Most Important Developments for 6/12

Many leaders are thinking broadly about how to meet the return-to-work challenge. Unlike other crises, such as 9/11 or the Great Recession in 2008, COVID’s crucible is the fight against an invisible and insidious enemy, a pathogen that promises to wax and wane for an indeterminate time. Furthermore, its unsettlingly long incubation period may render even the most rigorous workplace prevention efforts ineffective. All this makes all of us anxious. It can be immensely helpful to know that the anxious brain is reasonably well understood. We know, for example, that when anxious we are readily distracted by the wrong things, which means we can prepare for them and try to overcome our instincts. Surprisingly, it’s often counterintuitive strategies that are most effective. To beat anxiety, the scientific evidence tells us to pay attention to what we instinctively want to do and then actively consider the opposite. HBR

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White female founders spent the weekend apologizing for their behavior — some of it racist — as the social movements that have taken over American streets extended to Instagram. The highest-profile reckoning came at Reformation, the popular women’s clothing brand known for its commitment to environmental sustainability. A former general manager, Elle Santiago, posted about being “overlooked and undervalued as a woman of color,” quickly prompting others to share more specific allegations about the behavior of Reformation’s founder, Yael Aflalo. Aflalo responded with an Instagram post that she had “failed” in “treating people equally … especially the black community.” The common thread among these upheavals — reminiscent in their speed and quantity of the early days of the #MeToo movement — is not just the allegations of racism but outrage over a sense of hypocrisy felt by former employees. When those same brands started posting more directly in support of the Black Lives Matter movement over the past two weeks, their engagement with the cause led many who had had experiences that didn’t align with that stated commitment to come forward. Fortune

0612 Blog OT2

A number of outlets have reported that social media use has significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many are quarantined at home with time to kill. Meanwhile, just as social media use has spiked, the circumstances of George Floyd’s death have led to daily protests throughout the nation. In the midst of this perfect storm — as Americans take to their smartphones, tablets, and laptops to argue their views on complex societal concerns, a tricky issue has presented itself to employers — what to do if an employee posts racist or other objectionable content on his or her social media feed? There are several issues at play with this quandary. First and foremost, as we have previously reported, in contrast to public-sector workplaces, private employers are not bound by the First Amendment’s right to free speech. Public-sector employers have to tread more cautiously in dealing with employee expression issues. Nevertheless, as a best practice, employers should limit disciplinary action, including termination, for online conduct to scenarios in which the conduct violates the employer’s articulated policies. To that end, employers should ensure that the company’s anti-harassment policy specifically applies to online conduct, including postings on social media. Likewise, in this day and age, all companies should have social media policies that incorporate the company’s anti-harassment policy. If your company has a code of conduct, online conduct should be addressed there as well. National Law Review

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The editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit, Adam Rapoport, has stepped down after an undated photograph of him dressed in a racially insensitive costume added to accusations of discrimination and lack of inclusiveness at the magazine. The photograph, posted on social media, shows Rapoport and his wife, Simone Shubuck, wearing Halloween costumes meant to portray Puerto Rican dress. The photo was reportedly first posted to Shubuck’s Instagram feed, but has since been taken down. Rapoport announced late Monday that he would quit, writing in an Instagram post that he was resigning “to reflect on the work that I need to do as a human being and allow Bon Appétit to get to a better place.” Last week, Illyanna Maisonet, a freelance Puerto Rican food columnist, posted a direct-message exchange between her and Rapoport concerning Bon Appétit’s decision to reject a story she pitched. In it, Rapoport acknowledges that the magazine doesn’t do enough stories about Puerto Rican cuisine and suggests how Maisonet might find “a way in” to the magazine. Maisonet’s post prompted another user to repost the Halloween photo of Rapoport and Shubuck. That in turn led to the resurfacing of complaints about some of the magazine’s other practices. NPR

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As many companies enter a third month of lockdown with no clear end in sight, employers are toying with new perks that might address some of the struggles remote workers are facing on their own. For instance, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., based in San Jose, Calif., in April started giving employees access to meditation and mindfulness services from Headspace Inc. Employers are also trying to compensate for the loss of perks tied to the office, like free lunches in the cafeteria, or tied to places that are closed at the moment, like subsidized gym memberships. The financial software company BlackLine Inc., for instance, had contributed to employees’ memberships to ClassPass Inc., which allows users to take classes at a variety of gyms and studios. Now BlackLine is testing a four-week series of virtual classes via ClassPass. Businesses are trying one-off perks as well. Pre-pandemic, Meadows Office Interiors, which is headquartered in New York, used to have events like wine on Wednesdays and pizza on Fridays. Those now gone, the company went to SnackMagic, a new brand from Kitchen Stadium Inc., to allow employees to choose $45 worth of snacks to have sent to their homes.  WSJ

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