Why Many Media Organizations Are Unsafe for Women — HR Study



One would think the news media would be a safe workplace. But for many women, it isn’t. Nearly two-thirds of female journalists worldwide responding to a study say they’ve faced abuse, harassment and threats in the workplace.

The 2013 global study — conducted by the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and the International Women’s Media Foundation — reveals about 64 percent of respondents say they face such hazards.

Most of the threatening behavior was from bosses or co-workers. Regarding sexual harassment: 45 percent from co-workers and 28 percent from their bosses.

“When we talk about safety for the media, we often think in terms of staying safe in war zones, civil unrest and environmental disasters, but how often do we think of the office as a hostile environment?” said INSI Director Hannah Storm in a press release.

Hannah Storm

        Hannah Storm (LinkedIn)

“What this ground-breaking survey shows is that women journalists are often at risk in their own work places as well: targeted by their colleagues, and because they are let down by the very people they should be able to trust, the violence and harassment they face goes widely unreported and therefore unpunished,” she added.

Some 875 women participated in the study.

Here is the geographical breakdown:

— Africa (12.69 percent/111)

— Arab states (5.37 percent/47)

— Asia and Pacific (28.69 percent/251)

— The Commonwealth of Independent States (1.171 percent/15)

— Europe (19.43 percent/170)

— Latin/South America (11.20 percent/98)

— North America (21.60 percent/189)

Age-wise, some 41 percent were between 25 and 34.

More than 82 percent of them were reporters.

Workplaces where the dangers lurked: 

— Newspapers – About 49 percent

— Magazines – 23 percent

— Television – 21 percent

— Radio – 16 percent

A lesson for all companies: More than 400 of the women said their companies failed to prepare them for dealing with harassment.

In addition, my sense is that news organizations need to make harassment training mandatory.

The preceding data is just a snapshot. For the voluminous details, see the study.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are HR management tips:

 HR Tips — So Your Recruiting Enhances Diversity, Not Sexism — Can we agree that a diverse workplace leads to innovation, problem-solving and enhanced enterprise communication? And, as you know, inequality is unlawful. Why then are there so many companies that unknowingly, perhaps, promote sexism? 

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

Human Resources: 4 Reasons Why New Managers Fail — Best practices guarantee success for new managers. Not to over-simplify, but there are often four reasons why new managers are unsuccessful – ineffective communication, failure to develop trusting relationships, weak results, and a failure to delegate. 

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap — News headlines continue to show there are a myriad of ways managers set themselves for lawsuits. Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints.  

10 Tips on Responding to EEOC Complaints — Despite all the court cases, warnings and complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a study shows big companies are guilty of favoritism in their promotion practices. 

“In a fascist shift, reporters start to face more and more harassment, and they have to be more and more courageous simply in order to do their jobs.”

-Naomi Wolf

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap



News headlines continue to show there are a myriad of ways managers set themselves up for lawsuits. Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints.

The majority of lawsuits targeting management usually stem from a half dozen poor practices.

You’ll get into trouble using these six bad practices:

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1. Adherence to policies and procedures

Time and again, businesses are sued because managers fail to comply with company policy manuals.

Principals should always review policy manuals with managers, and get a signed receipt indicating that they understand policies.

Yes, any manager who strays from policy should be disciplined.

Only then, the managers should review the handbook with non-exempt staff.

2. Following discrimination and harassment policies

Periodically remind managers to be diligent to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Their employment status will be affected if they fail to adhere to policies, or if they to act professionally should policy violations occur.

3. Poor management of employee problems

Make certain managers know how to respond – not react in a knee-jerk fashion to employee problems. That means thinking about how to respond in all situations.

Typical worker problems include attendance, alcoholism drug use, and insubordination.

4. Retaliation or the appearance of being retaliatory

For example, courts frown on transfers if they look like a demotion. It looks suspicious if an employee suddenly receives an unsatisfactory performance appraisal or is not treated equally like other workers.

5. Terminations

Courts look to make certain terminations are handled well legally, and with civility and fairness. Typically, there are three key HR questions you must answer to the courts’ satisfaction when you terminate workers.

6. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Typical problems result from FMLA misunderstandings over attendance policy, eligibility, notice requirements and worker reinstatement.

