law. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Schroeder, K. (2008). Environmental law. New York, NY: Delmar Learning.

Claims to Environmental-Friendliness

Published September 18, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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More and more company leaders are embracing a green approach when it comes to running their organizations. Pierre-Louis (2012) explains that we have reached a tipping point where it has become a necessary reality. For instance, because of by-products created from toxic chemicals and fertilizers of industrial agriculture, the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay in Maryland are polluted. Studies reveal that the techno-scientific system that has been implemented in these industries, are working in partnership with the economic and political structures and shifted agriculture, which was once based on an organic ecological method. It is now a system that is dependent upon the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, and GMOs or genetically modified organisms (Pierre-Louis, 2012). Because of tensions however, between business interests and maximizing profits, consumers do not always receive the complete truth and are even mislead about products they purchase. When a consumer purchases a 10 pound watermelon, for example, they may be unaware that farmers in China have conformed to incorporating uncharted methods to produce these over-sized watermelons. In other words, they may be unaware that in order to accomplish this, the Asian farmers introduced, overused, and misapplied a growth accelerator shown to interfere with the division of human cells in a manner that is linked to neurological diseases and cancer.

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Also, when a person goes to their grocers to purchase a pound of ground beef, they have no idea that the animals were part of a system housed in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where cattle, pigs, poultry, and others are jailed into containers so tiny – many are pumped with a steady dose of antibiotics to ward off illnesses and hormones to make them larger. Not only is this practice cruel and barbaric, CAFOs are hazardous for anyone who resides near or even drives passed these facilities. Environmental hazards created from this industry are deadly because traditionally livestock waste is not recycled into the land as fertilizer. Instead, it is stored in giant lagoons where it becomes a health and environmental hazard. In 2009, a hog farmer in Minnesota was thrown over 40 feet in an explosion produced by the methane gas from a manure pit on his farm. In addition, these pits introduce viruses, nitrogen, and other heavy metals into the groundwater and create air that is so toxic it causes respiratory distress (Pierre-Louis, 2012). Farmers need to become educated of these hazards and devise more effective systems to dispose of these deadly materials to prevent events like this from occurring. With respect to the corporate leaders that profit from CAFOs, in my view, this is a practice that should be considered as criminal activity and accountable to the law. What I have come to acknowledge in my own experience as a caretaker of a variety of these animals, including reptiles, that within each of them there exists a level of awareness as sentient beings with personalities, levels of emotion, and that they also bond with their parents and siblings. Therefore, in my view, any company whose operations abuse or mistreat animals and expose them to such horrific conditions should be held liable and accountable for engaging in this deplorable business practice.

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In spite of examples such as this, it is evident from the current trend, that more and more companies are conforming and implementing programs that embody “green practices.” There are always, unfortunately, those who continue to put profit above everything and seek ways to cut corners or beat the system. Grant (2007) suggests that many companies, however, sincerely want to engage in green marketing because it offers creative ways to entice consumers to buy their products while promoting their brand as an organization that embraces and encourages a greener lifestyle.  There are many challenges though, because it is still a fairly new arena that continues to evolve. Leaders agree that going green is a great strategy, but no one really understands how to do it effectively. The partnership of marketing and green is complicated because of many conflicting interests including: (a) ideological, (b) cultural, (c) economic and (d) practicality (Grant, 2007). For example, a Domino’s Pizza chain will advertise they are going green by including electric vehicles in their delivery fleet. Their position is that although they may not serve the healthiest meals, they believe their consumers will appreciate better quality air and less noise in late night deliveries. Plus, it is an effective way to cut costs from rising fuel prices. This is an example of one way a company can implement greenwashing marketing strategies to support an image that they are environmentally friendly. On the other hand, the ovens or light bulbs Domino’s may use perhaps are not energy efficient. In short, because they incorporate one method that supports green practices, does not mean they qualify as green organization. In addition, companies that engage in greenwashing techniques can risk litigation and costly fines because of misleading marketing tactics.

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The 2007, a greenwashing report was submitted by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). They defined greenwashing as behavior that misleads consumers with respect to environmental practices and benefits with respect to their products or services. These marketing strategies are focused on gaining the trust of stakeholders. However, according to the report, the consequences can be quite significant. For instance, consumers who realize they were misled of the potential benefit, view the investment as wasted can create negative publicity. In addition, pressure from bogus environmental claims siphon the market from products that offer real benefits and innovation for further development. Worse of all, greenwashing creates doubt and a lack of trust about environmental claims (The six sins of greenwashing, 2007). For these and many other reasons, as a marketing executive, my recommendations are to implement a green partnership program that includes staff member participation as well as the hiring of an outside agency to ensure greenwashing does not occur. I would also recommend that the company and staff members work in partnership to incorporate mindful practices that support the environment to not only build trust with stakeholders, but also to help create a working environment where employees are proud to be part of an organization that does not engage in practices that contribute to the contamination or destruction of the environment that sustains them.

