Myths and realities about working in the non-profit sector

It’s possible to make a difference in the non-profit sector, but no one should assume that work life there is a picnic. Like for-profit and public employers, non-profit employers run the gamut. Some are terrific, many are okay, and others are positively dreadful.

In addition to facing the financial pressures of trying to do more with limited resources, non-profits suffer from their own brands of employee relations problems. So steer clear of the myths of non-profit employment, and understand the realities. Here are among the major ones:

1. Myth: Non-profit employers care deeply about their employees.

Reality: Don’t count on it. The non-profit sector sometimes forgets about its own.

In a 2007 piece for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “Guess Who’s Socially Irresponsible?,” fundraising consultant Mal Warwick noted that “philanthropy — the love of humankind — is missing from the practices of many nonprofits.” He urged that non-profits must “come to understand that philanthropy begins at home.”

2. Myth: There’s very little bullying, mobbing, or sexual harassment in non-profits, because people working in that sector watch out for each other.

Reality: Some of the worst bullying, mobbing, and sexual harassment situations I’ve heard of over the past 15 years have come out of the non-profit sector.

A do-gooder organizational mission doesn’t ensure high-character employees. It’s one thing to fight for The Cause; it’s quite another to treat people decently. I’d be surprised if prevalence rates of interpersonal abuse are materially lower at non-profits than in the for-profit or public sectors.

3. Myth: You won’t encounter any psychopathic or narcissistic types in the non-profit sector; they’re only to be found in the big bad corporations.

Reality: Sorry, but these folks can easily turn up as senior administrators in non-profits.

It seems like such a disconnect when people with these personality traits and disorders are hired into institutions that embrace a social mission, but it happens — a lot. Once empowered, they may bully, connive, and manipulate, sometimes while serving as the charismatic, smiling face of the organization.

4. Myth: There’s very little hierarchy in the non-profit sector, because everyone is in it together.

Reality: Oh, don’t get me started on this one.

Malcolm Warwick observed that many non-profits use “strictly hierarchical, command-and-control” management techniques. Check out a typically large, multi-layered non-profit organization, and you’ll see what I mean.

5. Myth: Non-profit board members really care about the organization’s employees.

Reality: Non-profit boards often are comprised of business executives, many of whom don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the well-being of rank-and-file workers.

To the degree that employee relations matters are brought to their attention, they usually will be filtered through the organization’s top management. Workers’ concerns are more likely to be regarded as a nuisance than as a priority.

6. Myth: Lawyers that represent non-profits take on a more humanistic approach to employment disputes.

Reality: Do not make that assumption, ever.

Many non-profits, especially larger and more prestigious ones, are represented by corporate law firms that specialize in advising management. Especially if a non-profit has a track record of treating its workers poorly, one can expect its lawyers to echo those values and practices.

******

Related posts

Prestigious honorary society president may be a bullying boss (2013)

Bullying of volunteers (2013)

Burnout in the non-profit sector (2012)

When the bullying comes from a board member (2011)

When bad employers retain thuggish employment lawyers (2011)

Workplace bullying in the non-profit sector (2011)

The dignity of a living wage

Across America, labor activists and other progressives are calling for a higher federal minimum wage, often citing the personal financial challenges that confront low-paid retail and fast food workers. The current minimum wage is $7.25/hour, though some states have adopted a slightly higher one. Advocates are calling for a new minimum wage ranging from $10.00 to $15.00 an hour.

Whenever a minimum wage hike is proposed or debated, opponents claim that doing so will reduce jobs. At the far end of that spectrum, virulent opponents of any minimum wage law claim that such government mandates are “job killers.”

Yes, I suppose if you got rid of the princely $7.25/hour minimum wage, you could take the same hourly rate and pay three people $2.00/hour and still have a $1.25/hour as a bonus for the CEO. But that’s not “job creation,” it’s exploitation. Take away the minimum wage and you get a labor situation like that in Bangladesh, where wealthy corporations pay factory workers a pittance and subject them to dangerous working conditions. (After all, American factory jobs moved overseas to avoid paying workers good wages and benefits!)

