All posts by Jonathan A. Segal

Jonathan A. Segal

About Jonathan A. Segal

Jonathan’s preventive and corrective approach to employment/HR issues includes counseling, policies, training, agreements and audits. Areas of substantive focus include, for example: gender equality, wage and hour compliance, social media and employee engagement. When Jonathan isn’t counseling employers or dedicating his time to SHRM and the HR community, he can be found volunteering his time and efforts to animal rescue. Jonathan is also mad about Mad Men, writing and speaking on the employment issues arising out of the MadMen Era! Follow Jonathan on Twitter @Jonathan_HR_Law.

The Model Minority Myth and Asian American Heritage Month

I am pleased to share my latest post to The SHRM Blog.

It is Asian American Heritage Month.  As we celebrate the many contributions of Asian Americans, let’s also bury the “model minority myth.”  The myth hurts Asian Americans and here’s why:

  1. If you are a model minority, you are not likely to get the help that you very well may need.  When we assume all individuals in a group are stellar, the individuals who need support are less likely to get it.
  2. If you are a model minority, then there is an implication that you may be stronger than others.  This can result in bias against individuals who are white or members of other minority groups who, in fact, are stronger when it comes to a particular job opportunity.
  3. With the model minority myth may come higher expectations.  Being good is not good enough.  We expect more:  why isn’t this person as successful “as they should be?”  This may result in bias against Asian Americans because of the inflated expectations.
  4. When individuals talk about Asian Americans as the model minority, there can be a tendency to focus on math and science. This may hurt Asian Americans when they apply for jobs that require strong interpersonal skills such as HR. That is, the myth may create silos for Asian Americans.

Let’s acknowledge how much better our world is because of the contributions of Asian Americans without stereotyping about them in a way that sounds benign but is anything but.

This Blog should not be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to specific factual circumstances.

How Are You Honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day Today?

Every year, I write a blog for SHRM on Holocaust Remembrance. Below, is this year’s post.

Today, April 24, 2017, is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) .

During the Holocaust, more than 11 million human beings were systemically murdered. Plus, millions more died in battle. That includes our brave military forces that sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others.

Of course, every life is a universe. Every loss of innocent life matters equally.

But, the Holocaust had a disproportionate effect on the Jewish community. Six out of nine million European Jews were murdered—the percentage is staggering.

I acknowledge this is personal to me. Most of my family was killed in the Holocaust and that forever informs my worldview.

Those who were saved also informs my worldview. My cousin’s mom was saved by a Catholic Church at great risk to those who were part of its community.

YomHaShoah is a painful reminder for many of us and that pain does not remain at home. HR can help.

One way to do so is simply to post on your Intranet a remembrance statement. You can find words and images all over the Internet.

This is also an ideal topic for a diversity and inclusion program. We can focus on the Holocaust but conclude with a universal message: We cannot tolerate intolerance against any faith, race, ethnicity, etc.

Invite a survivor to speak. Bear witness to someone who did.

There are many ways that HR can remember. I respectfully request that you find a way to do something.

I close by citing Elie Wiesel:

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness. Not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are responsible for what we do with those memories.”

10 Costly Mistakes Business Leaders Make on Twitter

I am pleased to share my latest Entrepreneur article on mistakes business leaders making regarding the use of Twitter.

My profession affords me the opportunity to work and talk with many entrepreneurs and other leaders about social media. Just as important, I observe their use (or nonuse) of social media.

Twitter remains one of the most popular platforms for people to exchange ideas, promote news and express opinions. I’m a social media enthusiast, but my work in employment law makes me all too aware of the risks inherent in these instant-post tools.

My Top 10 list of costliest mistakes might surprise you. Its entries stem as much from underuse as from misuse.

1. Not using Twitter.
Some entrepreneurs and business leaders still believe social media is a waste of time. Respectfully, they are wrong. This means of communication no longer is cutting-edge. It’s mainstream, and Twitter is firmly at its center. Use it to your advantage.

