Companies Are Discriminating Against Remote Workers: Time-Zone Prejudice

People are being asked to work longer hours and pick up other teams' slack, all because of their time zone. Tyler Le/Insider 

When interviewing for a job at a creative agency based on the West Coast, Jane was assured she could work East Coast hours. But almost immediately after she started the job, the expectations shifted. Jane, whose name has been changed since she still works in the same industry and fears being blacklisted for negative comments, said coworkers expected her to respond to Slack messages in the morning and late at night and she was invited to meetings well after her working hours ended, she told me. “I was expected to be responsive 24/7,” she said.

In the age of remote work, many people have left coastal hubs for more affordable cities across America. This means many more workers are in different time zones from their coworkers, bosses, and companies. And some employees have felt they have been exploited because of their differing time zones, being expected to take on extra work.

Other employees I spoke with said it felt as if working hours had no meaning in the remote world and that they were “on call” more than before, often because of their time-zone difference. While working remotely offers benefits that often weren’t available in a pre-pandemic world, such as living in less busy or less expensive cities, working flexible hours, or getting to wear sweatpants instead of business slacks, the issue of time zones is already causing confusion, miscommunication, and even prejudice against employees working on a different clock.

Unintentional bias

Globally, by one estimate, 16% of companies are now fully remote. And a Gallup survey from late 2021 found that 45% of the US workforce was remote at least some of the time and that most planned to stay that way. A survey from 2022 found that 56% of full-time jobs are “remote capable.” While many jobs have requirements on which states or countries employees can work from, some do not.

Employees and freelancers who are able to have spread out across the US and the globe — creating large time differences between them and the people they work with. But while the coronavirus pandemic created a surge in remote work, it isn’t a pandemic novelty for companies to have a global reach. Businesses have been navigating time zones as long as “telecommuting” has been in the lexicon. While remote is all the rage now, Gallup figures indicate 39% of Americans worked remotely in some capacity in 2012, too.

But the shift in which companies are now offering remote work options provides a clue to why time-zone bias is becoming worse. Previously, most of the businesses that hired international and across states were bigger companies with bigger infrastructure. They are more likely to have software that can handle scheduling, videoconferencing, and accommodating larger groups of people in different time zones.

Smaller companies may not be able to afford scheduling software or dedicated staff members to manage scheduling, leaving the onus of navigating time zones to managers and employees. With a surge in how many people are working remotely and from where, more people than before are navigating large time differences. As with any shift, there is a learning curve.

Some employees I spoke with felt that their companies were just careless and didn’t realize or remember differences in time zones. After a US-based company he worked for was purchased by a company based in Europe, R. Karl Hebenstreit noticed that “all of our team meetings were scheduled around European time zones and holidays, while the US employees and the Asia-based employees were afterthoughts.”

Katrina, whose last name has been withheld so she wouldn’t get in trouble for speaking about her job, is a customer-service associate for a nationwide telecommunications company. She often didn’t have a supervisor at the end of the day because of the time-zone difference. In one case, she said, she was “admonished” for not handling a situation with a customer the same way the supervisor, who wasn’t reachable, would have.

For Hebenstreit, the bias toward a European schedule caused more work to fall on his shoulders. “Meetings were scheduled on and without regard to US holidays (even though we have automatic calendars that inform us of these details),” he told me. “And due to Europe’s more generous vacation, part-time schedule, and holiday schedules, the US employees were expected to pick up the slack for their European counterparts by taking on their clients as well.”

John, who worked for a company in Texas and lives on the West Coast, also had to pick up other teams’ slack because of his time zone. (His name has been changed to avoid retaliation since he still works in the same industry.) Because he was the last to log on for the day, “end-of-day deliverables like coverage reports, rapid commentary, etc. often got handed over to me,” John told me.

Managers are often not trying to exploit; they’re simply not able to remember everyone’s time zones when managing a large team. But often, that unintentional bias can lead to full-on prejudice….Read more….

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Source: Companies Are Discriminating Against Remote Workers: Time-Zone Prejudice

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Supporting a Friend or Family Member with a Mental Illness

It can be scary when someone you love is sick. It can be especially scary if they’re diagnosed with a mental illness. It’s hard to see someone you love in pain and it’s confusing when someone you know well is not acting like themselves.

You know how you would take care of them if they had a cold or flu, but what do you do for a mental illness? Like any other health problem, someone with a mental illness needs extra love and support. You may not be able to see the illness, but it doesn’t mean that you’re powerless to help.

How can I help?

Research confirms that support from family and friends is a key part of helping someone who is going through a mental illness. This support provides a network of practical and emotional help.