Current minimum wage and low-wage earners often find themselves having to access public benefits such as food stamps to get by. The low minimum wage means, in effect, that American taxpayers are indirectly subsidizing corporations such as Walmart and McDonald’s and their shareholders by supporting living expenses for workers who can’t afford to live on their paltry paychecks alone.

Above all, we need to frame this debate in terms of human dignity. Okay, so maybe that high school senior from an upper middle class family who works part-time to earn spare cash can get by on $7.25/hour. But for those supporting themselves and others, a full-time job at least should pay for the basics. In fact, let’s remember that Congress’s intent behind enacting the federal minimum wage law during the heart of the Great Depression of the 1930s was to provide a living wage. It’s a shame that we have to invoke the hardship of our last systemic economic meltdown to remind ourselves of that.

Why I cancelled my Amazon Prime account

I cancelled my Amazon Prime account earlier this week, and until working conditions for their employees improve, I won’t be shopping there nearly as often as I have previously.

Amazon Prime is a premium membership service that guarantees two-day shipping on almost every item ordered. For frequent customers such as myself, Prime offers easy, dependable, click-and-ship ordering, with hardly any waiting time for delivery.

However, revelations about Amazon’s labor practices have become increasingly disturbing, more specifically the working conditions in its vast merchandise warehouses. For me, the final straw was a recent Salon investigative piece by Simon Head, “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers,” detailing how the situation is much worse than I imagined:

As at Walmart, Amazon achieves [fast delivery systems] with a regime of workplace pressure, in which targets for the unpacking, movement, and repackaging of goods are relentlessly increased to levels where employees have to struggle to meet their targets and where older and less dextrous employees will begin to fail. . . .

Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across and combines state-of-the-art surveillance technology with the system of “functional foreman,” introduced by [Frederick] Taylor in the workshops of the Pennsylvania machine-tool industry in the 1890s. . . . London Financial Times economics correspondent Sarah O’Connor describes how, at Amazon’s center at Rugeley, England, Amazon tags its employees with personal sat-nav (satellite navigation) computers that tell them the route they must travel to shelve consignments of goods, but also set target times for their warehouse journeys and then measure whether targets are met.

All this information is available to management in real time, and if an employee is behind schedule she will receive a text message pointing this out and telling her to reach her targets or suffer the consequences.

From the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to the computers on which we surf the online world, it’s hard to be a moral purist in today’s consumer marketplace. I get that. I also understand that a “rogue” office, factory, or warehouse can pop up in even the best of large companies.

Nonetheless, terrible working conditions appear to be baked into Amazon’s current operating mode. Customer convenience and service are important in the retail industries, but they should not come at the expense of employee dignity and well-being.

Many years ago, I cut my working teeth in retail stores. When the store floor was busy with customers, or when a shipment of goods had to be unloaded from delivery trucks, we stepped up and got the work done right. When things weren’t as busy, we dialed it down a bit. Overall, people did their jobs steadily and dependably, and we didn’t need to have our every move timed and monitored by managers. We didn’t make a lot of money, but we were treated decently. Amazon, however, regards its warehouse workers as human robots.

I’m not suggesting that we completely boycott Amazon. But customer options such as Prime fuel their very worst labor practices. Surely these workers deserve better working conditions, even if it means that we wait, say, three days rather than two for a delivery.

I wrote to Amazon explaining my decision and quickly received a reply saying that my concerns would be shared with the appropriate people. I hope this will be the case. For now, Amazon is a 21st century company with 19th century labor practices, and they need to hear from their customers.

Google: Awesome and not-so-awesome

Very few individuals have either all good or all bad qualities. Hopefully we have more of the former and less of the latter.

The same goes for companies, and few capture these extremes more than Google.