2. Only sharing.
Some leaders have exuberant spirits. They freely share ideas and thoughts. While sharing is wonderful, it’s only part of the equation. Social media is about connecting, not simply spouting or increasing your profile. Every leader should keep this in mind at all times.

3. Retweeting without reading.
Other people retweet articles or posts seemingly without reading the full content. In these circumstances, a user’s comment might not match the source material. Retweeting without understanding the context can be disingenuous. If there’s bias or offensive conduct in the underlying tweet, this practice also can be dangerous.

4. Following only like-minded individuals.
Talk about diversity often centers on gender, race and other groups (or classes) protected by law. But there’s another crucial aspect to consider. Cognitive diversity offers a different perspective or opinion.

Interacting with only like-minded individuals limits your vantage point. Following those with whom you often disagree will expose you to different views and possibilities.

5. Interacting intermittently.
At the risk of overstating it, you need to be a player. There’s so much social media activity that if you put a toe in the water only occasionally, you aren’t likely to make vital connections. You don’t need to tweet every day, but tweeting once a week isn’t enough to keep up your profile.

6. Attacking others.
From time to time, you’ll see something that produces a strong, negative reaction. It is best not to use social media as a way to attack others. There are polite ways to disagree. Just as in interpersonal matters, sometimes the best response is none at all. Why give more light to an idea you believe belongs in the dark?

7. Responding every time you’re attacked.
Anyone on social media who takes a stand has been attacked. If you counter-punch everyone who is critical of your stance, others might see you as thin-skinned. Pick your battles wisely so you aren’t labeled an insecure snowflake. Strength can come from silence as surely as it can from powerful words.

8. Failing to be transparent.
Federal Trade Commission rules require individuals to disclose when they are promoting products or services with which they are identified. For example, if you’re praising an item your employer manufactures, you must provide this disclaimer. Transparency, though, is much more than a question of satisfying FTC regulations. It’s good business.

9. Not separating the personal from the professional.
All business is personal and all politics are local, as the sayings go. In these hyperpartisan times, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone without at least one or two deeply held beliefs.

If you tweet on political issues or other topics that might be seen as controversial, you’d be well-advised to make it clear your views are yours alone — not those of your employer. It’s easy enough to include that distinction as part of your Twitter profile. Here’s an added caveat: Do not include the name of your employer or company. That only solidifies the precise connection you’re trying to avoid.

10. Tweeting only business-related items.
Social media is a pervasive form of mass communication, and you should be thoughtful about what you tweet. But if you spend all your mental energy trying to please everyone, you won’t really connect with anyone.

As you develop your brand, consider sharing your thoughts or posting articles on issues beyond your business focus. In my personal life, I’m very involved in animal rescue, I love Bruce Springsteen, and I’m mad about “Mad Men.” Expressing myself has led to meeting many kindred spirits — some of whom now are clients, too.

10 Keys to Grassroots Advocacy for HR Professionals

I am pleased to share my latest article posted in the SHRM HR Magazine.

Federal grassroots advocacy for HR is just as important as ever in 2017. The issues may change, but the need to support and represent the profession surely won’t. Plus, as former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.”

For example, many ruby red states over the past two elections have raised minimum wages materially by way of the ballot box.

And let’s not forget municipalities. Expect the growing trend of local regulation to increase when it comes to matters such as “ban-the-box” ordinances, mandatory sick pay and predictable schedules.

Regardless of their political leanings, HR professionals must continue to be involved so that their voice is heard on workplace public-policy issues. Here are 10 suggestions to make grassroots advocacy more effective without annoying employers.

1. Follow proposed legislation. First, track bills at the federal, state and local level.

Be careful not to focus only on developments in the states in which you operate. To the contrary, be mindful of developments in other jurisdictions, particularly neighboring ones. Legislation spreads.