These networks can be made up of parents, children, siblings, spouses or partners, extended families, close friends and others who care about us like neighbours, coworkers, coaches and teachers. Some people have larger networks than others, but most of us have at least a few people who are there for us when we need them.

There are a number of major ways that family and friends can help in someone’s journey of recovery from a mental illness:

Knowing when something is wrong—or right: Getting help early is an important part of treating mental illness. Family and friends are often the first ones to notice that something is wrong. See “How do I know when to help?” on the next page for signs to watch for. Finding a treatment that works is often a process of trial and error, so family members may also be the first to see signs of improvement.

How do I do this?

  • TIP: Learn more about the signs and symptoms of different mental illnesses. Also learn more about how treatments work so that you know what side effects you may see, when to look for improvements and which ones to look for first. A recent review found that when the family is educated about the illness, the rates of relapse in their loved ones were reduced by half in the first year.

Seeking help: Families and friends can be important advocates to help loved ones get through those hard, early stages of having a mental illness. They can help their loved one find out what treatment is best for them. They can also be key in letting professionals know what’s going on, filling in parts of the picture that the person who’s ill may not be well enough to describe on their own.

How do I do this?

  • TIP: Offer to make those first appointments with a family doctor to find out what’s wrong or accompany your loved one to the doctor—these steps can be hard if your loved one doesn’t have much energy or experiences problems with concentration. If you do accompany the person, work with them to write down any notes or questions either of you have in advance so that you cover all the major points. If your loved one wants to do it on their own, show them your support and ask them if there’s anything you could do to help.
  • TIP: You can’t always prevent a mental health crisis from happening. If your loved one needs to go to hospital, try and encourage them to go on their own. If you’re concerned that your loved one is at risk of harm, they may receive treatment under BC’s Mental Health Act. It may be necessary in certain cases, but involuntary treatment can be complicated and traumatic for everyone. To learn more about the Mental Health Act, see the “Coping with Mental Health Crises and Emergencies” info sheet.

Helping with medications, appointments and treatments: If you spend a lot of time around your loved ones, you can help them remember to take their medications. You may also be able to help tell a doctor why medications aren’t being taken as they should be. Similarly, you may be involved in reminding your loved one to do their counselling homework or use their light therapy treatment each morning, or reminding your loved one to make or keep appointments for treatment.

How do I do this?

  • TIP: If you notice that your loved one is having trouble taking their medication, you can encourage them to talk to their doctor or pharmacist. They can suggest ways to make pill taking easier. If there are other problems with taking medicine, such as side effects, encourage your loved one to write down their concerns and questions and talk to their doctor. If they don’t have a good relationship with their doctor, help them find a new one. If cost is a barrier, learn about BC’s no-charge psychiatric medication coverage called Plan G.

Supporting a healthy lifestyle: Families can also help with day-to-day factors such as finances, problem solving, housing, nutrition, recreation and exercise, and proper sleeping habits.

How do I do this?

  • TIP: See our Wellness Modules at http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca for practical tips on how to have a healthy lifestyle for both you and your loved one. Case managers and peer support workers at mental health centres in your community may be able to help with life skills training as well as connections to income and housing.

Providing emotional support: You can play an important role in helping someone who’s not feeling well feel less alone and ashamed. They are not to blame for their illness, but they may feel that they are, or may be getting that message from others. You can help encourage hope.

How do I do this?

  • TIP: Try to be as supportive, understanding and patient as possible. See our “Where do I go from here?” section for resources on how to be a good communicator.
  • TIP: Taking care of an ill family member or friend can be stressful. Remember that you need emotional support, too. Consider joining a support group for family members of people with mental illness. There, you can connect with other people going through the same things and they can help you work through your own emotions. It’s very important to make sure you are taking care of your own mental health as well….To be continued

By: Here To Help

Source: Supporting a Friend or Family Member with a Mental Illness | Here to Help

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Big Tech Employees Are TikToking On The Job — and Their Bosses Don’t Always Like It

An illustration of a woman holding her phone up, selfie-style in a conference room while a meeting appears to be happening. Several co-workers are seated at a long table, watching her record a video.Jarett Sitter / The Verge

A day in the life of a 20-something on TikTok who works in tech might look something like this: start the day with free breakfast and a latte. Immediately go out for a multihour lunch break. Return to the office and wander around the spacious, light-filled space, visiting the nap room or the Harry Potter-themed meeting space. “Finish up work.” Then head out at 5PM.

A LinkedIn employee’s workday includes making face masks for “a little self-care moment,” followed by eucalyptus hand towels and kombucha in the office. A Google employee’s day involves scooters, rooftop views, hanging out with a dog, and meeting up with co-workers.

