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How Can I Promote Allyship for My Business?

When companies decide to create a workplace culture that is more inclusive and diverse, they cannot do so overnight. A workplace ally is an individual who will step up and support a colleague who is marginalized to make sure that colleague is heard and seen. Often, allies are individuals who do not simply assume that preventing discrimination in the workplace is about their own behavior, they see it as their responsibility to elevate those around them by encouraging systemic changes in behavior. Allyship requires one to constantly evolve through self-awareness, as well as pay attention to behaviors that are discriminatory and utilize tactics to improve conduct. The following tactics can increase allyship in the workplace:

Give credit where credit is due. Often, marginalized individuals in the workplace are not given credit for their ideas or opportunities to share them. An ally can implement strategies in meetings whereby contributions are encouraged. Doing so creates a level playing field so that good ideas are given their due credit. Additionally, this allows those who are usually quiet an opportunity to present their views.

Be respectful. Being respectful to others’ identities, roles, and time is a great way to increase allyship. Usage of irrelevant and vague verbiage perpetuates stereotypes. Becoming aware of the language used to describe colleagues and refraining from using common tropes about women, the disabled, LGBTQ+ individuals, and minorities can lead to self-awareness and expose innate biases.  Additionally, taking the time to listen with empathy can create a more inclusive workplace.

Provide mentorship. Allies are often in a position of power or privilege. Utilizing this privilege to mentor or uplift another can boost inclusive company culture. One can use his or her position to advocate, introduce, or recommend a marginalized colleague during employee performance evaluations for promotions and pay increases.

Confront bad behavior. Allies can also intervene when they see a colleague being harassed or discriminated against. Allies can defuse a tense situation by confronting the harasser, and offer support to the harassed, call for others in the company to intervene, or take the time to follow up and show their support. Creating a harassment-free culture in a company starts with encouraging efforts, such as listening with empathy and non-judgement. Allies can use tactics, such as directly intervening when bad behavior is occurring and speaking up when others engage in more subtle remarks that are prejudicial by gently creating awareness of the underlying prejudice and shedding light on each other’s microaggressions.

In order to encourage allyship in the workplace, it may be a good idea to create tools and tactics that help employees recognize and prevent discrimination, harassment, and microaggressions. A company benefits when it creates a safe workplace where all employees can be productive and good ideas can flourish.

The legal team at MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser provides training services and employment seminars, as well as human resource counseling for businesses. Prevent costly litigation by training your employees on harassment, discipline, and other human resource issues. For more information regarding these services, please contact us online or at call us at 484-318-7106. Conveniently located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia, Chester County, and New Jersey.

How Should I Draft an Employee Handbook for My Company?

All businesses, however small, should have an employee handbook in place. A handbook can be utilized to articulate company policy, culture, and manage expectations, as well as help new hires understand how the company works, what it values, and serve as a reference when they have questions regarding employment. Additionally, an employee handbook sets up standards for behavior and consequences for improper conduct. When the rules are clearly articulated, an employer can point to the handbook when an employee’s behavior is unacceptable. This is how employers can ensure fairness and all employees can be subjected to the same rules. Without a handbook, an employer may face liability issues based on federal and state laws.

The process of writing a handbook requires an organization to think about what it values and the type of culture it wants to portray in the workplace. A handbook also allows a business to organize its policies and procedures in one place that can be used as a guide by everyone in the business to operate. Some practices and elements of employee handbooks are common to most businesses, however each employee handbook may have unique elements and style. The following elements should be included in every employee handbook:

Introduction: This section of the handbook should provide background information, a brief history, and the purpose of the handbook. This section can also provide a mission statement or a company vision for the future. It is advisable to state that the handbook is subject to revisions.

Notice of Anti-Discrimination Laws: Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, disability, and other classifications. The handbook should notify employees of their rights and means for reporting violations, as well as outline the procedure by which employees can have their rights addressed.

Intellectual Property Rights: Businesses should provide a section regarding their intellectual property rights to trademarks, trade secrets, patents, and other company know-how. Employees should be aware that rights to intellectual property created belong to the company and not the individual employee.

Confidentiality: The handbook should outline a company’s policy regarding confidentiality of company trade secrets and other sensitive information.  Additionally, confidentiality of employee information should be addressed. There should be a section regarding employee privacy to sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and payroll. Employees should also be aware of an obligation for nondisclosure of important and sensitive company information.

Benefits: The handbook should provide information on sick leave, paid leave, vacation time, and company-paid holidays. It should also provide information on other benefits provided, such as eligibility for participation in a 401k and other retirement plans, as well as health, dental, and life insurance policies.

Payroll and Attendance: The handbook should clearly outline pay periods and overtime pay for those who are classified and eligible to receive it. It should also clearly state the attendance policy, including policies regarding working from home. This section should define how completed work should be reported and how notifications regarding leave of absence can be made.

Safety Protocols: The handbook should outline Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and provide procedures for reporting work injuries.

Code of Conduct: This section should articulate expectations regarding dress code, appropriate behavior toward coworkers, and interactions with customers and clients.

An experienced employment attorney can craft an employee handbook this is aligned with a company’s overall mission and also complies with federal and state laws.

The legal team atMacMain, Connell & Leinhauser provides a range of human resource counseling, including a creation and review of employer policies and handbooks to minimize legal exposure. For an initial consultation, please call us at 484-318-7106 or contact us online. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia, Chester County, and New Jersey.