References:

(2007). The six sins of greenwashing. Underwriter Laboratories. IL: TerraChoice Environmental Marketing. Retrieved Aug 31, 2013, from http://classroom.ashford.edu/re/DotNextLaunch.asp?courseid=8547352&userid=14934244&sessionid=63acca4257&tabid=AaY7Y+AM9t/b9Dtt5O1xxCxuH0nmWdpN+EQIbX65faeMaF1hYHKDQCWLyMHNfbx5TJpB87wlQwkK5oRYjtzwDA==&sessionFirstAuthStore=true&macid=b08L4lGhfDFzpMFJC8elRTk

Grant, J. (2007). The green marketing manifesto. Chichester, West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Pierre-Louis, K. (2012). Green washed: Why we can’t buy our way to a green planet. Brooklyn, NY: Ig Publishing.

Employment Anti-Discrimination Laws Part 2

Published September 16, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Part One of this series offered a brief overview of the systems that hiring managers implement to recruit potential top level performers. Part Two provides samples of the components that hiring managers utilize in the hiring process. The following fictitious samples were developed for the purpose of this research and are based on my previous employment experiences in the music industry.

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Job Description and Advertisement

Basic Information

Job Title: Administrative Assistant for the West Coast Vice President of Promotion

Job Purpose: The individual will provide administrative services for office systems in accordance with procedures, policies and engage in duties required of that department to the best of their ability, within the ethical framework established as outlined in the corporate employment handbook.

Job Overview: The individual hired for this position is required to perform the duties of the Administrative Assistant to the West Coast Vice President of Promotion that includes active participation and working in partnership with the supervisor and other staff members to build and maintain an ethical climate. The position also offers opportunities for career advancement.

Administrative Assistant Duties:

  • Maintains workflow implemented by systems established, studying models, incorporating cost reductions, reporting procedures and developing new ones.
  • Maintains, creates, and revises systems and procedures by examining operation practices, including data and record keeping systems, forms control, office layout, budgetary and personnel requirements and implementing changes.
  • Supports and develops administrative staff by providing information, educational opportunities and experiential growth opportunities.
  • Resolves administrative problems by coordinating preparation of documents, including reports, spreadsheets, analyzing data and implementing solutions
  • Maintains and ensures operation of equipment including preventive maintenance requirements; calling for repairs; maintaining equipment inventories; and evaluating new equipment, techniques, and technologies.
  • Provides information, as well as answers inquiries and requests.
  • Maintains supply inventories by checking stock to determine inventory level, anticipating need supplies, placing and expediting orders for supplies, and verifying receipt of supplies.
  • Completes operational requirements including scheduling and assigning administrative projects, as well as expediting work results.
  • Maintains professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops, reviewing professional publications, establishing personal networks, participating in professional societies.
  • Contributes to team effort by accomplishing results as required.

Job Advertisement for Social Media Outlets

Simulation - This is not a real advertisement

Simulation – This is not a real advertisement

Requirements, Knowledge, Skills, and Aptitudes

Bachelor Degree, Minimum Five Years’ Experience, Reporting skills, Administrative Writing Skills, Computer Technology Skills, Microsoft Office Skills, Managing Processes, Organization, Analyzing information, Professionalism, Problem Solving, Supply Management, Inventory Control, Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Skills.

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Legal and Illegal Questions to Ask Potential Hires

Employers are vulnerable to litigation in the pre-employment process if they are not cognizant of employment and discrimination laws.  The most effective hiring managers implement supportive strategies and programs that avoid discrimination to attract top performers.  Seaquist (2012) postulates that company leaders should educate employees and hiring managers when designing the interview process to make sure they do not over step any boundaries.  This means avoiding any questions that would be in violation of Title VII mandates, including: (a) race, (b) sex, (c) national origin, (d) disabilities, and (e) criminal background (Seaquist, 2012).  Information can be obtained with respect to the aforementioned topics as long as they fall within the legal parameters of both Title VII and state regulations.  For example, an interviewer may include a list of different races on the application that the candidate can select, without having to go into further detail about their culture or personal beliefs.

