Canadian HR Reporter

July 2019 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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Page 42 of 43

CANADIAN HR REPORTER JULY 2019 INSIGHT 43 By Wendy Cukier GUEST COMMENTARY Innovation requires gender, diversity lens It's about rethinking future skills by looking at competencies instead of credentials I recently had the opportunity to experiencethe world's largest conference on gender equal- ity and the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women — Women Deliver 2019. While presenting on the topic of gender inclusivity at confer- ences at home and abroad has almost become old hat for me, I must admit this event and its high calibre of expertise, research and dialogue was truly memorable. The WE EMPOWER pro- gramme of UN Women, the Euro- pean Union and the International Labour Organization teamed up with G(irls) 20 to host " e Fu- ture of Work: Women in the 21st Century Workplace" and I was honoured to be a panel member with colleagues from UN Women, McKinsey and UNSCR 1325. Here are some of the key mes- sages on the topic of the changing world of work and its implica- tions for women's economic em- powerment and access to decent work: In Canada, despite three de- cades of well-intentioned eff orts, women are still underrepresent- ed in leadership roles, in entre- preneurship, in science, tech- nology, engineering and math (STEM). We cannot continue to do the same thing over and over and ex- pect diff erent outcomes. We need new approaches. New and emerging technologies present threats and opportunities to women. On the one hand, some of the jobs most at risk are wom- en-dominated. On the other hand, some of the greatest growth areas are where women can excel. We must understand that com- plex systems shaping behaviour are multilayered. An ecological model enables us to apply a critical lens at every level of the ecosys- tem to drive inclusive innovation. At the macro level, we need to look at government policies, at stereotypes and media represen- tation, and at how we socialize men and women. At the organizational level, we need to apply a gender and di- versity lens to everything we do, whether in large or small organi- zations, public or private sector. We need to consider governance and strategy, goals and target and accountability frameworks, human resources practices and culture. But we also need to apply a gender and diversity lens at every stage of the value chain — to pro- curement policies, research and development, products and ser- vices, sales and marketing — to ensure inclusion is "baked into" the organization. And we need to look at how the organization uses its position and fi nancial power to infl uence the larger environment. At the individual level, we all have choices to make. We need to focus not just on developing skills, but on under- standing bias and privilege and using our individual spheres of infl uence to drive change for our- selves and others. We also need to rethink our ap- proach to innovation. Innovation is not actually about creating new technology or about building new products and ser- vices. Innovation is about doing things diff erently. If you have new technology and no one uses it, you do not have innovation. Science, technology, engineer- ing and math are necessary but insuffi cient. We also need to understand hu- man behaviour, markets, organi- zations, regulatory and policy frameworks, ethics, law and social impacts. Nowhere is this more impor- tant than in dealing with complex technologies such as artificial intelligence. While we need to continue to encourage more women to study STEM, we also need to recognize that focusing only on this area excludes women and does not actually give us what we need to advance innovation. It is also critical to see that the digital skills gaps we face are not just in terms of shortages of engineering and computer sci- ence or a lack of coding skills but also among "hybrids" — people who understand the technol- ogy but, even more importantly, the problems technology needs to solve. For every example of a technol- ogy that has sparked transforma- tion, there are countless others that have sat on the shelf because they were problems looking for solutions or there were impedi- ments to adoption that were not well understood. We need people with deep understanding of human behav- iour, of organizations, of project management, social impacts, law and regulation, as well as specifi c domains, such as health care or finance, who also understand technology. We need to recognize that the "soft skills" are actually hard, and to create inclusive alternative pathways for diverse women to build on what they know and ac- quire additional technology skills. We also need to recognize that this is essential not only to ex- tending the talent pool, but also to avoid the risk of replicating, embedding and entrenching bias in the products and services we develop. We need to understand the importance of an intersectional lens and to recognize the ways in which diverse women have dra- matically diff erent experiences. We know women are underrep- resented in leadership roles and that in the United States there are more male CEOs of large compa- nies than females. But we also know that in To- ronto, where half the population is racialized or people of colour, white women outnumber racial- ized women 17 to one in senior leadership roles. If we consider women with disabilities or Indig- enous women, the numbers are even worse. We can and must do better, and it is critically important to recog- nize the ways in which we can be allies. Rethinking how