This is the “tech girlie” side of TikTok, where lifestyle vlogging has given rise to a cottage industry of creators who’ve made working in tech — and showing followers the ins and outs of their workday — a key part of their personal brand. The videos often follow a standard format: cheery, upbeat background music plays over quick shots of meeting slides, themed workrooms, and snack drawers.

Viewer comments oscillate between contempt and yearning, with many mockingly pointing out how little work is shown in the videos. But invariably, dozens ask: are you hiring?

Tech employees have racked up millions of views on these glossy aspirational videos. But messy boundaries around filming at work have led to HR warnings and even firings from tech firms that creators say are ill-prepared to navigate the influencer-slash-corporate employee. Corporations, meanwhile, essentially get free promotion — they just have to risk their influencers showing too much or revealing things they may not want the whole world to see.

“Me and my tech creators friends, we all have been flagged before at [our] company to be like, ‘Hey, don’t do that,’” says Chloe Shih. Shih, a YouTuber with over 51,000 followers, says creators must balance crafting their own brand and free expression with demands from their employers that limit what can be shared, either through explicit policies or implicit fears.

What’s allowed and what isn’t isn’t always clear for either side, and companies are “trying to be as stringent as possible” while building out policies and expectations for influencers, according to Shih.

Some companies are more strict than others, forbidding the filming of lobbies, entrances, and security measures like badges. Others bar filming at desks even if the computer screen is blurred — revealing even hints of what you’re working on is off-limits. But creators regularly toe the line in their content, resulting in conversations with HR, co-workers, or managers. Some creators, for example, have shared videos giving tours of offices and workspaces after seeing other creators post similar content, angering security and safety teams.

As Shih has cultivated her own brand of tech industry vlogging, she’s developed tactics to deliver content to followers and keep her employers at least mostly happy. She avoids talking about her compensation, and if she’s currently having trouble at work, she opts instead to discuss it after the fact — as she did in her most viral video, a 14-minute breakdown of all the reasons she quit her job at TikTok.

Shih, who has also worked at Meta, Google, and is now a product manager at Discord, has made videos like “What’s the Discord HQ like? // office tour + meet the team!” and “First Week at Discord as a Product Manager” (the latter sponsored by HelloFresh).

Discord employees who are also creators and influencers are expected to “uphold their responsibilities as shareholders and to each other,” says Lucy Anthony, senior counsel for employment at the company.

“Our policies support personal expression while also protecting the company’s confidential information and our employees,” Anthony says. “If employees speak about or on behalf of Discord externally, it must be in accordance with these policies.”

Anthony didn’t expand on what specific policies Discord has for creators. I think all tech creators do their best to respect their company, because that’s number one, they can’t get fired,” Shih says. For many, that means content ends up not actually reflecting a real workday; one creator who occasionally makes videos about their work at Google says they mostly film the food at their job because showing their actual work isn’t permitted.

“I’ve gotten backlash for filming too much food content and people questioning how much I work,” the employee, who requested anonymity to speak freely about their company, told The Verge in an email. “But in actuality, I just can’t show much of my real work!”

But tech workers who aren’t hypervigilant — even at smaller companies — have found themselves out of a job.

Michelle Serna, who goes by @brokeasshorsegirl on TikTok, makes off-the-cuff, unedited videos including documenting her life running a horse ranch and holding down a full-time job. Serna, who worked at health tech company Visionable, was careful to never disclose the name of her employer on TikTok, instead speaking about her unconventional path in the industry and her experience being a remote employee making a good salary.

In August, Serna uploaded a short video to TikTok showing coffee she had spilled early on a Monday morning. Serna says she didn’t realize until later that a company meeting can be faintly heard happening on her computer in the other room (the video has since been deleted). The video didn’t catch on like her others — Serna says it had only a few thousand views — but the next day, she was fired for negligence.

“When I tell you that I was truly shocked that I was fired, I was so shocked because I never was reprimanded for anything,” Serna says. “I was never spoken to about my content creation. I was never spoken to about my performance at work.” Visionable did not respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

Unlike other creators, Serna says she was never warned about her TikTok presence, which can be profanity-laden and straightforward and is part of her appeal. Visionable had even featured Serna in a marketing video sharing her post-work routine on her ranch, and Serna said the company had celebrated her TikTok presence internally, which grew rapidly this year to over 150,000.