From the Coach’s Corner, for more strategies, here are related articles:

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — If you’re an out-of-work attorney, the good news is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is on a hiring binge. The EEOC’s Web site also indicates the agency is recruiting for investigators to handle employment discrimination complaints. Of course, mediators, administrative support, managers, and IT personnel are also in demand. That means federal employment discrimination complaints are sky-high — a sad commentary for businesses and public agencies that are large enough for a human resources department.

21 Quick Tips to Avoid the Dark Side of Management — It’s true that not all complaints are valid. Many aren’t. Some originate from mere office politics. Managing employees is difficult. So the purpose here is not to indict the managers who are professional assiduous, empathetic, good motivators and make sure their workplace stays out of legal trouble. Here’s how to avoid HR troubles.

Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations — How should you properly evaluate employees? Make sure you are careful to avoid errors in evaluations. Naturally, you want to praise good performance and discourage bad. Commonly, there are 12 errors that managers make in performance evaluations.

Management — 4 Mindsets for Leadership in Performance Reviews — Are you nervous at the thought of giving employee-performance reviews? You’re not alone. Your employees aren’t exactly thrilled, either. Typically, employees aren’t convinced they can get valid feedback. If they’ve experienced poor managers, they likely dread the performance-review process or are skeptical of the outcome.

3 Often Asked Questions – Hiring and Laying Off Workers — Employers often ponder hiring and firing in this uncertain economy. So if you’re like many employers, coping with a tepid economic environment, you might need to re-think your approach to human resources, too. As you analyze your situation, wisdom and courage are your best friends in addressing three typical questions about guidelines in this uncertain economy.

Cutting Costs — 9 Best Practices to Avoid Making Reactionary Decisions — In chaotic times, it’s common for businesspeople to be fearful and reactionary when they feel they must cut expenses. But entrepreneurs need to be unemotional so that they make decisions that will bolster their objectives. They can take the emotion out of their decision-making — by eliminating stress factors – if their priorities are clearly defined with values. This is facilitated by documenting goals and priorities.

“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.”
-John D. Rockefeller

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Got an Abusive Boss? Here’s How to Deal with Harassment



In the private and public sectors, organizational performance is strong when employees are managed properly. Employees perform well and they are confident in their employers.

So it was disturbing when someone asked me what to do about an abusive boss.

The degreed employee had just received a negative-performance appraisal, and is a white-collar professional over 40 years old.

The thumb of the boss putting pressure down on an employee.The appraisal threatened a coaching and counseling session in 90 days as a precursor to being terminated.

So I asked some open-ended questions to get the person to open up to me.

The person mentioned examples of increasing hostility from the boss, micro-management, uneven treatment compared to coworkers, and reduced duties after trying to speak up.

Also cited were cases of other employees who were forced out after long tenures.

Among my conclusions: The boss was guilty of age discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

Even in the face of such bad management, my personal philosophy is to try to avoid calling attorneys or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The self-esteem benefits from triumphing over such adversities are worth it.

So, before calling the EEOC, I suggested an alternative. Why?

Despite the likelihood of age discrimination, harassment and retaliation, often all is needed is a sophisticated assertive response.

My counsel included these measures:

  • Respond in writing to the appraisal after doing some research. (Research should include best-practices management, related-EEOC definitions on discrimination and harassment, the organization’s employee handbook and the organization’s published management principles.)
  • Then compare the supervisor’s behavior with the best-practices management, EEOC standards, and the organization’s employee handbook and management principles .
  • Document and compile a list of management misbehavior – try to reach the magic number of six allegations of poor management.
  • Write a response using the following five steps in “How To Assertively Voice  A Complaint.”

Despite the likelihood of age discrimination, harassment and retaliation, often all is needed is a sophisticated assertive response.

In “How To Assertively Voice  A Complaint,” there are five steps:

  1. Ask for a meeting and suggest two options (e.g., “How about Monday at 10 or Wednesday at 2?” ).  It’s a good sign if the person selects the first option. Either the boss is a decent person or anxious to find out what’s on the employee’s mind.
  2. At the start of the meeting, give the person two strokes – two valid compliments. Even an abusive boss has two qualities worth mentioning. The extreme example I use in HR teamwork classes is Adolph Hitler, the world’s most notorious madman. Even Hitler could have been complimented for his cunning and for being an excellent orator, right? I suggested to the employee  –  in the event two qualities didn’t come to mind – then, the employee is culpable, too, because of  a negative or fearful attitude. Negative or fearful attitudes are manifested in poor work performance.  (What, if any of the supervisor’s criticism is valid?)
  3. Hand the supervisor the written response that includes steps 2-5 , starting with the compliments and mention how and why the boss  makes the employee feel uncomfortable. NOTE: Here’s where you insert your six complaints. (e.g. “I feel uncomfortable when…”).
  4. Then, tell the person what you want (e.g. “What I want is…”)
  5. Get a contract or an agreement by asking a simple question (e.g. “Are you willing to…?”). Then, pause and wait for the person to answer. If the person agrees, shake hands and watch for improvement. If the person says no, don’t make any threats but politely leave and head for the telephone to call the EEOC. Remember in adversarial situations,  never  give away your power by telegraphing your next move.