On the one hand…

I am not a Google power user, so I haven’t even started to tap its many features. But I am continually blown away by its capabilities as a search engine. In my experience it ranks multiple levels above its competitors.

I can type in bits of phrases and find exactly what I’m looking for. I can go on fishing expeditions and discover incredibly useful and interesting things. The other day I typed in an airport location to a home address, and up popped super accurate driving directions to help direct a cab.

In sum, Google has redefined how we obtain information. Its programmed “intuition” is brilliant.

Google also appears regularly on lists of the best employers, especially among high tech companies. It ranked no. 1 on the 2013 Fortune list of the 100 best employers. It topped a 2012 LinkedIn survey of most desired global employers. If you have the right skill sets, then this is a destination of choice.

Indeed, even Google interns make a fantastic salary. As reported by Glassdoor.com, software engineering interns are paid an average of over $6,000/month. This is a far cry from mega-gobs of unpaid internships offered by so many other employers that could surely afford to pay their interns.

On the other hand…

If you don’t have those high demand skills, however, your compensation prospects at Google may not be so great. For example, Laura Sydell reports for National Public Radio on how wealthy Bay Area companies like Google contract with firms that pay low wages to provide basic services:

Santa Clara County, Calif., is home to Google, Apple and eBay. So it’s no surprise that the median household income was $91,000 a year in 2012, one of the highest in the country. Yet one-third of the households in the county don’t earn enough for basic living expenses, even when they work at some of those big tech companies.

Take Manny Cardenas, a security guard at Google who lives in low-income housing in San Jose and commutes regularly to Google’s sprawling corporate campus in Mountain View. Cardenas, a stocky, soft-spoken 25-year-old, has been working as a part-time security guard at the search giant for the past year and a half. . . .

. . . Cardenas earns $16 an hour, has no benefits and never gets more than 30 hours a week. In a good month, he brings home about $1,400. If Cardenas didn’t live with his mother, he says, he probably wouldn’t have a roof over his head.

Granted, $16 an hour would be a living wage in other parts of the country. But it doesn’t go far in northern California. Because of the contracting arrangement, those wages will never be factored into Google’s average compensation figures. Google could, if it wished, exercise its economic clout and work only with contractors that pay living wages and benefits.

Unfortunately, Google also is using its abundant monies to advance a policy agenda furthering the interests of the wealthy and powerful. As reported by Nick Surgey for BillMoyers.com, Google funds a bevy of far right think tanks and advocacy groups:

Google, the tech giant supposedly guided by its “don’t be evil” motto, has been funding a growing list of groups advancing the agenda of the Koch brothers.

Organizations that received “substantial” funding from Google for the first time over the past year include Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union (best known for its CPAC conference) and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation that led the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act: Heritage Action.

In 2013, Google also funded the corporate lobby group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, although that group is not listed as receiving “substantial” funding in the list published by Google.

Assessing

Are remarkable high tech innovations incompatible with a public policy agenda that embraces the common good? Can attractive salaries and model work environments for highly skilled workers co-exist with a living wage and benefits for all?

Socially responsible capitalism means taking the moral high road, even when there’s no government regulator forcing you to do so. When private companies enjoy great success, they can opt to share their bounties and support a rising tide that lifts all boats. Google has immense economic and, hence, political power. Wouldn’t it be great if the company opted to become a standard bearer for ethical, inclusive business practices?

“Compassionate management” sounds great, but can it sweat the tough stuff?

Last month, business writer Bronwyn Fryer blogged for the Harvard Business Review about the welcomed trend toward “compassionate management,” at least as measured by a growing number of conferences, panel discussions, lectures, and social media sites devoted to the topic. Here’s a snippet:

A growing number of business conferences are focusing in on the topic of compassion at work. There’s the International Working Group on Compassionate Organizations. There’s the Changing Culture in the Workplace Conference. Then there’s Wisdom 2.0, dedicated to “exploring living with greater awareness, wisdom and compassion in the modern age.” The speakers are no slouches: eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Bill Ford (yes, that Bill Ford), Karen May (VP of Talent at Google), and Linked In CEO Jeff Weiner top the bill. At TED, Karen Armstrong’s talk about reviving the Golden Rule won the TED prize in 2009 and has given rise to a Charter for Compassion signed by nearly 100,000 people.