we under- stand innovation and future skills through a gender and diversity lens, developing new approaches to training, to recruiting and to advancing employees, putting more emphasis on competen- cies rather than credentials, and focusing on what people have to off er rather than just what they need, will not only improve the participation of women and other underrepresented groups, but will advance inclusive innovation and our economic and social growth agenda. Wendy Cukier is the academic direc- tor at the Diversity Institute, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and Future Skills Centre at Ryerson Uni- versity in Toronto. We need people who have a deep understanding of human behaviour, organizations, of project management, social impacts, law and regulation. Liability after sale of business Does new ownership have to provide identical compensation to employees? Question: If a company sells a part of its business to another company (employees and all), does the new company have to provide the same compensation, benefi ts and pensions, or can it change any of these without risking liability? Answer: is is something that the parties should consider at the front end of a transaction. Pur- chasers and vendors alike must turn their minds to labour and employment law issues when conducting a business purchase and sale. A major consideration is wheth- er the transaction takes the form of an asset purchase or a share transfer. Where the transaction is the latter, the corporation and em- ployer remain the same, even if the corporation has new owners. In the case of the sale of a busi- ness as a going concern, the em- ployment with the former em- ployer ends but is usually contin- ued with the new employer. Each transaction brings about diff erent consequences that each party will want to turn its mind to. Another critical question is whether the vendor's business has been certifi ed by a trade union and whether the purchaser will be a "successor" under labour legis- lation. Where a vendor's business is unionized, the purchaser of that business may well inherit the certifi cation order, any collective bargaining agreements, labour re- lations board orders and proceed- ings, and any other obligations the vendor had under the applicable labour legislation. In the context of a share trans- fer, any unilateral changes to the level of compensation, benefi ts or pension entitlement can open the employer up to potential li- ability in constructive dismissal, which arises when an employer unilaterally makes a change to a fundamental term of employ- ment without obtaining consent from the employee. e same risk can arise if the employer wants to unilaterally and fundamentally change the nature of an employ- ee's duties from those set out in the contract. It is also critical to bear in mind that most jurisdictions provide protection for employees in the context of a business sale. Employment standards legisla- tion in most jurisdictions provides for continuity of employment, for the purposes of minimum statu- tory benefi ts and entitlements un- der the legislation, where an em- ployer sells all or part of a business and the purchaser employs the employees of the seller-employer. ese provisions aim to ensure that all of the benefi ts contingent on an employee's length of service (such as vacation and parental leave entitlements as well as enti- tlements to notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice and sever- ance pay) are carried over to the employee's new employment with the purchaser of the business. However, it is possible to miti- gate any unintended consequenc- es fl owing from the purchase of a business by clearly setting out the obligations in the contract and ob- taining legal advice. Some questions that a purchas- er will want to consider are: • Is it an asset sale or a share sale? If it is an asset sale, is the inten- tion for the purchaser to operate the business as a going concern? • Is the workforce unionized? • Will the vendor sever employ- ment and will the purchaser hire the employees under new em- ployment contracts? If so, will terms and conditions of employ- ment change or stay the same? • Conversely, will employment be continuous from the vendor to the purchaser? Who will be li- able for pre-existing severance obligations to long-term em- ployees? How will this aff ect the purchase price? • If there is a union, how will this affect the purchaser's other operations? Is there a risk of unionization spreading to non- unionized operations? • How much statutory notice is owing to individual employees? If there is a union, what do the severance and technological change provisions of the collec- tive agreement say? • If there is no union, how much common law or contractual no- tice is owing to the employees? Are there written employment agreements in place? In all instances, each party to the transaction will want to obtain legal advice. The par ticular facts and cir- cumstances of each transaction will need to be considered and explored well in advance of the transaction to ensure all labour and employment issues have been covered off in a manner that is agreeable to both parties. Leah Schatz is a partner at MLT Aikins in Saskatoon. She can be reached at (306) 975-7144 or Question: If a company sells a part of its business to another company (employees and all), does the new company have to provide the same compensation, benefi ts and pensions, or can it change any of these By Leah Schatz TOUGHEST HR QUESTION How much common law or contractual law notice is owing to the employees?

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