Sunday, February 14, 2016

#OscarsSoWhite & What it Means to Your Small Business

#OscarsSoWhite & #SmallBusiness

The 88th Academy Awards are set to air on Sunday, February 28th. This is the time the Academy focuses on excellence in film.  
Categories ranging from Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress, and even contributions on costume design, cinematography, and music are honored.

This should be a night to celebrate the truly stellar achievements in the film industry.

But once again, controversy abounds.

For the second straight year, every one of the 20 acting nominees is white.  This means that, according to Academy voting members, not one role filled by anyone other than a Caucasian actor was considered Oscar worthy.

Despite the strong performances in the movies Selma (a biopic on the late Martin Luther King, Jr.) and in Straight Outta Compton, the only nominations they received were for Best Picture (Selma) and for Best Original Screenplay (Compton ~ and the writers are White).  Also snubbed were the actors in Creed and Beasts of No Nation, both centering on African-American characters.

Not surprisingly, when this year’s nominations were released, there was an immediate uproar.  People of all races joined in calling out the Academy for their apparent discrimination.  Some even going as far as promising to boycott this year’s award show.

Even the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which circulated after last year’s nominations, is once again being used.  A veritable social media storm has since commenced.


Blame is being placed squarely on the Academy.  Their lack of action after the controversy hit in 2015 has many frustrated and calling for action.  

Academy President, Cheryl Isaacs, who herself is African-American, has vowed changes.  She plans to implement updated membership / voting rules and other measures designed to add more diversity to the Academy by increasing women and diverse voting members.

Her stated goal is to lead the Academy forward and make an difference in the film industry.

Small Business can learn a lot from this.

Small Business can learn from the #OscarsSoWhite Controversy “Tweet This”

As a Small Business, you must learn to be Proactive instead of Reactive, especially when it comes to disparate treatment and hiring.

If there is the smallest sign that your company may discriminate in its employment practices, then it is crucial you act.    

Hiring policies that show or even suggest employment discrimination against protected groups can result in consequences for your Small Business.

Much like the uproar over the Oscar nominations, the mere perception of bias or disparate impact is cause for alarm.  Any small business whose ongoing hiring policies are similarly discriminatory should take note.   

Charges of disparate treatment and disparate impact are being filed by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and by individuals.  And fighting these lawsuits will cost you time and money.  

It always makes sound business sense to do what you can before getting noticed by the EEOC or being the subject of a lawsuit.  That means being proactive.  

Find out more in “Tips to Help Your Small Business Fly Under the EEOC Radar”!

So What Should You Do?  Act Now!

You need to start by reviewing all your hiring policies.  Make sure there is nothing in your procedures that would impact your hiring of someone in a protected class (race, sex, religion, etc.).

Take a look at your existing workforce.  Have you fairly hired, retained, and promoted the most qualified?

If you see any inconsistencies during your review, then it is time to revamp your procedures and make the necessary changes.  And the key is to do this long before you are faced with any serious issues.  

Take note of the backlash against the Academy and don’t find your Small Business noticed for all the wrong reasons.  Being proactive long before the first sign of a disparate impact problem is simply good business.

Please leave a comment.  I would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!

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