It’s a very good piece, chock full of links to learn more, and well worth reading in its entirety.

Nevertheless…

Hopeful signs notwithstanding, we know that compassionate management is far from the norm, as Fryer acknowledges.

Indeed, the overall emotional state of the American workplace shows a crying need for enlightened management practices. A recent Gallup Poll indicated that 70 percent of American workers “have ‘checked out’ at work or are ‘actively disengaged,’” as Ricardo Lopez reported recently for the Los Angeles Times. These high percentages of emotional disengagement have been pretty consistent since 2000.

Furthermore, readers of this blog know very well that workplace bullying is one of the most common forms of interpersonal abuse. When presented with reports of bullying at work, employers often dismiss the complaints or make the situation worse for the targeted worker. In fact, this occurs 62 percent of the time, according to a 2007 Workplace Bullying Institute national survey conducted with Zogby International pollsters.

Among the challenges…

As I wrote in my 2008 article, “Workplace Bullying and Ethical Leadership” (Journal of Values-Based Leadership), a real test of an organizational leader is what she does when presented with a valid report about workplace bullying that implicates a top executive or, better yet, that person’s friend. Will the situation be handled fairly and honestly, or will it be swept under the rug? All of the organization’s proclaimed devotion to ethics and social responsibility go out the window if the latter occurs.

The same can be said of compassionate management generally. It’s one thing to say all the right things; it’s a lot harder to do them, especially when the circumstances are inconvenient or uncomfortable.

In addition, compassionate management must encompass genuine inclusion. This means giving workers a real voice (and backing it up with protections against retaliation for exercising it) and striving to work cooperatively with unions in organized workplaces. It’s not about creating a facade of feel-good “niceness” that dodges difficult and thorny challenges.

And don’t forget the Golden Rule…

Fryer recognized the tension between cynicism and optimism that many of us balance when it comes to dealing with our workplaces, and she suggested that the Golden Rule is a good starting place for guiding our behaviors:

It’s just a hunch, but I suspect most of us are experiencing cynicism fatigue. The overwhelmingly bad news springing from the news media leaves most people with two options: either they become cynics who drown themselves in their own pleasures, or they try to make a difference. Most of the smart people I know are little a bit of both, but they fight their cynical side. They try to work on something of worth at work and in the world. There is no better way to start doing this than to practice the golden rule on an hourly basis.

I’ve written about the Golden Rule at work before. Like compassionate management, it’s easier preached than practiced, but it’s a worthy aspiration.

***

Related post

Is your workplace psychologically and ethically healthy? (2010)

The social responsibilities of intellectuals at a time of extraordinary human need

I’m at the biennial Congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where I’m presenting a couple of short papers and attending various panels and presentations. It’s a very educational conference for me and an especially good opportunity to reconnect with other law professors, lawyers, judges, and graduate students associated with therapeutic jurisprudence, the school of legal thought that examines the psychologically healthy and unhealthy properties of law and legal systems. The conference draws participants from all over the world and serves as a useful indicator of topics that are getting a lot of attention in the realm of law and psychology. The thick program book (pdf here) lists the dozens of panels offered each day during the week-long gathering.

My own talks have taken a broader focus than my specific work on various employee relations topics. On Monday, I presented on the topic of intellectual activism, the term I use to represent the ongoing process of using scholarship and research to inform law reform, social change, and public education efforts on compelling issues of the day. On Tuesday I presented on how the basic tenets of therapeutic jurisprudence can inform a healthier, more meaningful culture of legal scholarship. It marked the first time I’ve presented at a conference an article I wrote three years ago, “Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Practice of Legal Scholarship” (link to free pdf, here).