While creators build followings from their tech jobs, the companies that employ them also benefit. When Serna shared the news of her firing on TikTok in September, followers were largely supportive. And though she admitted recording the video was a mistake, Serna says companies like her past employer aren’t equipped to navigate having employees with substantial internet followings. Serna says a few other creators working in tech contacted her after she went public about her firing, saying they were scared about how their companies might react to their content.

While creators build followings from their tech jobs, the companies that employ them also benefit from the viral videos showing happy, well-paid employees extolling the benefits of their jobs. An account strategist at Google praises the company for bringing rescue dogs, saying it gave them “an instant boost of serotonin.” A TikTok sponsored by LinkedIn follows a different Google employee from the office to an influencer event, with the creator expressing her gratitude for having “two dream jobs.”

Though Serna didn’t directly say the name of her former employer in TikToks, the information was easily searchable, she says, and followers regularly asked if her company was hiring.

“I’m like, ‘You wanted me for your good press.’ Because if you think about it, I am good press,” Serna says. “I come from a nontraditional background, I don’t have a college degree, I’m a young woman, I have a disability, I’m a remote employee making a lot of money.”

The proliferation of content that exclusively highlights luxurious perks and apparent light workloads can also obscure the reality of working a 9 to 5. Some people will purposely choose to film days when something interesting is happening, Shih says. Other creators are so busy during their actual workday that they’ll put on the same outfit on the weekend to record themselves pretending to work. The highly curated fluff content also doesn’t show that the seemingly generous office offerings can in fact have the opposite effect.

“Look at the Google campus, look at the Facebook campus, look at the LinkedIn campus — they don’t make their campuses that way because they love their employees,” Serna says. “They make it that way so that they can keep you there.”

Google didn’t respond to a request for comment. LinkedIn, meanwhile, has “clear internal policies that apply to all employees,” according to spokesperson Leonna Spilman, though Spilman didn’t outline what those policies are. “We make them available so everyone at LinkedIn can follow them, including when they choose to share their experiences in communities they care about,” Spilman says.

Still, the “tech girlie” genre of content can serve a purpose, especially for women, people of color, and other traditionally underrepresented groups in the industry who hope to land a job.

Nylah Boone, a TikTok creator who considers herself a micro-influencer, sprinkles in workday content with other unrelated vlogs, like travel videos, Trader Joe’s hauls, and follower Q&As. In April, while working as a contractor at Apple, Boone posted a video of her first day working from the Apple office, showing her morning routine and commute along with snippets of the building, an in-office pastry bar, and lunch with co-workers. The video, titled “Day in the life of a Black girl working in tech,” has amassed nearly 400,000 views, with hundreds of comments asking Boone for career advice and questions about her job and daily routine.

“My followers or people that would reach out to me or comment were like 80 percent Black women,” Boone says. “That was important to me to be able to connect with other Black women as well to encourage them, ‘You can work in this industry or work in this role.’”

Shih, too, says she’s motivated to make content about her job to give others like her free career resources. After receiving an influx of pleas for advice, Shih set up a Discord server for tech professionals and hopefuls to meet and connect. Making videos like the one outlining why she quit TikTok is her way of being honest and transparent with followers, she says.

“I kind of did everything by trial by fire,” Shih says of getting her start in tech. “And if I could go back and tell myself to do stuff, it would have changed my outcome so dramatically.”

In May, Boone unexpectedly lost her job at Apple when her contract wasn’t renewed. She made videos about that, too — a trio of clips documenting her job loss has so far gotten around 150,000 views.

Boone has since moved on to a job at a marketing agency, where she’s able to continue making videos for TikTok while working. But she says tech influencers are an important way that companies are able to get in front of potential applicants, especially people who might not otherwise look for a job in the sector.

“Imagine if there were no POC creators or Black women creating the content about their jobs in tech. There are so many people on [TikTok]… like middle school, high school [girls],” Boone says. “If they have no exposure to it, they’re not going to know that there are other options out there for them.”

By Mia Sato

Source: Big Tech employees are TikToking on the job — and their bosses don’t always like it – The Verge

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How to Fix The Minority STEM Crisis

Scientist using microscope in laboratory. (Photo by: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via AP Images)

Boasting a stellar academic record, a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and an MBA, Carla landed a plum job at one of the nation’s leading computer and information technology companies. She was excited to join the tech world and contribute to the Texas-based company where she hoped to make her career.

Carla’s excitement didn’t last. A Black woman, she felt overlooked and excluded from opportunities to advance. She found herself fighting for her annual raise. “I honestly felt,” she said, “like it was because I was a woman. I had probably one other woman on my team at various times, and it just seemed like the men weren’t having the same problems we were having …

I felt like at some point they weren’t listening to me.” After being asked to clean out the office of a colleague who had left the firm, she came across one of his old pay stubs. She discovered that he’d been making four times her salary despite having just one more year of experience. She abandoned her dream of working in technology and now works as a human resources officer for a law firm.

