ETHICS AND LEADERSHIP

Read:

· Required

· Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead (1st ed.). New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

· Chapter 7: Don’t Leave Before You Leave

· Chapter 8: Make Your Partner a Real Partner

· Chapter 9: The Myth of Doing It All

· Chapter 10: Let’s Start Talking About It

· Chapter 11: Working Together Toward Equality

· Module notes

Module 5: Module Notes: Importance of Identifying & Responding to Employment Discrimination

Although this is not a course on employment law, law and ethics frequently overlap. Therefore, it is important for public administrators to consider the impact of employment laws on their organization and employees from a leadership perspective as well. Leaders in the public sector should ensure that their teams understand their legal and ethical obligations and how they can prevent and address discrimination.

The legal landscape can be quite complicated for the public sector. Both state and federal statutes and case law can apply, in addition to the Constitutional requirements that apply to public sector employees to which private sector employers are generally not subject. Being able to identify and effectively respond to potential employment discrimination situations are a key part of successfully leading diverse teams. As an ethical matter, creating a safe workplace free from discrimination and harassment promotes ethical conduct and integrity.

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One key employment law is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This, and other Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws, provides a framework of workplace protections against sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, and national origin. The scenarios addressed in this module will help you to identify potential legal liability and obstacles that you might face so that you can successfully lead diverse teams.

Module 5: Module Notes: Ethics, Laws, and Leadership

In this module, you will consider how employment law, ethics, and leadership issues intersect for The Pedestrian Advocates of Excelsiorville (PAE). As the Executive Director of PAE, Amber has certain ethical responsibilities from both legal and leadership perspectives. Let’s go through these responsibilities.

Legal Perspective

Even though PAE has grown in the last two years, it still has only 10 employees, which means it is not subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. Amber should therefore ensure that she is aware of any state and local laws that impact nonprofit employers with fewer than 15 employees like PAE.

In addition to understanding the applicable EEO laws which PAE is subject to, Amber should consider the legal and ethical implications of any employment policies or employment decisions that she makes. She can apply ethical theories to help her determine the best allocation of resources for PAE as a small nonprofit organization. She can seek advice from experts like HR consultants or attorneys when situations arise that are beyond her scope of expertise. She can also seek training for herself and her leadership team to ensure they are equipped to identify and respond adequately to diversity issues in the workplace.

Leadership Perspective

From a leadership perspective, Amber should consider how she sets the tone as the organization’s key executive. She can send a message from the top-down that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated and that any allegations of such will be promptly investigated, even in a small organization. Again, seeking leadership training or staying abreast of pertinent issues through a professional association, for instance, can help Amber maintain high ethical and legal standards for the organization.

How will you successfully lead diverse teams as a public administrator?

MPA506 M5D1

Read and respond (approximately 250 words each) 

M5D1: The Myth of Doing it All

Sandberg examines in Chapter 9 of Lean In the “myth of doing it all” and focuses on the guilt or anxiety that mothers who work outside the home often feel about their choices. This drive to try to do it all can cause burnout not only for women, but also men. In this discussion, you will contemplate ways to help yourself and your team to avoid burnout. This will increase productivity and job satisfaction, and will make you a better leader and your team more effective. As Sandberg argues, the “best way to make room for both life and career is to make choices deliberately—to set limits and stick to them.”

ONE:

One item I would offer is flexible working hours. According to Sandberg (2013), 65% of families are dual income and can feel stress when it comes to childcare needs. Meanwhile, single parents, of course, face more challenges as they have fewer resources at their disposal (Sandberg, 2013). By having flexible hours, workers have more control over their day without having to take leave or unpaid time off to handle personal matters. It will enable parents to take their children to school or meet any other needs as required. I would also offer teleworking opportunities where possible, though not every job can accommodate this.

Sandberg (2013) also explained how hard it is to come back to work after maternity leave. She also discussed how she worked during her maternity leave as well (Sandberg, 2013). To combat this issue, I would institute policies that would reduce the burden on all new parents by allowing them to come back part-time and ease back into work after parental leave was up. I would also disallow contacting people out on parental or medical leave to allow them to recover.

Additionally, I would also institute a workflow monitoring policy so that managers can ensure there is an equal and equitable distribution of labor. This would help reduce employee burnout that may occur from excessive workloads. Moreover, as I deal with salaried personnel, I would discourage overtime as there is no benefit to them working more and at non-peak conditions.

Finally, I would also give employees the appropriate training and resources to manage stress so that they have the tools necessary to decompress. If possible, I would also have a gym on the premises and allow exercise breaks to help employees engage in healthy activities.

Of course, it is always easier to prescribe policies to reduce burnout in your employees than follow your own advice and take care of yourself. I would (and do) use flexible working hours when appropriate. Some days I go in just a little later if I know I will be staying late that day. This allows me more time to rest and be prepared for the day without risking early burnout.