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Using this framework as a model, the questions listed below proposed by McKee (2012) will help outline more clearly, inquiries that are considered in compliance with employment laws, as well as those that are not.  Most experts agree that the best strategy is to pose questions that inspire and motivate the individual to speak candidly without adding stress or pressuring them into answering questions the way they believe the interviewer expects.  These questions are formulated to engage the individual in feeling comfortable sharing their experiences and can help alleviate trepidation (McKee, 2012).  The following twenty questions illustrate only a few samples of many that can be considered appropriate and inappropriate during the interview process:

Questions Deemed Legal by the EEOC

1.)   Explain to me why you may be qualified for this job?

2.)   Are you willing to relocate?

3.)   Can you describe a time when your work was criticized? How were you able to manage the situation?

4.)   Can you describe a time when your workload was heavy?

5.)   If you were hired, what will we know about you one year down the road?

6.)   How do you rate yourself as a professional?

7.)   How do you evaluate success?

8.)   How do you handle stress and pressure on the job?

9.)   How does this position fit in with the career path you envision?

10.)  Can you tell us about a failed project?

Questions Deemed Illegal by the EEOC

1.)   How many times have you been married?

2.)   What kind of relationship do you have with your family?

3.)   Have you ever had sex at work?

4.)   Do you steal or shoplift?

5.)   Do you struggle with weight or feel ugly?

6.)   Have you ever been caught cheating on your spouse?

7.)   What have you done with your life so far?

8.)   What are your religious beliefs?

9.)   What is your sexual preference?

10.)   Do you text and drive?

Conclusion

Employers that are not fully aware of employment and anti-discrimination laws will not be effective in the hiring process.  Rassas (2011) reminds us that it is important for business leaders to have a firm grasp of employment laws and to recognize the limitations (Rassas, 2011). Because no single set of employment laws cover all employers or their employees, business leaders that understand the intricate complexities of employment and discrimination laws will have an edge on their competition. In addition, to discover that silver bullet employee, leaders create effective strategies to recruit top level performers and design job descriptions that inspire and motivate candidates.  They design and implement programs that target quality potentials and refrain from using those that focus on attracting quantity.  The findings of this research conclude that even though violating employment laws can lead to litigation, hiring managers interested in recruiting top level performers must be aware and educated in employment and anti-discrimination laws to prevent legal action and costly fines.

References

Adler, L. (2013). The essential guide for hiring and getting hired. Atlanta, GA: Workbench Media.

McKee, P. (2012). How to answer interview questions. Atlanta, GA: Career Confidential.

Rassas, L. (2011). Employment law: a guide to hiring, managing, and firing employers and employees. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Employment Anti-Discrimination Laws – Part 1

Published September 13, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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One of the most significant tasks business leaders face is attracting and recruiting employees that are top level performers.  In fact Adler’s (2013) research revealed that few hiring managers even consider implementing effective strategies. Furthermore, they do not work in partnership with potential hires, nor do they consider enlisting the help of coaches to attract top performers. For example, most companies still post bland, uninteresting job descriptions, crossing their fingers in hope that they will find the ideal individual who is an organizational fit. In addition, the most shocking aspect of this is that most business leaders focus their resources and efforts going after the 17% of candidates who are actively seeking employment, yet desire to employ the 83% who are not looking for work (Adler, 2013). This research is focused on systems that hiring managers can implement to recruit potential top level performers while avoiding the violation of any employment or anti-discrimination laws.

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To examine the process more effectively, a false scenario is examined that provides an example of skills and hiring techniques that may be useful in recruiting a new full-time departmental employee. For the purpose of this study, the focus is centered on filling an opening position for an administrative assistant. The case study includes a detailed description of the position that is in compliance with federal laws. In addition, to attract top performers, an advertisement has been included that is intended to be directed at social media outlets and job recruiting websites. Also included in the research, to support the analysis, is a series of legal and illegal questions that provide a few samples to illustrate topics hiring managers are permitted to inquiry about and the manner in which to draw out information that is in accordance with EEOC mandates, as well as those that are in violation of them. This research will conclude that hiring managers who are not trained or are unfamiliar with employment and anti-discrimination laws can make poor decisions in the hiring process, risking litigation and exuberant fines.

