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job interview bad references review your salary

4 Tips to prevent bad references from damaging your job search

Whenever you apply for a job, you can almost guarantee that your potential employer will ask for references. However, what happens if your previous manager gives bad references to a prospective employer?

job interview bad references

Prospective employers just want to check that you were a good employee and you’ve stated the truth within your job application. As illegal as you think bad references might be, it is actually incredibly common, with estimates stating that 50% of managers give out bad references for previous employees.

Follow these tips to prevent bad references from damaging your job search, and protect your job search.

  1. Check your references

Bad references aren’t always caused by a previous termination of an employee’s contract. Sometimes it’s because of poor coworker relationships or because you left under challenging circumstances.

Firms like checkmyreference.com and Allison & Taylor Reference Checking actually offer to approach your previous employer and find out what they’re likely to say about you in their reference. If you’re worried about a bad reference or you’re unsure, this could be a great starting point for testing their opinions of you.

Double tip: DO NOT have a spouse, friend or relative call for you. If they don’t know what to ask, they might tip off your previous employer and the consequences might turn against you.

  1. Speak to your previous employer

At some point in your job search you may think that your previous employer will give you bad references, especially if your relationship with your manager was strained when you left. You may find it useful to actually speak to them and ask for an unbiased reference –usually confirm the employment dates/title of former employees– that represents you in the best possible way while still being highly accurate.

Your previous manager will be likely to appreciate this approach because you’re not only being proactive but you’re also stopping any potential cause for conflict or even legal action that could occur in the future due to a misleading reference. An agreement like this is protecting yourself as a job seeker and your previous company as a reference supplier, therefore creating a win-win situation for both parties.

Double tip: Don’t try this approach if you left in bad terms with your boss or the company. If you did, best way to go is to request a reference letter upon depart.

  1. Offer more reference options

You could counteract a bad reference by collating as many positive references for your future employer as possible, therefore implying that your bad reference is a one off and an anomaly. If you supply many glowing references and there’s only one bad reference, your future employer is likely to look past the one poor opinion of you.

One way to test who will offer a positive reference is by asking colleagues, past and present, to write a recommendation of you on LinkedIn. Once you find out who’s willing to write really positive references about you, you can contact them during future reference requests.

Double tip: Obviously, this process might take some time, so start it right away when you are at the beginning of your job search. Better to have all “ducks in a row” before answering some ads.

  1. When bad references keep happening

If your reference continues to address the issue in a negative way, then your next option is to serve them with a notice called the “Cease and Desist Letter.” The notice will emphasize that they might be open to a legal actions against the whole company –not just personal to your old boss or supervisor.

These notices are issued by an attorney and sent to senior management of the company, stating the nature and origin of the bad references. Frequently, corporate guidelines advise management against this behavior and direct the negative reference to not offer additional negative comments or bad references.

Double tip: Again, hire a professional that will act on your behalf and trust their experience and expertise. Fees well spent in preventing later damages are an investment in your future job opportunities.

In summary, it’s clear that there are ways to prevent a bad reference from occurring and approaches to counteracting a bad reference. While it’s always best to leave in good terms with an employer, it’s not always possible. Therefore the approaches described above can be incredibly useful. Checking your references via a third party, speaking to your previous manager and collating as many positive references as possible are ways to prevent bad references from sabotaging your job search in a diplomatic, proactive way.

gender diversity in corporate America

Gender diversity in the C-suite, where Latinas stand

If the overall consensus in the business world is that gender diversity is now an ethical and business imperative–at least in declaration–, why is gender discrimination still rampant in the corporate world?

A few days ago, I was horrified reading an article on The New York Times in which the author talks about the gender discrimination nightmares she suffered working in a male dominant environment such as Wall Street. It prompted these thoughts about the need to keep on pushing and pushing harder to encourage women in general and Latinas at work in particular  to reclaim gender diversity in the workplace.

gender diversity in corporate America where Latinas stand

If the overall consensus in the business world is that gender diversity is now an ethical and business imperative–at least in declaration–, why is gender discrimination still rampant in the corporate world?