Being in a leadership position, I am also aware of all work that needs to be completed in the department. Unfortunately, there is not always enough time or resources to handle them all. This elevates my risk of burnout. How I have developed a strategy to help monitor my workload. I organize work into three categories: Must-Have, Should-Have, and Nice-to-Have. For Must-Haves, I ensure they are prioritized and are completed daily. Should-Haves then follow in prioritization, and if I can get them done that day, great, but if it is delayed, I won’t fret about it. Finally, Nice-to-Haves are the lowest priority, and if I don’t get around to them, I will not stress about it. Having my work organized in this fashion helps to reduce my stress overall.

Of course, I have trouble handling all of my stress. I currently have 85 days of leave on the books. I have not taken any meaningful breaks from work, and this is certainly something I should consider changing to reduce my chances of burnout.

References

Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead. Random House LLC. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Women-Work-Will-Lead-ebook/dp/B009LMTDL0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

TWO:

Workplace burnout is a reality that is faced by most that spend an extended time in the same place.  Whether it is the same people day-to-day, or just the arrival and departure at the same place every day.  Over the years, I have had a number of commanders that have attempted to make the environment one that is continually evolving in an attempt to avoid the inevitable burnout.  While none of them were ever completely successful, I was able to learn a little from each of them to assist me in my transition.  One of the very first things I will implement is clear lines of open communication.  In my experience when a supervisor attempts to be too hands off then it can give the appearance that they don’t care or are not invested in their employees.  To make sure that doesn’t happen I would have a weekly feedback session to discuss short term and long-range plans and listen to feedback about efficiencies and any issues that might need to be addressed.  The other area would focus on would be on rewarding innovation in the workplace.  This is something that I have considered since working on the continual process improvement plan for my base over the course of the last year.  It would be a day off of the employees choosing for identifying a process and working toward a viable solution to streamline it or outright improve it.  Having programs available like this should keep their interest and always give us something to talk about and avoid the dreaded burn out.

The “burn out” issue for me would be one of focused self-improvement and displaying to my staff that there is always something to work on.  While that may seem like a way to avoid answering the question, it is how I approach the idea of stagnation or burn out.  By identifying something that I can work on, I motivate myself toward self-improvement.  This has always been one of my strengths and a way that I never have get too comfortable and lackadaisical.  I have used this character trait on many occasions to show others that self-improvement can be one of the best things not just for yourself, but for the company as s whole.  My pursuit of my master’s degree is the perfect example of this.  Technically I am not required to have a master’s degree in my military career until I am working toward my promotion to Major, but I chose to start working on it as a Second Lieutenant.  I did this not just to create opportunities for myself outside of the military, but to show those that I work with and work for that I am motivated to advance.  I have found that the best way to show those around me that I am ready to take on new or higher responsibility is to be out in front of it.  This has been how I have kept myself motivated on a daily basis over the last twenty-three years and I hope over the next twenty years to come.

THREE:

I must say that my workplace and supervisor never speak of workplace burnout.  Before I started this new telework schedule, I used to share an office with one other person, and together we created our burnout free zone.  First, I must add that we are friends at work and on our time off. Our families connect after work for activities such as barbeques, sporting events, and the occasional night out. We created a meaningful relationship so we look forward to coming to work with each other. We listen to music to create a calming atmosphere. When the weather is beautiful, we go for walks outside and in inclement weather, we walk inside the hospital. Our previous hospital director used to have walking meetings and invited individuals throughout the hospitals to join on some of them. My co-worker/friend and I both took turns to attend the stress management meetings/class offered by the mental health department in our hospital.  I try to take 2 days off per month and my supervisor is fully onboard with it.

I did some research on the best ways to prevent workplace burnout and to my surprise, the measures that we’ve implemented are all listed as ways to prevent burnouts minus the music.  Meinert (2017) mentions some ways to be proactive about preventing employee burnouts as holding walking meetings, relieving stress by taking mental days off and vacation, adjusting workload, and building relationships. (Meinart, 2017).  I would implement all of the above with my employees. I would ensure that the workload is evenly distributed between members of the team. Ensuring that they are all crossed trained on each other’s duties.  I would pay for professionals to come into my department and facilitate classes like gentle yoga, stress management, and meditation just to name a few. Note that I said to pay for these classes, I would want the best of the best to guide my employees through these processes and I feel that it would show that I care about their wellbeing. Additionally, I will keep track of how often employees take leave and even recommend employees take time off if I sense that they are getting burned out. I would take advantage of all the measures that I mention.

References

Meinert, D. (2017, July 19). How to Prevent Employee Burnout. SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/0817/pages/how-to-prevent-employee-burnout.aspx

MPA506 M5D2

Read and respond (approximately 250 words each) 

M5D2: Discrimination in the Workplace

In 2011, New York University (NYU) reached a $210,000 settlement in a case filed by a mailroom employee from Ghana alleging racial and national origin harassment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) report, the mailroom supervisor in NYU’s library regularly addressed this employee with slurs such as “monkey” and “gorilla” and insults such as “go back to your cage” and “do you want a banana?” The supervisor also called the employee’s accented English “gibberish” and expressed hostility to African immigrants. Although the employee made several formal complaints, NYU took months to investigate and then took virtually no corrective action, even after being alerted that the supervisor had retaliated against the employee for filing complaints.