2. Evaluate bills critically. Avoid knee-jerk responses. Make sure you read the language of a bill before jumping to conclusions.

In evaluating proposed legislation, focus not only on the intent but also on the foreseeable consequences. Many a bill with laudable intent may produce adverse consequences for the employees it is designed to protect.

3. Know your representatives. The first time you need help should not be the first time you meet your representatives, either at the federal or state level. Get to know them and their staffs before issues arise.

Staff members are key gatekeepers for elected representatives. Treat them with respect—not only because they deserve it but also because if you don’t, you will not get access to their bosses.

4. Educate your elected officials. Advocacy is all about relationships, including with your representatives.

Meredith Nethercutt, senior associate for member advocacy at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), explains it well: “There are only a handful of federal members of Congress who have any kind of background in human resources. That is why sharing your personal stories and testimonials as HR professionals with those elected to represent you in office is so critical. After all, if you don’t speak up to those who are crafting and voting on workplace legislation on behalf of your organization and employees, no one else will do it for you.”

5. Get others involved. Usually, it is not enough for HR professionals to advocate on HR issues. It is important to get others to make the case for you, too.

Consider educating members of your C-suite on why a proposed bill might be helpful or hurtful to HR. See if they want to join in the advocacy efforts.

6. Consider legal issues. Do not forget that whatever you say to a representative is discoverable in a trial. This includes communication that occurs via letter, e-mail and social media as well as verbally.

I think of a letter I once saw that said something to the effect of “There is no way we could comply with this bill if it became law.”

In the hands of a plaintiff’s lawyer, a statement like that could be dynamite.

7. Assess personal dynamics. SHRM needs and appreciates the volunteer work of those engaged in HR advocacy, but you should check with a member of your executive team before getting involved. There may be reasons your employer does not want you to oppose a bill, even though the effects on HR could be negative.

For example, it is possible that the sponsor of the bill is also supporting legislation that would be helpful to the company’s business interests. The last thing you want to hear from your boss is that you have alienated the legislation’s sponsor.

8. Consider the impact on the workforce. When communicating with representatives, remember that what you say could find its way back to the workforce.

Sometimes proposed bills and regulations can cause you to become incredibly frustrated. Feeling aggravated is one thing; saying something that devalues your employees is another.

For example, in opposing the overtime rule, an employer might have been frustrated by the regulation but shouldn’t have said something like, “Our employees will just have to deal with it if we hire more workers to avoid unnecessary overtime.”

Be thoughtful in how you oppose suggested legislation that, on its face, would appear to benefit employees. Focus on the unintended adverse consequences that might apply to the workforce.

[SHRM resource: SHRM Policy Action Center]

9. Be practical. Pick your battles. There may be political reasons not to oppose a bill—if there is virtually unanimous support for it, for example.

Conversely, do not inadvertently give publicity to a bill that is going nowhere.

10. Engage in business meetings. Have a business focus in your meetings with your representatives or their staffs.

Acknowledge the pros and cons of the bill at issue to establish your credibility. Then explain clearly your position and ask for support.

Be prepared with bullet points, be sensitive to the representative’s time, be ready to shorten your pitch, and always be respectful and ethical. Last but not least, make sure to thank the representative for his or her time and always follow up with an e-mail reiterating your gratitude for the meeting and your key points.

“Remember, the crux of your engagement, and of these ongoing interactions with elected officials, is to build solid relationships,” says Mike Aitken, SHRM’s vice president of government affairs.

“While you may differ in perspective and opinion on various issues with your lawmakers, your ability to serve as a trusted and reliable resource to those in public office will be invaluable—now and in the busy months ahead.”

Kindness

I am pleased to share my latest post to The SHRM Blog on kindness and leadership.

I like to read and re-read blogs on leadership. They are helpful reminders on what I need to keep doing (or not doing) and where there are opportunities for personal growth. Although expressed from different perspectives, the articles often cover the same attributes or competencies that we rightfully expect from good leaders.