Jensen and Hedges on progressive intellectuals

These presentations happened to coincide with a lot of thought I’ve been devoting to the role of scholars and scholarship in shaping public opinion and positive change. Here are two writers whose ideas have recently sparked some of that thinking:

Robert Jensen, a University of Texas journalism professor, author, and activist, believes that intellectuals have a responsibility to question the status quo and to challenge abuses of wealth and power. In the introduction to his short book, We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out (2012), he writes:

One of the jobs of intellectuals is to identify the issues to which we should be paying attention, even when — especially when — people would prefer to ignore problems. Intellectuals today should be apocalyptic, focusing attention — and a lot of our attention — on the hard-to-face realities of an unjust and unsustainable world. Today, the distribution of wealth and power around the world fails to meet even minimal moral standards. . . .

In his book and in a shorter piece adapted from it posted to Alternet, Jensen makes some broader points about the role of intellectuals in our society. He believes that intellectuals should question and shed light on how power and wealth are distributed in our society. Those in advantaged positions, such as professors who have the privileges and protections of tenure, are specially obliged to engage in such questioning. Jensen is especially critical of liberal intellectuals who don’t challenge the status quo because it would hurt their professional and social standing.

In another piece posted to Alternet earlier this year, progressive political writer Chris Hedges, whose early opposition to the Iraq war cost him dearly in terms of professional standing, issued an even sharper critique of liberal intellectuals:

The power elite, especially the liberal elite, has always been willing to sacrifice integrity and truth for power, personal advancement, foundation grants, awards, tenured professorships, columns, book contracts, television appearances, generous lecture fees and social status. They know what they need to say. They know which ideology they have to serve. They know what lies must be told—the biggest being that they take moral stances on issues that aren’t safe and anodyne. They have been at this game a long time. And they will, should their careers require it, happily sell us out again.

My thoughts

We face many serious, even urgent social, economic, and environment challenges right now. Those who are privileged with the protections of tenure and academic freedom should embrace a social responsibility to be researching, understanding, and speaking out on matters of importance.

Of course, there will be disagreements on understanding, analysis, and solutions. Indeed, notwithstanding my general agreement with Jensen and Hedges on these matters, I firmly believe that academe should represent a wide variety of viewpoints on social, political, and economic issues. I also believe that institutions of higher learning should not be uniform, and this includes making room for those of more pronounced political, social, and religious leanings.

But the main point holds: Intellectuals should help to lead, not merely react and respond. In both of my talks at this conference, I suggested that scholars should be “responsibly bold” about investigating reality and fashioning solutions to our problems. I also urged us to be “restlessly patient,” understanding that positive change can take time, while continually seeking opportunities to effect that change sooner than later. Such qualities of purposeful, long-term thinking and action should inure to the benefit of society.

Working Notes: On the trauma of job loss, retaliatory e-mail surveillance, and Costco as the good company

Dear readers, here are three articles worth your attention:

Experiencing a layoff

In an unusually personal piece, Carey Goldberg, health writer for WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, blogs about her experience of being laid off six years ago by the Boston Globe:

I went back to visit my old parking lot at The Boston Globe this week. For more than six years, I commuted to the Globe along the crawling traffic of the Southeast Expressway, travel mug in hand. But what I remember most about that parking lot is crying in it.

It was 2009. The Globe was in a major financial crisis, like much of the country. Brian McGrory, then the Metro editor, had just called me in to his office to warn me that I was almost certainly about to lose my job.

I held it together in his office, but then when I came out into the parking lot to call my best friend, I felt a wave of shame and insult engulf me. I knew better, but for just that moment, I felt — worthless.

She segues from her own experience to input from experts on the trauma of experiencing a layoff. It’s a thoughtful, informative post that all too many people will find validating.