Carla’s story is one of 25 qualitative interviews at the core of a new report, STEM Voices: The Experiences of Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Occupations, published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). (Subjects spoke to us on condition of anonymity.) Carla’s account—and others—echoes many of the themes discovered in an earlier AEI survey of STEM worker perspectives, which identified sharp differences in perception about workplace environment, support, and opportunities.

In that survey, conducted in 2020, white and Asian men saw the workplace as collaborative, open, and friendly and believed that women and minorities experienced their jobs in similar ways. Female and minority respondents said quite the opposite: They felt overlooked, not included as teammates, and cut off from the kind of coworker support their white and Asian male coworkers said they enjoyed. The survey data showed two almost entirely different worlds.

For STEM Voices, we tracked down 21 participants from the 2020 survey to paint a clearer picture of the people behind the survey data (interviews with a handful of other STEM professionals supplemented this research).

Our findings help explain why diversity remains elusive in STEM: Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI) can get workers to the foot of the ladder, but they don’t help them climb.

Despite myriad recruitment programs and initiatives to boost the number of women and minorities pursuing science and tech careers, women make up just 34 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the National Science Foundation. At the same time, Black and Hispanic Americans are underrepresented, especially among workers with a bachelor’s degree or more.To be clear, the problems for women and minorities in STEM start well before employment and even before graduation from post-secondary institutions.

One reason for these failures is a faulty “pipeline” of female and minority students into STEM. Blacks and Hispanics, for instance, are less likely to attend college, major in STEM, or complete a degree than whites. In 2017–19, Black and Hispanic students earned just 7 percent and 12 percent of STEM bachelor’s degrees, respectively, according to the Pew Research Center, though they collectively represent 31 percent of the U.S. population. But as Stem Voices reveals, the pipeline isn’t the only problem. Our interviews delved deeply into workers’ personal and career trajectories to understand their experiences and the challenges they faced on the job.

Over and over, female and minority workers recalled confronting barriers to success, including social isolation, lack of mentors, and outright discrimination. Though STEM careers might be among the most lucrative and in demand in today’s economy, many of the female and minority workers we interviewed did not believe that those opportunities were available to them.Many said they felt shut out from opportunities for advancement and lamented the lack of supervisors and mentors who looked like them.

As the computer instructor Michelle P. told us, “I never had a female manager. Ever.” A majority of women and workers of color interviewed also said they had experienced some sort of stereotyping, discrimination, or bias because of their race or gender. Out of 19 female and nonwhite interviewees, only two said they had never personally experienced discrimination or disparate treatment.

Many reported hurtful comments based on stereotypes about their intelligence or capabilities, which affected their morale, performance, and perceptions about their field. Others said they were passed over for promotions and other opportunities. John D., a Black computer programmer, said he overheard colleagues at his firm say they “had to overlook qualified white people to hire unqualified Black people.”

Tiffany C., an Asian doctoral student, said she was labeled as “difficult to work with” at the engineering design firm in Austin, Texas, where she worked before returning to graduate school. Carla A., the engineer, was told she needed “to smile more.” Another interviewee said one of her supervisors micromanaged her work but not those of lesser-qualified whites. “There is some sort of preconceived notion that Black people don’t do well in sciences,” J.S., who holds a doctorate in veterinary science and works for the federal government, said.

Many interviewees said they confronted unwelcoming office cultures and that they struggled to fit in. Women with children said balancing work and family obligations was a particular challenge, while other women said they kept to themselves to avoid sexual harassment. “One of the things … I kind of learned early on, too … was to really make clear that … I was happily married and not looking for anything,” said the IT instructor Michelle P. David B., a Black engineer, said he felt the need to seem unthreatening to white colleagues and bosses at the naval shipyard where he worked.

“I had to downplay the fact that I went to a good engineering school,” he told us. “As a matter of fact, I had to downplay that I even had an engineering degree, and I was going for a master’s degree.” Compounding these issues are the vastly different perceptions alluded to above, held by white workers in STEM. According to our July 2020 survey of STEM degree holders, more than 50 percent of women and nonwhite STEM workers said they believe that women and minorities encounter more obstacles in STEM than in other industries.

AEI’s 2020 survey also found, however, that many white workers don’t agree that their female and minority colleagues face difficulties in advancement, which perhaps presents the thorniest challenge to improving diversity in STEM. To these white workers, there is no problem to fix. Just 26 percent of whites in AEI’s previous survey, for instance, thought Black workers face more obstacles in STEM than in other fields compared to 51 percent of nonwhite workers.