I am struck by how often we need to be reminded to listen. Sound too basic? If you are preparing your response when someone is talking, you are you fully listening? The answer is NO, and I have to remind myself of this on a regular basis.

And, of course, we are reminded that we need to express our recognition. But, too much attention is paid to recognizing concrete accomplishments and not enough to existential recognition: acknowledging someone exists by saying hello or non-verbally recognizing their presence.

I am glad to see more articles/blogs focus on caring. If you don’t care for your employees, they won’t care for you. So, some of our caring, if we are honest, in self-serving. .

But absent from the blogs that I have read is one attribute that feels endangered in our fast-moving, highly-polarized and sometimes cruel world: kindness. By kindness, I mean warm and gentle thoughtfulness with no expectation of a return on investment.

A casual smile. Picking up coffee for a colleague. Pulling back when you know someone needs space. Leaning in when you sense someone needs to talk. Asking someone if they are feeling better. Looking the person in the eyes with attention and not agitation.

We all have heard the expression “random acts of kindness.” That we need to be reminded to do them randomly speaks to their deficit in the ordinary course.

Being kind to people means more than caring about their concerns or appreciating their contribution. It means truly recognizing the humanity of a colleague without thinking about how what you do may benefit you.

As leaders, we need to do more than perform random acts of kindness. Kindness needs to be in our DNA. That does not mean being weak. And, it does not mean avoiding hard decisions. One of the best HR people with whom I have the pleasure to work was thanked after she terminated someone. The terminated employee thanked her for her kindness.

The antithesis of kindness is bullying. When I see bullies, I see weak snowflakes – those who can feel good about themselves only when they make others feel less than them.

When I see kindness, I usually see strength, someone strong and secure enough that they can risk being and being seen as more gentle. And that leads to the ultimate question: are you strong enough to be kinder?

Women’s History Month and the Need for More Male Allies

I am pleased to share my latest post to the SHRM blog.

This month, we focus on the contributions women have made, including in medicine, law, business, and literature.

But we must do more than recognize these contributions. We must acknowledge that, at least in the business world, the talent women offer is grossly under-utilized and painfully undervalued.

Late last year, a study on gender and leadership conducted jointly by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. was published. According to the study, women account for only 19% of the C-suite executives (based on responses from 132 companies).

The numbers are even more distressing if one focuses narrowly on Fortune 500 companies. The percentage of female CEOs dropped in 2016 to only 4-percent. Yes, 4% (even though women are approximately 50% of workforce).

Needless to say, women are grossly underrepresented at the top. And, that hurts women more directly but men too, because companies indisputably do better when there is gender (and other) diversity at the top.

On the same day as the study was released, the Wall Street Journal published an article written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg “Women Are Leaning In—but They Face Pushback.”As almost everyone knows, Sandberg wrote (3 years ago) the ground-breaking book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

When Sandberg wrote Lean In, she acknowledged the obstacles women who want to lead face. She chose to focus more heavily on how women can navigate these obstacles.

In her WSJ article, Sandberg focuses on the wall women hit when they lean in (a meme for “go for it if you want it.”) Citing the McKinsey/LeanIn study, Sandberg states: “women who negotiate are 67% more likely than women who don’t [negotiate] to receive feedback that their personal style is “intimidating,” “too aggressive,” or “bossy,” and they are more likely to receive that kind of feedback than men who negotiate.”

This is consistent with what Sandberg wrote in Lean In:

  • “She is very ambitious is not a compliment in our culture.”
  • “Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty.”
  • “When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women.  When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.”
  • “But since women are expected to be concerned with others, when they advocate for themselves or point to their own value, both men and women react unfavorably.”

Sandberg’s article is a clarion call for companies to do more. In this blog, I want to narrow the focus: men must do more. And, women’s history month is a great time for men to kick into action.

Too often the burden of eradicating gender bias is left to women. This is wrong in so many ways.

