Corporate Culture and Compliance Project
What is the Corporate Culture and Compliance Project ("CCCP")?
The CCCP is a new initiative being started by GELC. The purpose of this project is to create corporate transparency around internal company policies and practices with regard to how well these corporations actually implement family friendly policies and leave practices.
Why We Are Committed to Establishing The CCCP?
At GELC we know it is not enough for a corporation to hold itself out as complying with existing law that provide for protected family leave or pregnancy accommodation; or promote internal family friendly policies such as paid parental leave and flex time for working parents. GELC, our working partners and the many civil rights lawyers who have represented hundreds of clients in FMLA, pregnancy acommodation and gender-discrimination cases have seen time and time again that nontwithstanding that corporations may say verbally and in writing that they are in compliance with existing family leave laws and pregnancy accommodations they frequently do not create a culture or follow up with compliance that makes it possible for employees to access these laws without being penalized at work. Moreover, many corporations fail to take seriously retaliation against employees who try and balance work and family by actually using laws that have been promulgated to protect them from discriminaiton. Corporations who tout their own policies that exceed requirements provided by law, for instance paid parental leave and flex time policies still often fail to ensure that their management is creating a culture in which employees do not fear reprisals for using these benefits. In short, relying on an old catchy phrase, many employers "talk the talk," but do not "walk the walk."
What Do We Mean When We Say That Employers Need to "Walk The Walk?"
We mean that employers need to undertake a serious commitment to combatting implicit bias in their workplaces and toward creating enforcement mechanisms that will ensure that violations of laws and policies
are promptly remediated.
Specifically, we intend to assess and evaluate corporations' commitment to ensuring worklife balance in the following three ways:
(1) create a corporate culture in which employees know that they can become pregant, take time off to bond with new children and attend to eldercare obligations without seeing their careers and compensation stagnate. Employees need to see that from the top down high level employees can avail themselves of family friendly policies without experiencing ramifications to their career.
(2) are vigilant in training their managers and supervisors not to discriminate against employees who decide to start families and needed related time off to do so, or to care for other ill relatives. tThis means addressing head on implicit biases that historically have played a role in how we evaluate the competence and value of employees who decide to have children or attend to family care. These include the belief that once women become mothers they are less committed to their jobs; or converesely, if they don't seem to make children their priority they are some how "bad mothers." For male employees who take time off to care for and/or bond with young children they experience other stereotypes. They are viewed as less masculine and less committed to their jobs because family care conflicts with implicit biases related to competence as a breadwinner. Both sets of stereotypes are harmful to employees who seek to balance work and family during their early careers. Family Responsibilities Discriminaiton is a real problem in the workplace unless addressed systemically. LINK TO JOAN WILLIAMS WORK???
On a less pyschological and more pragmatic level, managers need to be trained on how to handle short term absences from employees who are pregnant, recovering from childbirth, bonding with a new infant or taking care of a sick relative. All employers become anxious when an employee nees to be out of work, even on a short term basis. But employees who are traininged on how to utlize creative strategies to both "offboard," and "onboard" employees who may be out of work and to see this as a regular part of corporate life both meanignfully embrace work life balance as well as retain many qualified employees.
(3) ensure that these laws and internal policies have meaning, employers need to implement procedures that employees can use to complain about discrimination and retalaition. Procedures that are easy to access for employees at all levels of a company and that can gurantee an employee will not be retaliated against for coming forward. Employers need to ensure that investigations are unbiased in conducting investigations and that if they do no refer such investigations to outside entities that those employees are trained in meainingfully initiating and following documented investigation procedures. Only in this way can an employee coming forward hope to both receive prompt relief from discrimination but also to avoid being retaliated against.
Who Will This Transparency Serve?
We believe that prospective employees want to know and should be informed before they accept a potential job what the corporate culture will be like down the rooad when they decide to have children and/or when they need time time off to care for a loved one. Because, isn't knowing that one's income and job opportunities will be protected when you need time off from the work in the future just as important as knowing what the current compensation package is being offered (and future opportunities for increases will be ) when considering potential job offers?
We believe in making corporations accountable not only to their current and prospective employees but also to consumers who are interested in and/or creating so-called progressive family leave policies if they do not ensure these policies are followed in practice. This starts with creating a culture that gives a clear message to employees that they can and should use family leave, and senior management who lead by example can have a big impact. In addition, a corporation must establish effective training for irs managers, along with appropriate oversight and accountability by senior management. Along with these initiatives, employers must also create meaningful complaint mechanisms to handle perceived violations of laws and policies and robust procedures to remediate any found violations. We have chosen to focus on large and mid-size corporations
Our project will survey a wide group of American companies and in doing so to compare and contrast what policies, diversity initiatives, directives, training mandates, oversight, practices and enforcement remedies each has in place to ensure a work-life balance exists for its employees.
Our objective is to make these benchmarks transparent, with a particular focus on providing information to two groups:
Prospective employees who desire information about the culture of a potential employer before accepting an offer of employment (most workers today say that work-life balance is one of the most valued benefits of any workplace); and
Consumers, particularly Millennials, who are committed to aligning their core values with their purchasing power. Millennials have come of age at a time when pay equity, as well as shared parenting, is significantly more important to them than previous generations of workers and parents.
If you are interested in scheduling a training or joining a round table discussion on the Corporate Culture and Compliance Project, please contact us.