While only 34 percent of men said women face more hurdles to advancement, 54 percent of women said they did. The white men we interviewed for STEM Voices also reflected these sentiments. “I didn’t see people, females, and the few minorities that were there held back,” said the retired chemist Jack H., who spent his career in the Army and is white. “If you have the ability and the drive, people will see that.” Moreover, some interviewees, such as the wildlife biologist Todd B., said they believed that concerns about racism and sexism are overblown.

“When you have a fire and you let the fire burn down to nothing but an ember, when you start blowing on that ember, it’s going to break out into a flame again,” he said. “My opinion is if we stopped focusing on all the racism … if we just let it die down, it would eventually go away.” This chasm in perceptions between white male workers on the one hand and their female and minority colleagues on the other means that STEM’s diversity crisis defies an easy fix. Culture, moreover, is notoriously difficult to change through policy.

This is something of a tautology: One of the best ways to solve the STEM diversity problem is simply to increase the number of women and minorities in the sector. To do that, we need complementary strategies that boost the numbers of women and minorities in the STEM pipeline and “stop-loss” efforts focused on retaining those already in the field who can strengthen diversity and inclusion efforts on the job and provide more mentors for those in the pipeline.

Historically black colleges and universities play a crucial role in building the pipeline. Many of the interviewees in STEM Voices, for instance, attended an HBCU, where they had mentors, felt challenged in their courses, and belonged to a community. These foundational experiences, interviewees said, instilled the confidence and self-reliance they’ve needed to survive in challenging work environments.

One obvious step, therefore, is to increase investment in HBCUs, which produce a disproportionate share of the nation’s Black STEM graduates. Nearly half of the Black women who earned degrees in STEM between 1995 and 2004 graduated from an HBCU. Although the American Rescue Plan granted HBCUs a historic $2.7 billion, this much-needed infusion didn’t reverse decades of chronic underfunding.

Another pipeline strategy is to dramatically increase the number of Black and Hispanic K–12 teachers in STEM. Just 6 percent of K–12 STEM teachers in 2012 were Black, and only 6 percent were Hispanic, according to research by Tuan Nguyen of Kansas State University and Christopher Redding of the University of Florida. Increasing the number of minority teachers in STEM would provide more minority students with the role models and mentors that many of our interviewees said were critical to their decision to major in STEM fields in college.

Expanding internships and early work experience would also allow minority students to develop mentors and professional networks for future guidance and support. The retention challenge is rooted more in culture than in formal education and is, therefore, harder to address. The answer is not, however, more “diversity training.” As Frank Dobbin of Harvard University and Alexandra Kalev of Tel Aviv University write, these efforts can backfire because “anti-bias messaging tends to provoke resistance in white men who feel unjustly accused of discrimination or worry that their employers’ commitment to equity threatens their careers.”

Most of the disadvantage women and minorities experience is subconscious and unintentional, rather than overtly racist or sexist. This accounts for the wildly different interpretations of working conditions and opportunities we discovered in the survey and STEM Voices. Everyone understands the awkwardness and discomfort of being outnumbered in a social setting. Alerting managers and employees to “go the extra mile” to ensure that women and minorities are integrated into day-to-day work will do much to break down barriers.

As Dobbin and Kalev suggest, managing diversity should not be “relegated” to women and workers of color but be part of every manager’s job description. Over time, structural investments and human resource efforts like these will produce the numbers of women and minority professionals necessary to shift the culture of STEM for the better. In the interim, those in positions of authority and advantage in the workplace need to redouble their efforts to build resilient workers who can succeed despite the odds against them.

Source: How to Fix The Minority STEM Crisis | Washington Monthly

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How Do I Teach Workplace Communication Skills to My High School Students?

In the modern workplace, communication can make or break a career. High school students who develop strong communication skills early go on to nail that interview, negotiate that pay raise, or make a great case for that promotion. However, those who fail to communicate effectively often end up getting passed over–no matter how smart or skilled they are.

As an instructor, you want to ensure your kids have the best chance at success in their careers, and communication is a key element in that. But communication can be tricky to learn. What are these workplace communication skills, and where do you begin when teaching them in your career readiness course?

Many high school teachers have approached AES asking these questions, and in response, we’ve developed a list of the different types of communication your kids will encounter every day in the workplace.

In this article, you’ll discover a breakdown of the three different kinds of workplace communication and how you can teach them in a high school setting:

  • Verbal Communication
  • Non-Verbal Communication
  • Email Communication

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better sense of each of these three workplace communication skills and how you can teach them to your students.