E-mail surveillance as a form of retaliation

Ohio management employment lawyer Jon Hyman, blogging for Workforce Management, raises a thorny legal question. Most employers have the right to inspect employees’ company e-mail accounts. But what if an employer starts to do so with an individual employee only after she has filed a complaint or lawsuit, such as a claim of sexual harassment? Here’s part of his read on this:

Could the email surveillance, in and of itself, be an adverse action sufficient to support a claim of retaliation? The legal standard for an adverse action sufficient to support a claim of retaliation is very broad. Anything that “might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination,” qualifies as a retaliatory adverse action. If you don’t regularly review employee email accounts, and only start examining an employee’s electronic activities after that employee engages in some protected activity, might that dissuade others from engaging in protected activity?

Hyman’s wise advice to employers is not to engage in such surveillance in a targeted manner.

Costco’s enlightened labor relations practices

Brad Stone, in a feature article for Business Week, examines Costco’s approach to labor relations and the management philosophies of its new CEO, Craig Jelinek, and his predecessor, company co-founder Jim Sinegal. Here’s the lede:

Joe Carcello has a great job. The 59-year-old has an annual salary of $52,700, gets five weeks of vacation a year, and is looking forward to retiring on the sizable nest egg in his 401(k), which his employer augments with matching funds. After 26 years at his company, he’s not worried about layoffs. In 2009, as the recession deepened, his bosses handed out raises. “I’m just grateful to come here to work every day,” he says.

This wouldn’t be remarkable except that Carcello works in retail, one of the stingiest industries in America, with some of the most dissatisfied workers. . . . In its 30-year history, Carcello’s employer, Costco, has never had significant labor troubles.

The Great Recession has triggered some brutal treatment of workers. That’s why it’s extra important to highlight companies that are taking a different approach.

McDonald’s Big Mac ad hits a new low

From the Orange Line, Boston subway (photo by DY)

From the Orange Line, Boston subway (photo by DY)

McDonald’s is now pitching Big Macs by making fun of public service ads for people who may need mental health counseling.

Here’s the ad I saw while riding the Orange Line of the Boston subway on Sunday: It features a woman looking down with her head buried in her hand, with the text including (1) a large main caption “You’re Not Alone,” (2) a much smaller caption “Millions of people love the Big Mac,” and (3) an 800 phone number at the bottom. (Yes, I called it. It’s McD’s corporate phone number.)

I don’t think I’m being oversensitive or too “PC” about this. If you ride the subway regularly, you often see public service ads depicting a person in obvious distress, captioned with a few supportive words, and listing a phone number to reach a sympathetic ear. We’re living in difficult times. There are a lot of people who are struggling with their mental and emotional health. They may be highly stressed out, depressed, or even suicidal.

The ad writers and executives in McDonald’s high-priced marketing operation missed the boat badly on this one. I’m sorry, but the ad is just too close to the real thing to be funny.

***

April 10 update: McDonald’s has responded by saying this was part of an ad campaign that never got formal approval from corporate central, and they’ve ordered the ads pulled. Details here from Eric Randall at Boston Magazine, who has been following the story. (It sounds like McD’s will be be revisiting their protocols in working with advertisers because of this.)

At this point I’m a little bemused by how this story has turned mini-viral. Popular Boston blog Universal Hub and Time magazine’s Brad Tuttle also picked up the story, and I had to decline an interview with Boston’s Channel 5 News because I’m out of town.

I deliberately tried to write the post in a way that was pointed but non-inflammatory, so it’s quite interesting to see how something like this grows legs.

***

April 11 update: And the Boston Business Journal‘s Galen Moore pulled the story together, including more about the Arnold advertising firm apparently responsible for the snafu.