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The Hiring Process

Employers want to hire top performers, but most are not cognizant of doing so in effective ways and avoid violating anti-discrimination and other significant employment laws. For example, Adler (2013) purports there are a variety of reasons that hiring managers have a hard time finding the best recruits, including that: (a) employers depend on a surplus of candidates during the hiring process, but seek them in a talent scarce environment; (b) candidates do not know how to engage in the hiring game; and (c) few hiring managers take responsibility for attracting quality candidates because they are focused on attracting quantity, hoping to discover that diamond in the rough. These are all significant issues that need to be addressed, dissected, understood, and reframed in a strategic manner to produce the most effective hiring programs that will attract top talent  (Adler, 2013).  Taking these components into consideration, hiring managers must also comprehend why people perform at peak levels while others underperform. Most hiring managers, however, maintain a preconceived notion that employers can remedy any situation that arises after the fact.

Next week’s post will have the conclusion with components that have been designed as an example to illustrate one effective method of how hiring managers can attract top level performers including job description, advertisement, as well as samples of legal and illegal questions that hiring managers can ask.

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References

Adler, L. (2013). The essential guide for hiring and getting hired. Atlanta, GA: Workbench Media.

McKee, P. (2012). How to answer interview questions. Atlanta, GA: Career Confidential.

Rassas, L. (2011). Employment law: a guide to hiring, managing, and firing employers and employees. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Discrimination

Published September 11, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Discrimination

Laws and doctrines help establish the choices that determine the rights of citizens in society regardless of gender, race, or age. Palumbo and Wolfson (2011) explain that many social systems emerged from ancient roots that were cultivated to treat people differently based on the race or sex. In addition, although evidence suggests early matriarchal traditions existed, patriarchal models have dominated Western civilization for millennia (Palumbo & Wolfson, 2011). In fact, the rise of patriarchy produced the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over family and society as a whole. Furthermore, men held power in all important facets of society. In short, a patriarchal system has been enforced, cultivated, legitimated, and perpetuated in a variety of manners throughout the ages and supported by religion and laws. In modern society, however, these practices are now viewed as a form of discrimination that federal government agencies like the EEOC, oversee based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Solicitors-Discrimination

Discrimination in the workplace is an ongoing issue in the evolution of humanity. According to Seaquist (2012) discrimination in a business environment affects not only the individual, but the climate of the company as a whole (Seaquist, 2012). A leader’s best defense, as in any legal issue, is to keep meticulous records, develop effective strategies and policies to discourage discrimination and incorporate systems to monitor behavior that include checks and balances. The challenge, however, that most leaders face, is that there are many forms of discrimination; it is not isolated to race, age, or sex only. In fact, discrimination can appear in the form of class, level of academics, religious preferences, and even based on the kind of pet an individual has. Discrimination in short is a concept that creates separation and distrust in people because it focuses on their “inequalities.”

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Many of the founding fathers of this country believed that equality is the ideal that is at the core and fiber of every human being. Fredman (2011) in the meantime, asked us to contemplate the following concept: “When one person is like another, does that entitle them to be treated alike?” For example, for centuries it was commonly accepted that women were not like men and therefore deserved fewer rights. This concept still exists today in many countries. The same premise is used to deny rights to people of color, ethnic groups, sexual orientation, disability or age. Although one can agree or argue whether individuals are different or alike, many still contemplate as to whether they should or are entitled to be treated equally. This would suggest that the treatment of equality is predicated on the principle that justice is inconsistent. This paradox is evident when we accept that equality is formulated in different ways contingent upon the specific concept that is applied. This explains how the consistencies or inconsistencies of two individuals that appear to be alike, are in fact different in terms of things like: (a) access to power, (b) opportunities, and (c) material benefits that manifest in unequal outcomes. Therefore, an alternative view of inequality emerges that is based on perception of justice that is concentrated on balancing maldistribution (Fredman, 2011). This is one way to explain how discrimination continues to thrive and exist.

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Some employers, however, engage in certain kinds of discrimination to justify their business practices. For example, many of the employees hired as cocktail waitresses in certain environments are employed based on a certain attractive look, age, gender and physical features. The reasoning behind this is that it is part of their marketing strategy which is aimed at a dominant male clientele. Although this can be construed as discrimination, EEOC mandates also protect an employer’s right to choose how to run their business and the marketing strategies they deem effective for their industry. As long as a company can produce evidence to support their business is based on profiting by hiring a certain group, whether based on attractive looks, religion, age, gender, or other criteria, the business can engage in this practice legally and within the framework of employment laws. In other words, a business owner can operate an establishment, hire a specific type of employee for specific duties, and the EEOC will not consider it discrimination as long as the employer can provide substantial reason and evidence to support their justification in doing so, that is consistent in their industry. Ultimately, it is the job of each and every business leader to make sure they are familiar with the business laws that govern their industry to ensure that they are not violating any statutes with respect to employment and discrimination laws.