In the three decades I have used this assertive process – or taught it to others – it has always worked. True to form, the employee received a re-worded employee appraisal with the threat of termination deleted.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more resources to deal with bosses: 

Nervous About Your New Boss? Here’s How to Deal with It — Whether you just got a new job or whether your company just assigned a new boss for you, it might seem hard to deal with it. But deal with it you must. Learn to develop poise and to manage your boss.

6 Tips for Baby Boomers to Cope with a Younger Boss — If you’re a gainfully employed baby boomer, please accept my congratulations on your good fortune. However, many boomers are saddled with a boss who is a young, less-experienced Millennial. That can be hard to take but it doesn’t have to be.

Dos and Don’ts: How to Advance Your Career via Your Boss’s Boss — You can improve your career prospects by maximizing your communications – with your boss’s boss — if you respect the process. Not only will such opportunities optimize your prospects, they will give you a broader perspective about upper management’s concerns and insights.

Proof Positive: How Supportive Spouses Help in Work-Related Stress — First, it was the book, “The Millionaire Mind.” The book by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley revealed several traits of millionaires. One important statistic from his study of millionaires: They were successful largely thanks to a supportive spouse.

10 Strategies to Overcome Stress and Energize Your Career If job stress is slowing you down, you can jumpstart your career with these 10 reminders.

“Show me a man who is a good loser and I’ll show you a man who is playing golf with his boss.”

– Jim Murray


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits



If you’re an out-of-work attorney, the good news is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is on a hiring binge. The EEOC’s Web site also indicates the agency is recruiting for investigators to handle employment discrimination complaints.

Of course, mediators, administrative support, managers, and IT personnel are also in demand.

That means federal employment discrimination complaints are sky-high — a sad commentary for businesses and public agencies that are large enough for a human resources department.

thinking-272677_1280This portal has received complaints that HR departments appear to be supporting and implementing such retaliation. Employees ask for ideas on how to deal with abusive employers in both the private and public sectors.

State courts across the nation are also filled with discrimination cases, too, because complainants want to avoid the federal caps on monetary damages.

Historically, high-profile harassment cases are a catalyst for additional complaints by other workers.

EEOC cases also lead to declining morale, retention problems and poor productivity, which are also costly.

While a federal-agency investigation doesn’t necessarily indicate a company is guilty of discrimination, it’s a serious situation and there are several measures that will insure success.

The first step in fighting lawsuit abuse is risk management

Veteran managers are often guilty and so are new managers who need to learn the right strategies to succeed.

Here are the six basics for micro-companies to remember:

1. Get a mentor and join your local chamber of commerce.
2. Consider outsourcing your payroll.
3. Implement benefits and retirement plans.
4. Create a policy and procedures handbook (job descriptions, hiring, appraisals, compensation, firing and operations).
5. Stay aware of all employment laws.
6. Document everything.

For larger companies, every company’s situation is different, but in general there are 13 basics to avoid EEOC headaches. In my experience, it’s important to learn how and why complaints are filed, and to treat employees with respect and confidentiality.

Law firms have asked my company to help their clients after U.S. District Court actions. In one case, I was asked to implement a wage and compensation plan after a trucking firm inadvertently violated federal laws. A well-meaning technology employer was fined for comments in an inappropriate interview-process and I was asked to conduct sexual harassment training.

Both companies were heavily fined and their lawyers cost even more. One company is no longer in business. So, it’s vital to know the proactive steps to eliminate workplace discrimination and harassment, and the practical benefits to you of equal opportunities for employees.

The key is to start where the proverbial tire meets the road – when employees are hired.

For larger companies, every company’s situation is different, but in general there are 13 basics to avoid EEOC headaches … it’s important to learn how and why complaints are filed, and to treat employees with respect and confidentiality.