A few days ago, I was horrified reading an article on The New York Times in which the author talks about the gender discrimination nightmares she suffered working in a male dominant environment such as Wall Street. It prompted these thoughts about the need to keep on pushing and pushing harder to encourage women in general and Latinas at work in particular  to reclaim gender diversity in the workplace.

Time after time I attend diversity conferences, summits and business events, large corporations declare they recognize the need for including gender diversity in their upper ranks. Unfortunately, the gender diversity pathway is still excruciatingly slow, especially for Latinas.

Despite some advances, women are under-represented at every level of the corporate world, especially when it comes to leadership positions. The number of women in senior level positions has increased compared to ten years ago, but still have not met anyone’s expectations.

According to the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility (HACR) 2015 Corporate Inclusion Index (HACR CII), “Hispanics held just over 7 percent of board seats amongst the participating companies, which is higher than the average within the Fortune 500, but is still considered low.” The latest? United Airlines named Oscar Muñoz as its new CEO last year, after the company’s CEO and chairman Jeff Smisek stepped down amid an investigation into wrongdoing at the airline.

Latinas? Although many are climbing the ranks, none are sitting as CEO’s and only 37 out of 5,511 board seats in Fortune 500 companies gather around corporate board tables.

Gender diversity in the developed world

The World Economic Forum makes the case for gender diversity in the workplace: “Ensuring the healthy development and appropriate use of half of the world’s available talent pool thus has a vast bearing on how competitive a country may become or how efficient a company may be. There is clearly also a values-based case for gender equality: women are one half of the world’s population and deserve equal access to health, education, economic participation and earning potential and political decision-making power. Ultimately, gender equality is fundamental to whether and how societies thrive.”

In Europe the gap in gender diversity in the corporate world is gradually disappearing. Countries like France, Norway, Israel, Germany, Belgium, Spain, etc, all have at least 30 percent females on their corporate board. For the year 2016, the European Union has asked for a 40 percent quota for women in business organizations in European countries. By contrast, in the USA there are no such mandatories and having women in corporate ranks is completely voluntary. In the top 500 fortune companies in the USA, there are less than 17 percent women on corporate boards and more than 50 percent of these companies do not even have any women on their boards.

What does gender diversity inclusion entitle?

Only recently has senior leadership devoted time to addressing this problem. Gender diversity is a top ten strategy of only one fourth of corporations in the USA, and in more than a third of companies there is no strategic agenda on this matter. There is universal agreement that for gender diversity to succeed in the corporate world, a company needs firm commitment from the top, otherwise all other initiatives along the pathway will fail.

The process of increasing diversity requires broad interventions in the entire company and everyone has to be aligned with the same objective –often a difficult task because not everyone in the company may agree to such changes. To counter such sentiments, one has to design certain conditions so that change can take place.

Working Latinas and gender diversity in the workplace

Young mothers’ needs are not considered in the corporate environment despite that gender diversity has been proven to be effective for corporate success.

Maternity leave, dedication to family and work, and other parenting responsibilities have often been cited as obstacles to career achievement among women by gender diversity-resistant officers. Women’s performances are attached to different standards when it comes to annual reviews for promotional opportunities.

Imaginary case scenarios –“she won’t be able to travel or she won’t be able to work long hours” –may be cited as justifications for not offering women real advancement opportunities. Women’s needs in the workplace have not been addressed by corporations in all its real and full complexity. In fact, most work procedures and best practices never take in consideration a gender approach.

Even when a commitment to change the culture of a company has been made, it takes time to implement those changes. Of course, all companies want competent women leaders and this can often be a challenge in some professions lacking competent senior females. But really, are there no competent women in certain fields? And if so, what about the competent ones that abound in other fields?

Competence is not a birth right, but a set of skills acquired overtime usually through mentoring and sponsoring opportunities. Visibility is also part of competency but it is used as a privilege of those who only see advantages in choosing peers to work with. Women might make men feel uncomfortable because they have a different perspective on issues or a different approach to solving problems. So there is a great deal of adjustment for both genders to be made in the culture of a company that can only be accomplished by increasing gender inclusion in the discussion process.