***

April 12 update: To my surprise, the story has gone viral, with coverage ranging from ABC News to the Daily Mail over in the U.K. In addition, the mental health community has been weighing in. Here’s the lede from Marie Szaniszlo’s piece in the Boston Herald:

Mental health advocates yesterday blasted a McDonald’s ad on the MBTA that appears at first to be a public service announcement targeting people suffering from depression.

“It’s really too bad because it trivializes the whole issue of depression,” said Julie Totten, executive director of Waltham-based Families for Depression Awareness, which has been running an ad of its own on the T for its Strides Against Stigma Walk on April 27 at Boston University. “We’re trying to say when you need help, it’s not a laughing matter. We don’t want people to feel stigmatized or made fun of.”

Working Notes: Charlie Rose settles unpaid intern lawsuit, WalMart vs. Costco, and eBossWatch’s worst boss list

From Intern Labor Rights

Credit: Intern Labor Rights

Here are some news items worth a look!

1. Settlement in unpaid interns lawsuit — Steven Greenhouse writes for the New York Times about PBS’s Charlie Rose Show settling a class action lawsuit for back wages brought by former unpaid interns (link here):

Charlie Rose and his production company have agreed to pay as much as $250,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by a former unpaid intern who claimed minimum-wage violations.

Under the settlement . . . , Mr. Rose and his production company, Charlie Rose Inc., will pay back wages to a potential class of 189 interns. The settlement calls for many of the interns to receive about $1,100 each — $110 a week in back pay, up to a maximum of 10 weeks, the approximate length of a school semester.

This is a major victory for the nascent but growing movement in opposition to unpaid internships.

2. WalMart vs. Costco on jobs — Here’s a neat little info graphic making its way around social media land, drawn from information compiled by Business Week:

20216_564844936866232_1387768896_n

Clearly, when it comes to compensation, not all big-box retailers are the same!

3. eBossWatch’s 2012 List of America’s Worst Bosses – One of my favorite sites, eBossWatch, has released its annual list of bad bosses. From the introduction to this year’s list:

The 2012 America’s Worst Bosses include a college dean, four restaurant owners, a fire department chief, five doctors, a judge, three county prosecuting attorneys, and a state attorney general.

. . . The managers who made this year’s list of America’s Worst Bosses were named in workplace lawsuits filed by their employees and were accused of workplace harassment and/or sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and/or creating a hostile work environment.

Virginia auto shops join forces to support bullied teen

We often think of a term such as “social responsibility” in highfalutin ways, associating it with grand mission statements about corporate ethics, community involvement, and safeguarding the environment.

But a bunch of Virginia auto shops led by Quality Auto Paint and Body gave us a lesson in what it really means: After learning that the car of area college student Jordan Allison had been vandalized repeatedly, including the “keying” of anti-gay slurs on its side, these businesses worked together to give the vehicle a major facelift and upgrade.

Group effort

Eric Pfeiffer, reporting for Yahoo! News (here), recounts how Quality Auto Paint and Body shop manager Richard Henegar, Jr., took the lead and enlisted others on Allison’s behalf:

Henegar says his shop and 10 other businesses (Parts Unlimited in Vinton, Advance Auto Parts, Moon’s Auto Body, Rice Toyota, Val’s Automotive, The Rod Shop, B&C Exterminating, Twists & Turns, AJ’s Landscaping, and Sunnybrook Auto Spa) went to work on Addison’s car, giving it a new paint job, tires, tinted windows, a new stereo and security system. He estimates the total value of the new parts to be over $10,000.

There’s a nice video news clip that accompanies the article, including the showing of the “new” car to Allison at the auto shop. Henegar, rather than trying to grab credit, actually is apologetic in explaining that his shop couldn’t afford to make all the repairs on its own.

Bravo

Yup, I plead guilty. Had you asked me what types of businesses are likely to take a stand against bullying and homophobia, auto shops never would’ve made my list.

Here’s to all the workers and businesses who stood up to bullying and supported a young man who had been mistreated. I’m sure that Jordan Allison will remember this kindness for the rest of his life.

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