Here are 13 strategies:

Fully understand the required skillsets. Naturally, first decide what each job requires. When a person leaves, decide what additional qualities you want in the job description. While experience and skills are an important consideration for meeting your requirements, there are several other considerations including hiring for attitude and professional appearance and aptitude for teamwork and customer service.

Review your application process. The appearance of discrimination can be unfortunate opportunities for applicants or the EEOC to file complaints regarding your hiring decisions. Review your interview checklist questions and employment applications so that you only inquire about applicants’ talent for the job and availability for attendance according to your required work hours.

When anyone requests an application stay safe by providing it, but don’t do it selectively to avoid the appearance of discrimination. Don’t set deadlines for applicants to apply unless you strictly adhere to them.

Interviewing. When you interview, ask open-ended questions to get the applicant to talk about any issues related to the job. Closed-ended answers in which an applicant answers with a “yes” or “no” won’t be productive. You’ll want to know about the person’s attitudes, expectations and values. A skilled interviewer is careful about commenting on an applicant’s answers.

Background checks. A background check is critical. If you ask questions of a reference or former employer, make certain to take the same precautions as you do with the applicant. If you utilize credit reports, adhere to the provisos in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Making an offer. Put your offer in writing to successful applicants, but stipulate that you’re an at-will employer. State the salary in weekly or monthly amounts – so that longtime employment tenure is not implied – and whether there are any contingencies, such pre-employment medical exams. Hopefully, you have highly trained interviewers, but make clear that the letter is your company’s last word in employment and that it supersedes any other representations by interviewers.

Drug testing is often valuable for screening purposes. Applicants with a drug history will sometimes withdraw their applications, but the test is effective for those who don’t. In my experience, drug users are the most dishonest employees – at a much higher rate than even alcoholics.

Insuring success. Make full use of your probationary period. Assuming an employee adequately demonstrates technical skills, remember the No. 1 employer-complaint about new hires is their lack of soft skills – a poor attitude and inability to communicate effectively with coworkers and customers. Appraise them accordingly.

Employee handbook. For legal and productivity reasons, the employee handbook should be utilized to inform employees of your expectations. But clearly state a disclaimer – it’s not an employment contract – employment is conditional. Either party may terminate without cause or notice. Preferably, employees will be given an acknowledgment form regarding their at-will employment status.

The handbook should include policies such as attendance, benefits, vacation, employee-monitoring systems, probationary periods, sick leave, and FMLA (family and medical leave, if you employ 50 or more workers).

Make clear the company will not tolerate harassment and the procedures for reporting it. Remember, employers are liable for behavior of their employees. Should harassment allegations be raised by an employee, be sure to follow through with an immediate investigation and discipline, if proven, and don’t tolerate retaliation. Sexual harassment training, in particular, should be regularly given.

Avoid favoritism. Be consistent make sure of adherence to policies.

Be proactive about workplace complaints. Do not avoid taking action. Make sure you are actively listening.

Safety counts. Be empathetic and show respect. Be safety conscious.

Wage and hour practices. Stay current with all state and federal wage and hour laws and regulations. Some companies have run into trouble because their hourly employees are working longer hours as exempt managers and not paid for overtime. Carefully document your records.

Of course, try to be competitive in pay and benefits.

Continuous policy training. To insure success, make certain managers, human resource interviewers and workers are knowledgeable about your business policies. You’ll be in a better position to prevent harassment, hire correctly and appraise employees accurately. You’ll also be in a stronger position, if you do encounter the threat of litigation. Stay on top of all details, but also be mindful of the protected classes of workers to avoid federal intervention.

Evaluations and terminations. Supervisors and managers must be schooled in worker behavior, performance and if necessary, terminations. Not to oversimplify, but remember every employee is entitled to know three things: What’s expected; what’s in it for them; and how they’re doing.

Make certain that terminated employees can’t conclude they’re being let go for reasons of discrimination. Again, that means documentation and thorough footwork.

These minimal reminders will help you to avoid employment and EEOC traps. However, if you do find yourself in the EEOC crosshairs, be careful how you respond in crafting your position.

From the Coach’s Corner, this portal’s HR section has several dozen management tips.

Also, here are informative federal-government Web sites:

– U.S. Department of Labor, www.dol.gov

– U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, www.eeoc.gov

“Discrimination is a disease.”

-Roger Staubach


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.