Do women on corporate boards help organizations?

The question that is often asked, “Why is there a need for gender diversity in the corporate world?” must then be answered by another question, “Does having women on a corporate board help the organization?”

The answer is a resounding yes. More evidence seems to indicate that when women are on a corporate board it benefits the company in more ways than one. One study showed that for every female on the corporate board, the company paid less for acquisitions it made. This suggests that women on corporate boards are more prudent, have less interest in risky mergers and tend to remain focused on higher returns.

A recent study by Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, “Mining the Metrics of Board Diversity show “… how the progression of women on boards has increased gradually over the past five years but that, on average, companies with mixed-gender boards have marginally better, or similar, performance to a benchmark index, such as the MSCI World, particularly over the past 18 months. Whereas, on average, companies with no women on their boards underperformed relative to gender-diverse boards and had slightly higher tracking errors, indicating potentially more volatility.”

Surveys of board directors have also revealed that women seem to make better business decisions that improve the company’s performance or indicate that women on corporate boards are more trusted by their peers than their male counterparts and show good skills often with a positive outcome for the company. Based on these data there is a call to rescind the mandate of a minimum number of women on the board because it makes good business sense.

A long way to go still ahead for Latinas in the workplace Young businesswoman walking up on corporate ladder

Sadly, while women are gaining a foothold in the corporate world in the USA, it is hard to find one Latina at a top senior level. Despite being a large population in the USA, Latinas have been completely under represented. Why Latinas do not make it to the upper echelons of the corporate world remains a mystery. Is it because they lack education or experience? Or is it because Latinas themselves are not interested in the world of business?

Anecdotal reports indicate that Latinas simply are ignored irrespective of their qualifications and experience. While the “all American female” is finally getting a break in life, Latinas still have a long way to go. Until then, the only thing to do is to keep on trying.

The road ahead might be less difficult because the door to gender diversity has already been opened. Awareness of this issue is no longer a problem and gradually corporations are making themselves committed to gender equality across the board.

Now,  aren’t Hispanic women qualified for these jobs? Those in senior executive positions, are they being considered for their experience? What would it take to be part of the short list of candidates?

What unique assets can Latinas offer because of our heritage and culture? How can Latinas make themselves visible by proving their potential as sound corporate leaders? What strengths do they bring to the table of large corporations that are instrumental in successful leadership?

We need to find these answers and we need to find them now.

 

 

 

office eating Latinas at work

4 Easy tips to change unhealthy eating on the job for Latinas at work

office eating Latinas at work

Over the years, businesses have incorporated a risk-free work environment, instituted safe working appliances and educated workers on safety. Everywhere, there are warning signs of fire and other hazards. But one hazard which is almost never discussed at work is unhealthy eating on the job.

Unhealthy eating on the job is now considered to be an occupational hazard according to the World Health Organization. Food at work is one of the pillars of a productive workforce and an indispensable social element in our society. However, over the years employees have been munching on unhealthy snacks and drinking gallons of coffee every working minute.

Very few workplaces offer healthy meal programs. So workers bring in their own foods, which typically contain high amounts of carbohydrates and are enriched with sugar. Employees eat all the time; in fact, many of them have jars full of candies and chocolates on their desk which they munch on while working. This voracious need to eat junk food not only leads to loss of productivity but also to obesity and many other health problems.

In a recent national survey conducted by Healthy Americas Institute, it was observed that over 50percent of Hispanics and African Americans –compared to 37% of Caucasians– reported they drank sugary beverages almost daily.

Dr Jane Delgado, President and CEO, National Alliance for Hispanic Health.

Dr Jane Delgado, President and CEO, National Alliance for Hispanic Health.

Dr Jane Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the nation’s leading Hispanic health advocacy group stated, “For too long the guidelines on what to eat were not driven by the best science.”