Although NYU is a private university, this lawsuit could have come out of any number of public institutions. Reflect on the ethical, legal, and leadership aspects involved in this case.

ONE:

Sadly, my overall reaction to this case is not of surprise. These types of discrimination often get swept under the rug or dismissed as harmless jokes. These are difficult situations to maneuver socially. As such, many leaders take the easy path rather than the ethical one. I have seen many instances of people acting extremely unprofessionally and inappropriately toward each other. In many of those cases, I have observed similar leadership outcomes, not wanting to engage or admit that there is a problem in their team. Additionally, given that college employees were support staff, the college may have simply deprioritized their needs and complaints as they could be viewed as replaceable. 

The university has an ethical responsibility to ensure that employees do not work under hostile conditions. Ethically speaking, equal opportunity is never realized if the workplace does not actively encourage its employees and ensure success (Sandberg, 2013). Moreover, an employer can be held legally accountable if an employee works under such an environment, and they did not take steps to resolve the issue promptly (Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 1998). Therefore, NYU should have investigated this compliant upon the first report of discrimination in the workplace. While I believe the occurrence should have been officially documented, the initial step should have been formal verbal counseling. Here they would inform the supervisor that the behavior is unacceptable and if there were further occurrences, which would result in suspension or termination of employment and possibly additional legal ramifications. The university should also consider having the employee take training courses on appropriate workplace conduct. If enough evidence of the wrongdoing is present, the university should also demote the supervisor. After addressing the situation, if the behavior continues, the university should follow through and terminate the supervisor.

Meanwhile, the university should also take steps to help the employee that made the original complaint. They should first ensure that they will not receive any retaliation from the supervisor or others who may support the supervisor. They should also offer the employee alternative work options such as transferring departments or changing shifts to ensure they do not work under that supervisor.

When dealing with this situation, a leader must be timely in their response to enhance the effectiveness of their following actions. A report of discrimination should not be deprioritized because it is inconvenient or “trivial.” Additionally, leaders should display level-headedness to hear both sides of the story and act appropriately in both parties’ interests. Moreover, an effective leader should act swiftly to take any corrective actions. Leaders who delay judgment risk the circumstance escalating beyond verbal altercation and being legally responsible by association.

From the information we were presented, the situation was handled about as poorly as possible by NYU. The supervisor likely has acted this way in the past and had not been corrected, thus making them think that either that conduct was okay or just made them feel they were beyond reproach. In these situations, leaders can establish truly toxic environments, such as seen in this case. An ethical and effective leader must not turn a blind eye to poor conduct for this reason.

References

Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth (524 U.S. 742, 1998). Retrieved from http://www-lexisnexis-com.vlib.excelsior.edu/lnacui2api/api/version1/getDocCui?oc=00240&hnsd=f&hgn=t&lni=3TGV-N290-002K-600D&hns=t&

perma=true&hv=t&hl=t&csi=6496&secondRedirectIndicator=true

Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead. Random House LLC. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Women-Work-Will-Lead-ebook/dp/B009LMTDL0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

TWO:

Appalling.  That is the first word that comes to mind when I reviewed that case.  That anyone would have to be treated poorly in the workplace is bad enough, but to have to suffer indignities as a result of your race or skin color is appalling.  As I was reading, I kept thinking not about the management that was tolerating this environment, but the coworkers and what they thought about the situation.  Did they participate?  Did they try to stop it?  Did they turn a blind eye and just focus on what they had going on?  As I read it the second time, I started to feel sorry for them and wished that I had been there to do something about it.

They should have terminated the supervisor and done so long before they did.  To have allowed this behavior to have occurred for even a day would have been too much and gave the appearance that they condoned the action of the mailroom supervisor.  Ethically, they took no position that would have given anyone any faith that they could have been taken care of.  If they had given any consideration to utilitarianism, common good, duty-based or even fairness or justice, they would have saved themselves not just a lawsuit, but the tarnish on their reputation.  From a legal perspective, they dug themselves a hole.  There is no way that they could have made any argument about not tolerating that kind of behavior when they clearly did.  The fact that the employee made several complaints with no resolution is proof enough of their culpability in this situation.  In actuality it seems like this would have been a good opportunity to have had a judgment that was much higher, if only to send a message.

Since this case shows that there was no leadership at all, then starting with the basics of effective leadership would be best.  If there had been any mechanism in place to allow for complaints to be routed outside of the chain of command, then this could have been dealt with swiftly and early.  This is why the Inspector General is so important in the military world and why I take such great pride in wearing that badge.  Allowing employees, a path to communicate without the fear of reprisal works two ways.  First, it creates an environment where employees feel as though they will be treated fairly and that their voices will be heard should there be an issue that puts employees in conflict with their supervisors.  Secondly, it holds those that operate in a management capacity to a standard that has been established by the organization.  This means that there are no “rogue warriors” within the organization that believe themselves above the standard.  When the rules apply to all that work for the organization then the trust can start to be built.  If a situation like this still does not exist at New York University, then I would recommend that they research this process and implement it immediately.