Recent Laws That We’re Thankful For

It’s almost Thanksgiving and we’re looking back at some of the game-changing laws that passed recently and for which we’re thankful. We’re not biased, but our home state of California blazed a trail in changing the game and raising the bar for improved, healthier workplaces. Whether improving corporate governance by mandating that public companies diversify and include at least two women directors, or educating all employees on harassment do’s and dont’s or insisting that Silicon Valley tech companies get serious about consumer privacy rights — we’ve made great progress this year towards changing the nature of our workplace and how we do business. We’re still continuing to evolve, but at Emtrain, we thankful to see businesses moving in the right direction!

California – Women on Boards

In 2018, Women on Boards (SB 826) was signed into law to advance equitable gender representation on California corporate boards. California is now leading the way as the first state in the nation to require all publicly-held domestic or foreign corporations whose principal executive offices are located in California to have at least one female director on their boards by December 31, 2019, either by filling an open seat or by adding a seat. One or two more women directors would be required, depending upon the size of the public company’s board by December 31, 2021.

California is paving the way to bring diverse perspectives at the board level. As a female-led organization, we’re thrilled to be part of a society that will (finally) make it mandatory to have women on boards. You need more perspectives from people with different experiences, backgrounds, and genders to address blind spots and make better, more informed decisions.

What does this mean for future women leaders and the future of our workforce? Well, more women on boards means more powerful peer networks where women leaders get recruited into the C-Suite by their peers who are now on boards. And more women in the C-Suite means business decisions reflecting more perspectives and experiences and less blind spots, to the benefit of the workforce and the communities in which the business operates.

New York and California – Mandatory Anti-Harassment Training for All

In response to the #MeToo movement, California (SB 1343), the New York City Council and New York State (Local Law 96) have passed laws requiring New York employers to train all employees every year in an effort to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.

Managers only report harassment 11% of the time, according to Emtrain’s soon to be released 2020 Culture Report. Employees need access to information about their rights and ways to stop harassment, instead of waiting for a manager or HR to help address the situation. All of us want a workplace where we’re respected for our contributions and we can bring our best self to work. Disrespect and harassment make that an unreasonable expectation. With less than 50% of employees recognizing harassment behaviors when they see them (from the not yet released 2020 Culture Report), harassment training and education laws are more vital than ever. This is a more nuanced, complicated topic than many people realize and it’s exacerbated by changing social norms where different generations view behavior differently. For example, one person’s understanding of “harassment” is different than another person’s understanding.

By forcing organizations to invest more time and resources into this activity, business leaders will increasingly expect an ROI which will minimize check the box programs and generally, raise the bar on program quality throughout the market. New York and California have definitely set a trend as it influenced the State of Illinois to pass a similar training mandate. These harassment training mandates may influence other states to follow with similar legislation, which will start to raise the standard for employee education of their rights and responsibilities.

California Consumer Privacy Act

“Beginning January 1, 2020, the [AB 375] bill would grant a consumer a right to request a business to disclose the categories and specific pieces of personal information that it collects about the consumer, the categories of sources from which that information is collected, the business purposes for collecting or selling the information, and the categories of 3rd parties with which the information is shared.” The CCPA also provides consumers the right to delete their personal information held by a business and the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information to a 3rd party. More information can be found here.

The CCPA is set to go into effect in January 2020 and will have significant ramifications on the Internet economy where many tech businesses generate revenue through advertising and selling the personal information of their users or consumers. These businesses will need to modify their processes to inform consumers of what personal information they’re collecting and who they’re selling it to and allow consumers the chance to opt-out.

The CCPA takes a broader view of personal information than the GDPR (European Privacy Act) and will likely require more compliance programs and efforts — particularly because any California attorney can sue for an alleged violation. Despite the cost and resources required to implement, the CCPA is still a move in the right direction to curb the excesses of the free-wheeling internet businesses who make money by selling the personal information of its users, without notice or consent.

Diversifying boards of directors, educating all employees about harassment do’s and don’ts and protecting our personal information from monetization are all steps in the right direction towards changing the nature of our workplaces and how we do business — something to be thankful for.

For workplace culture tips and to stay up to date on the latest HR and Compliance trends, follow Emtrain on LinkedIn. And tune in to our live show, Always Learning, held every other Tuesday at 10:30am PST on LinkedIn.

data privacydiversity and inclusionsexual harassment trainingWorkplace Culture
Janine Yancey
Business Compliance & Workplace Culture Expert
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