Many workers are not fit, have poor dietary habits and the problem is often aggravated by the abundance of sugary foods available in the work place. Too frequently almost any achievement, meeting, discussion or seminar is celebrated with a dessert, doughnuts, coffee and other sugary foods.

Management often believes that offering food is a great way to boost workers’ morale. Workplaces now have vending machines offering every type of snack and sugary beverage possible. Some do not offer clean water so workers are left with no other choice than buying a sugary beverage from a vending machine. During lunch break most employees rush out to order street or junk food which is often high in calories, fat and sugar.

Dr Delgado further stated that, “Already, one in seven calories consumed by youth are from added sugars in products like soda and sports drinks. The impact has been particularly harmful in Hispanic and African American communities that are the subject of intense marketing by the sugar sweetened beverage industry.”

 

Is it possible to solve this epidemic of senseless munching at work?

Because this senseless eating has become deeply ingrained in our work habits, making any colossal change is bound to fail. Thus, making small incremental steps might improve workplace habits that boosts productivity and helps bring out a new “YOU.” Here are some unhealthy habits that you can get rid off by taking the following measures:

  1. Get up and stretch: No matter how busy you are at work, try and take a break every hour and walk around. Sitting all day can lead to back pain, serious weight gain and makes you very tired. If you sit around all day, even regular exercise will not help you lower the health risks. Make it a habit of walking and stretching yourself for a few minutes every hour.
  2. Eat lunch with others: Americans tend to eat lunch at their desk and rarely interact with others. Social isolation tends to impact negatively on longevity. Moreover loneliness can lead to depression, loss of self-esteem and even overeating. Consider lunchtime as an opportunity to connect with other co-workers and share healthier eating habits, exchanging recipes or healthy food you bring from home. Dare your co-workers to a game of healthier habits the group can agree upon, or to try healthier food from restaurants around the office. Count calories and keep a score for each co-worker, agree on a weekly prize for the winner –the one who ate fewer calories that week on the job. Make it fun, not stressful!green salad in a plate
  3. Stop mindless snacking. One common reason why people tend to snack endlessly is worry and stress. Further, when people are stressed they tend to eat unhealthy sugary foods to re-energize the brain with low quality sugary foods. Often people who are stressed are also in a hurry and tend to eat whatever is available in the vending machine or on the street. These choices take a nutritional toll. The human body is not able to digest food while you are in a “fight or flight mode” and hence digestive problems also tend to be more common in stressed individuals. Symptoms like bloating, excess gas, belching and stomach cramps are common complaints in high strung individuals. If you are stressed and hungry, take a deep breath and drink lots of water first. This will partly take away the hunger and allow you to make some decent choices for your snacks. Always plan ahead and have available healthy snacks- so you do not rush to the nearest vending machine when aggravated.
  4. Get outside and, if possible, do some walking: Work can become very absorbing and often people tend to Multiracial business people working outdoor in townforget how much time has passed. It is important for all workers to get outside and get some sun. This natural light is vital for your health, happiness and mood. There is ample evidence showing that the brain produces more mood balancing substances like serotonin and endorphins, when one is exposed to sunlight. Plus you also get a healthy dose of sun which is necessary to make vitamin D. Instead of eating a snack during break, go for a ten minute walk. There is no exercise that comes close to walking for health benefits. It allows you to enjoy nature, lose weight, lowers your cholesterol and on top of it all walking is FREE. Finally walking is very safe unless you fall down a pothole, while texting.

In the past few years, many laudable efforts have been made to alter the eating habits of workers. The National Alliance for Hispanic Health has is now committed to support healthy retail options and information for Hispanics. Dr Delgado adds, “We are particularly pleased to see the recommendations limiting the amount of added sugars in our diet to no more than 10 percent of daily calories.”

The Alliance is all in favor of increasing taxation on sugary foods (teaspoon tax) to help reduce the intake of these foods. If these efforts fail, it appears that occupational health will need to enter the battle of “mindless eating” by making it a topic of discussion within the culture of each company.

Would you be willing to lead such initiative in your workplace?