New Business Law Program Promises Answers To Tough Questions on Equality, Inclusion

Economic and financial impact during the Covid-19 health crisis deepens. Businesswoman with protective face mask checking financial trading data on smartphone by the stock exchange market display screen board in downtown financial district showing stock market crash sell-off in red colour
A new online speakers series focuses on issues of business law touching on everything from diversity to COVID-19 (Getty Images).

What are some recommendations to make a business more welcoming to the LGBTQ community?

What employment rights does an employee have if he or she is experiencing a lengthy recovery from COVID-19?

And do new technology-enhanced corporate hiring tools eliminate, or exacerbate, sexism and racism in the workplace?

Those are some of the questions that legal scholars will address in UConn’s “Equity Now!’’ business law series, which is open to students, faculty, alumni, friends of UConn, and other sponsoring institutions.

This speaker series explores legal issues relevant to underrepresented groups under a collective umbrella, says business law professor Robert Bird, who organized the UConn-sponsored program.

“These legal and social issues are of tremendous interest not only to our students but to the business community at large, as we navigate a quickly changing world,’’ Bird says. “I hope people take away a better understanding of how the law can advance the interests of underrepresented groups in both business and society.’’

The speakers will explain what rights individuals have and how subtle and overt discrimination against underrepresented groups can have deep and long lasting impacts on society, he said.

“In many ways, the legal environment of business has a history of bridging between the rules of governance today with the aspirations of society for tomorrow,’’ he said.

The upcoming speaker series addresses:

  • “The Promise and Perils of LGBTQ Rights in the Wake of Bostock v Clayton County’’ will be the topic of the 6 p.m. Nov. 16 presentation by professor Alex Reed of the University of Georgia. That U.S. Supreme Court decision is a landmark ruling that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Reed will review the case, explore its implications, and provide recommendations for business leaders to help promote LGBTQ-friendly workplaces.
  • “The Legal Environment for Workers with Disabilities: Before, During and After COVID-19’’ is the subject of the Feb. 16 presentation by professor Marianne DelPo Kulow of Bentley University. Her talk will highlight the opportunities, challenges and legal issues facing workers with disabilities, with an emphasis on how post-COVID environment may alter how people with disabilities interact with and succeed in organizations.
  • “Gender, Bias, and Technology in the 21st Century Workplace,’’ will be presented by professor Charlotte Alexander of Georgia State University and will conclude the series on March 30. Alexander will discuss how the #MeToo movement has focused new attention on the enduring problems of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination. At the same time, corporate experiments with computational tools to aid in hiring, evaluation and promotion have threatened to amplify the effects of systemic sexism, racism, and other forms of employment discrimination. Alexander will highlight ways that employers can build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.
  • The kickoff program, titled “Law, Race and Organizations: 2020 and Beyond’’ was presented on Oct. 26 by professor Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander of the University of Georgia. She discussed how the deaths of Breanna Taylor, George Floyd and others at the hands of law enforcement have highlighted the impact that discrimination based on race have had on life. She examined social forces tied to race, including the current legal environment and how individuals, managers and executives can foster a culture free of racial bias and bring that culture into broader society. Her presentation was recorded and will soon be available to view.

For more information on the series, please visit: https://businesslaw.business.uconn.edu/equitynow