Joseph Biden was officially inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States on January 20th, 2021.
Most Americans felt this would be the beginning of a calmer, less chaotic period of time. 2020 was filled with stress from the Presidential election negativity and daily updates on COVID deaths. There was significant “Trump fatigue”, with even Trump supporters dreading what he would tweet or say. Trump refused to concede his election loss and that decision led sadly to the riot at the Capitol January 6th.
Unfortunately, peace did not return on January 20th. Many people still have doubts about the accuracy of the last election (even if they are happy Trump lost) and COVID continues to kill 4,000 Americans every day, even with the introduction of 2 vaccines.
Democrats control the House and Senate along with the White House. Rather than focus on growing the economy, reducing unemployment and increasing vaccine distribution, President Biden and his party have chosen to focus on impeaching Trump and a host of social equity issues primarily based on correcting structural racism. For Republicans and Independents, this seems like a continuation of the civil war that has been raging between Republicans and Democrats since Trump was elected in 2016.
Foreign nationals working in the U.S. and those who may be transferred here over the next 4 years should be aware of the difference between the terms “equality” and “equity”. Equality is a concept that requires companies to provide all Americans regardless of race, age, gender or religion to have equal opportunities. In the case of hiring, companies must use a diverse interviewing process to attract people from all backgrounds. Companies can then select the most qualified candidate.
“Equity” refers to specific outcomes. That means that it is not enough for companies to provide equal opportunities for diverse candidates. Companies must now confirm that candidates chosen for jobs represent a diverse population, regardless of each person’s individual qualifications. The goal now is equity of result, not equality of opportunity.
Equity can be challenged or criticized at any time. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can be used by employees or employee groups to attack companies they feel don’t provide the proper “equity” for diverse groups. Hiring companies must always be ready to defend their hiring decisions and cope with public relations problems whenever a diversity candidate feels they have been treated unfairly.
Companies will also feel pressure from 2 other major issues -
mandatory COVID vaccination policies and union representation.
Many companies have already implemented mandatory vaccination policies for employees returning to offices or who visit customers. These policies will be challenged by the courts and unions. For example, teachers in major cities are strongly opposed to mandatory vaccinations and a return to in-person teaching. This will be a major hurdle for companies when they ask employees to return to offices.
Most unions supported President Biden so it is no surprise that Democrats plan to give them more power to organize. It was surprising, however, when President Biden fired the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. His term was due to end in August, 2021 and is very powerful since the General Counsel determines what cases the Board will review. This move suggests much more government support to unions and organizing campaigns.
This suggests much more government support to union organizing, even in high tech companies like Google. Unions are also targeting companies like Amazon, who ironically supported Biden. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, recently was quoted as being against unionization and particularly the union’s desire to have an NLRB representation election conducted by mail. These elections are usually conducted in person under secret ballot, so mail ballots could really help unions organized more effectively. It is far easier to “harvest” ballots from employees than to predict how employees vote privately when elections are held on company facilities.
Unfortunately it is very unlikely politicians will unite this year. The challenge to balance company demands with employee rights, particularly with “equity” demands, will make it more difficult than ever for companies to adapt to changing talent needs.