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Embracing DE&I, confronting conflict of interest and maintaining social media privacy.

The Black In HR (TM)'s weekly column with Ayesha J. Whyte, JD, SPHR is an opportunity for our readers to ask questions important to them to a skilled and experienced HR executive and attorney. Ayesha is a strategic human resources leader and seasoned attorney who has served in leadership roles at The Walt Disney Company, Amtrak and WeWork. This week, Ayesha provides guidance and answers questions important to our readers on embracing DE&I, conflict of interest and personal social media privacy.


Question: How can we encourage companies to embrace diversity and inclusion in smaller family owned businesses?

Ayesha: In short, by making a business case for it. Diversity & Inclusion is the right thing to do but also (and sometimes more importantly for business owners) it is a great business move. When you speak about D&I at a small family owned business, make sure you are discussing employees, vendors and community partnership. All of these are extremely important in successful D&I strategies.


Embracing the experiences of members of particular identity groups to reconceive tasks, products and internal processes—enables businesses to increase their effectiveness through growth mindset, disruption and innovation. Leaning into what the company will tangibly gain by truly committing to D&I will be the most persuasive approach.


Question: My peer and I were going up for a promotion for the same role. My latest performance review reflected that I’m exceeding expectations. My peer received the promotion even though I managed more projects. I found out my manager is dating my peer and this may have influenced the decision making. How do I address this? I work for a small family owned business and my manager has a close relationship with the owners.

Ayesha: This is a tough one.

Honestly, addressing this can have negative/unintended consequences. You have highlighted a few things:

  1. You work for a small tight knit family owned company

  2. Your manager has a close relationship with the owners

  3. You believe that your peer is having a relationship with your manager

Here are some things to think about:

  • Did you hear (through rumor) that your manager and peer are in a romantic relationship or are you certain they have a relationship? If they are romantically involved, it is possible that the relationship has already been disclosed to the owners and received their approval.

  • Was your manager or the owners in charge of the promotion? This makes a big difference in how your conversation regarding the promotion decision goes.

By walking into this sensitive conversation without all of the necessary facts, you could end up the odd person out. It is an awful feeling to work hard and not get the recognition or pay you want/deserve; and that is what this is truly about. Based on that, I would not address the relationship or promotion but possibly start looking for a job in an environment in which you will feel appreciated and celebrated.


Question: My leadership has made a requirement that all employees disclose our personal facebook, LinkedIn and other social accounts for review. This feels like an invasion of privacy and I don’t want to do this. How do I navigate this requirement?

Ayesha: This is a growing trend and the answer is...it depends. There are several factors that are considered when determining what is allowed by employers:

  1. What is the job that you do? Is it a government position or one that requires a security clearance? Are you a public servant (police officer, judge, teacher, etc.)? There is greater latitude given to employers to review social media platforms for these classes of employees.

  2. In what state do you live? Certain states have social media privacy laws in place to protect you. Here is a link so you can view the social media privacy laws for your state:

  3. Are your social media accounts public or private? If they are set to private you have a much more valid argument regarding employer invasion of privacy.

Answering the questions above and checking the law (via the link) can help determine how to navigate the issue with your employer.


From Ayesha: Advice & opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

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