Workplace Communication Skills Breakdown: Verbal, Non-Verbal, & Email

Traditionally, workplace communication is made of verbal and non-verbal communication. However, with the rise of technology, email has also taken a central role in workplace communication, and will be one of the primary methods your high schoolers use to collaborate with coworkers day-to-day.

What Is Verbal Communication?

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Verbal communication is any conversation that takes place vocally.

While that primarily means face-to-face discussions, it could also include phone calls, video conferences, voicemails, and voice messaging.

The most important advantage of verbal communication is that speakers can use tone of voice to help convey the context of what they’re saying.

That context could be anything from sincerity to sarcasm — but either way, it’s a major benefit that verbal communication has over non-verbal.

On the other hand, verbal communication is almost always temporary, which means it’s the responsibility of the listener and speaker to remember the discussion without any aid.

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This isn’t true for voicemails or voice messaging, but it does apply to phone calls, video conferencing, and face-to-face conversations.

Because the latter three situations occur much more frequently than voicemails and voice messaging, it’s important to note that two people may have different interpretations of how a conversation actually goes.

These different interpretations — whether they’re accurate or not — can vary from mild misunderstandings to major miscommunications.

After all, with no central source of truth (like a written document or recording), any disagreements over a verbal conversation are up in the air when it comes to determining what was actually said and intended.

Fortunately, verbal communication isn’t the only method of conversing in a business setting.

In fact, non-verbal communication is becoming the preferred conversation and planning format for many companies, especially those involved in cutting-edge technology.

What Is Non-Verbal Communication?

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Non-verbal communication is any form of discussion in which vocal tone doesn’t play a part. 

This includes several forms of communication, like instant messaging, text messaging, note-writing, social media posts, letters, data analysis, and even email–though email is special for a few reasons.

Oftentimes, non-verbal communication entails some form of writing, which gives it one major advantage over any other form of conversation: documentation.

Documentation provides that central source of truth for what someone said, when they said it, and how they said it. This helps provide a strong sense of clarity and can resolve conflicts much more effectively than verbal communication.

However, it’s important to note that non-verbal communication entails more than just writing. It also includes crucial social cues like eye contact, body language, gestures, and even physical touch! As a result, you have a lot more areas of opportunity when it comes to non-verbal communication.

Take social cues, for instance. These non-verbal gestures and visual accents help to complement verbal communication. After all, combining the right words and gestures at the right time can make all the difference between appearing selfish or helpful!

Context is everything in this case — and social cues help establish that context when used in conjunction with speech.

Still, there’s one form of specific non-verbal communication that merits more of a breakdown, and it’s become the single most important communication method in the working world: email.

What Is Email Communication?

workplace-communication-email

It’s strange to think that email was once considered a quaint or informal way of conducting business. After all, these days you’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t use it as a central pillar of their operations.

The bottom line is that email is one of the most-used communication methods for companies today. Using it, you can direct projects, hold discussions, make decisions, and grow a business to new heights!

This is why it’s so important for students to know about email, how it works, and why it requires professional etiquette.

After all, emails are responsible for individuals taking action in a company. They’re the best way to make sure people stay in the loop on different ideas and projects.

With the right email, someone can open themselves up to new opportunities that they never knew were possible. With the wrong email, they could truncate their career and end up looking for another job.

Email is taken seriously in the business world. It’s significantly different from text messaging, instant messaging, note-writing, and chat.

If a student goes into a job with the expectation that they can treat email like a messaging service, they’re starting off on a bad foot. To get them on the best start possible, it’s crucial that today’s educators teach email communication skills.

But that’s easier said than done, right? In fact, all of these communication skills can be tricky to teach. So how do you actually teach communication skills to high schoolers in the best way you can?

How to Teach Workplace Communication Skills

workplace-communication-teach

When it comes to teaching workplace communication skills to high schoolers, you’ll find a lot of variety in terms of approach and methodology.

That’s because what workplace communication actually entails — like many soft skills — isn’t set in stone. Many states in the US have completely different standards when it comes to communication education in general.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t great teaching strategies out there.

On the rest of this page, we’ll take an in-depth look into some of the most popular and successful online resources for teaching workplace communication skills in high school. These resources provide excellent guidelines to help you think about how you’ll teach these skills.

How Do I Teach Verbal Communication Skills?

workplace-communication-teach-verbal

The Global Digital Citizen Foundation (GDCF) is an organization dedicated to helping modern students learn in the ways that are best for them. When it comes to developing new teaching strategies, they’re always making new strides in terms of experimentation and tracking results.