References:

Fredman, S. (2011). Discrimination law. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Palumbo, C., & Wolfson, B. (2011). The law of sex discrimination (Fourth ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Employer Liability for Negligent Hiring

Published September 9, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Smart business leaders have a firm grasp of comprehending the law and recognizing its limitations when it comes to operating a business. Walsh (2013) explains that, “No single set of employment law covers all workers” (Walsh, 2013). In fact, employment laws consists of a variety of federal, state, and local laws that are contingent upon such things like: (a) whether the individual is a government employee, (b) whether the individual works in the private sector, (c) the size of their company or (d) whether they have any union affiliation. In addition, employment laws are ever changing, as new employment laws are created and old ones are reinterpreted.

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To better understand these laws, we will examine a case study of a scenario involving  a 17 year old plaintiff that seeks damages as a result of being violently assaulted by an employee of the defendant, XYZ Motor Freight Inc. When XYZ hired the employee that committed the assault, they questioned the individual with respect to prior vehicular offenses and criminal convictions. However, due to their position on EEOC discrimination statutes, XYZ only chose to verify his vehicular offenses and ignored his negative response to the criminal convictions inquiry. Rassas (2011) suggests that employers who have a working knowledge of labor law and the obligations of employers can help them avoid litigious events such as this. A lack of knowledge can unintentionally result in a failure to abide by a law and impact the operation of an organization significantly (Rassas, 2011). For example, employment laws have been established to protect both employees and employers by imposing certain responsibilities. For employees, employment at will is a default rule that permit employers to terminate employees without having a good reason. This means the employee has the freedom to engage in collective bargaining with their employers. In addition, according to employment laws, each relationship is subject to the terms and conditions of employment that meet minimum required standards. However, in today’s society the most effective and successful people, whether employer or employee, should also take responsibility and accountability to ensure their own safety as well as those of others.

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XYZ’s position is that it did not seek to verify the criminal background check citing they had no duty to do so because of a lack of foreseeability. They further defended their position stating that to impose such a duty would be against public policy and place too great a burden on them. However, in this case, failing to do so created another burden for them. Seaquist (2012) purports that when an employee is working within the scope of their employment, the employer will be liable to third parties for the torts of their workers under the doctrine of respondent superior (Seaquist, 2012). The plaintiff in this case seeks justice arguing that the employer should have been cognizant that the employee they hired was dangerous because he had a history and a record of violent sex related crimes when they hired him. In other words, by not checking his criminal background they created a dangerous condition by putting him in a situation in which he was able to bring harm to others because they failed to verify his criminal record.

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Both sides have very effective defenses to support their position. XYZ claims they did not verify the criminal background check because they were acting in accordance with EEOC discrimination law issues. However, because the employee was hired to participate in interstate commerce, it is their responsibility to make sure the individual performs their duties to best of their ability and trust they will not engage in misconduct or inappropriate behavior. In my view, if I were a business leader for XYZ, I would be concerned about the damages from the negative publicity alone that a case like this attracts. That is reason enough to engage in thorough employee investigations scrutinizing criminal backgrounds a little closer because of the nature of the trucking industry. As a part of the legal counsel for XYZ, I would suggest a settlement to keep the matter private to preserve the organization’s reputation, and take responsibility for their employee’s ethical misconduct by paying any and all damages to the plaintiff as an act of good faith that supports an ethical corporate climate.

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The plaintiff is in her right to seek damages for being so horrifically violated. However, the jury must decide on whether or not XYZ was responsible for negligence because they were acting in accordance with EEOC mandates with respect to the background check issue. Unfortunately, in a life changing situation as this, hopefully both parties learned some valuable life lessons from this experience. The defendant can begin to take more effective methods to insure the competence of their employees, and the plaintiff came to understand, that although an individual may represent an organization, that does not mean the individual is free of behavior from criminal or ethical misconduct. The moral of the story: never, ever, accept a ride from a stranger. The movie Hitchhiker was a good reminder as to why.

References:

Rassas, L. (2011). Employment law: a guide to hiring, managing, and firing employers and employees. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Walsh, D. (2013). Employment law for human resource practice. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.