GDCF has a brief–yet effective–suggestion for how to teach verbal communication to students of any age: have them watch videos that demonstrate conversational skills.

For the videos themselves, you can use clips from popular movies that your high schoolers know, like The Avengers, or even popular YouTubers who work in groups, like The Slo Mo Guys. This may help engage them further by making each lesson focus on characters or people that your students love to watch.

Regardless of what you choose to show, the goal is always the same. You want your students to demonstrate that they’re aware of what conversations look like along with positive communication traits and negative communication traits.

During the videos, you have students take notes that:

  • Summarize/paraphrase the dynamic between the speakers
  • Pull direct quotes from the conversation
  • Mark interesting responses or replies
  • Delve into the vocal tone of each speaker and how it affects the conversation

After the video is over and the students are done taking notes, you can ask them questions about key parts of the conversation: Why did the vocal tone of one speaker change at a certain point? How did the other speaker reply? How did it impact the conversation as a whole?

Asking these kinds of questions helps students engage with verbal communication in a way that’s relatable and fun — especially when compared to learning from a textbook.

How Do I Teach Non-Verbal Communication Skills?

workplace-communication-teach-nonverbal

Non-verbal communication skills are just as important as their verbal counterparts, and it’s essential you use the best resources available to teach them to your high schoolers.

Upbility, an education thought leader on speech therapy, offers several suggestions to help you get started with teaching social cues.

One of the most direct ways they recommend is through simple roleplaying. This is where you create conversational scenarios in which one student says something, another replies, and the rest of the class takes notes on what they observe.

For this roleplay scenario, it’s key that you highlight the subtle areas where social cues add emphasis to a conversation. These areas include:

  • Facial expressions
  • Body language
  • Gesturing
  • Eye contact
  • Personal touch
  • Personal space
  • Physical appearance

Have your students take notes, and after each exercise, you can ask the participants and observers to discuss what happened, why they interpreted a conversation a certain way, and how that interpretation could’ve changed based on non-verbal factors.

As for written communication, your options are surprisingly more limited than when dealing with social cues.

That’s because “writing skills” are an enormous category that includes career readiness, creative thinking, problem solving, and more.

However, there is an excellent resource provided by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which is a branch of the US Department of Education. This thorough guide offered by IES details every step you can take to teach writing skills to teens and adolescents–perfect for high schoolers.

We recommend downloading the guide yourself (it’s free) and following its information as closely as you can. There’s a lot of good information in there!

How Do I Teach Email Communication Skills?

workplace-communication-teach-email

Email–simply put–is one of the most powerful and convenient tools for modern communication. That’s why it’s essential that high school students learn how to write emails effectively and intelligently before they enter the workforce.

This includes understanding the principles of business writing in general, like common questions and implied tone. It also requires students to practice writing emails of their own — especially emails that they send in response to others.

However, this is all easier said than done, and these concepts include a lot more information than they may seem at first.

But when you approach email communication with an effective teaching strategy–like the Four Phases– you can take that complicated topic and make it understandable for students of any age.

One way to get your high schoolers thinking is to include an activity in which they need to decide if an email is formal or informal. This takes some prep up front, but it’s a great way to mix up your lesson.

Write 5-8 examples of both formal and informal emails and distribute them to your students. Pick students to read each email aloud, and then ask the class if they think it is formal or informal and why they believe so.

Depending how the activity goes, you may be able to start a class debate or discussion about which emails are appropriate for which setting.

Once you’re done with that part of the activity, have each of your students compose both a formal and informal email using school email accounts. This will be a great way to give them hands-on practice with effective email.

Need More Lesson Plans to Help You Teach Communication Skills?

Workplace communication skills are essential for your high schoolers to learn. After all, soon enough they’ll be joining the workforce full time, and if they find they can’t communicate in a professional setting, they could end up falling behind–or worse.

In this article, you’ve learned about the three main methods of workplace communication and strategies you can use to teach them in your high school course. If you use these strategies well, you’ll be providing your kids a solid foundation for effective communication.

However, these activities and strategies are just the beginning when it comes to teaching these skills to your students. If you need even more material to teach your students workplace collaboration and communication, check out the Business Communication module in our catalog.

Within this module, you’ll receive valuable lesson plans, assignments, eLearning material, and engaging exercises that will turn your high schoolers into professional communicators.

By: Chris Zook

Chris Zook is a contributing author to the AES blog. He enjoys everything about online marketing, data science, user experience, and corgis.

Source: How Do I Teach Workplace Communication Skills to My High School Students?

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