Women and men alike are hurt by gender bias. Why should women alone tackle the problem?

Mentoring and sponsoring is essential, yet, in many organizations, the responsibility as it relates to women is placed almost solely on women. This investment in others diverts women in or near leadership from their own goals. Why should women bear this responsibility alone?

Also, men have a perspective that is needed to tackle the problem. Gender diversity is a “plus” and that includes in tackling gender bias.

We need more male allies. Of course, that means at looking at systemic issues. For example, men need to acknowledge the gender pay gap and work to close it. Denying the gap is as credible as denying labor pains.

But, guys, you can’t do that in one day. But there are a lot of things you can do every day “in the moment.” Here are but a few examples:

  • Continue to call out successes by men who work for and/or with you.  But make sure you do the same for women and with the same enthusiasm.  If you are aware that unconsciously this may not be your proclivity, you can consciously overcome the bias.
  • If you begin to think that a woman is too assertive, pushy, bossy (get the picture?), focus on what she is doing and then ask yourself:  how would I react if Jim rather than Jane were engaging in this behavior?  Again, with conscious awareness of the potential unconscious double standard, you can overcome it.
  • Use your voice to speak loud and often about the business benefits of gender diversity.  Yes, it is a moral issue, but money talks so talk money.
  • Speak up when you hear assertive women called “bitch” or worse.  To ignore is to condone.  There is no such thing as a passive bystander if you are a leader.
  • Engage in cross-gender sponsorship and mentorship.  Where men hold disproportionate power, this is necessary for women with potential to have access to power. Plus, you will learn as much as you impart. Don’t wait for a formal program. Time is of the essence.

Women’s history month is about men, too. It is an opportunity for men to commit to do more to increase equality, and with that, the profitability of their organizations.

Pal, will you make this commitment?

This blog is not legal advice, should not be construed as applying to specific factual situations or as establishing an attorney-client relationship.

The Oscars Tragedy and You

I am pleased to share my latest post to the SHRM blog.

I watched in anticipation Sunday night as the of the best movie of the year was about to be revealed. l was pulling for Fences or Lion so I knew they would not win.

And, then Bonnie and Clyde, also known as Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, announced the movie of the year. Beatty looked confused, knowing something was wrong. He showed the card to Dunaway, who blurted out La La Land.

The winning team went on stage and happily accepted the award. But there was background noise. And, soon, the reason became clear.

Not all was la la in La La Land. A mistake had been made. The real winner was announced: Moonlight.

Now, we are not dealing with an amateur production. We are dealing with the Academy Awards. And, a big mistake was made on the biggest award on the biggest night in Hollywood.

What happened:

1. The Academy immediately corrected the mistake.
2. The La La Land team graciously announced the Moonlight winners.
3. The Moonlight winners graciously talked about sharing the stage with the La La Team

Our work lives are not choreographed like the Academy awards. We must respond “in the moment” without cue cards or rehearsals.

And, yes, we make mistakes, too. Most importantly, that includes those who work with us but, in their eyes, for us.

Some delighted in the Academy’s mistake. I delighted in the honesty and grace by which it was handled.

You might want to think about that the next time an employee makes a good faith mistake. Their mistake is a test of your grace.

Getting To NO in the New Year and Shark Tank!

I am pleased to share my latest article posted to TalentCulture.

We all know we need to say NO at times. Otherwise, every YES that should be a NO risks resulting in a NO that should be a YES down the road. But saying NO can be incredibly hard.

Saying yes all of the time, is not simply people pleasing, although that is a piece of it. It is also the fear of a lost opportunity, and all that could flow from it.

So before discussing some suggestions on how to say NO, let me tell you the 3 biggest mistakes I see:

1. Non-Responsiveness

Of course, you cannot respond to every e-mail or phone call with someone trolling for business. But what if you have a business relationship with someone and that includes an internal colleague.

Not responding, repeatedly, may feel like existential bullying. “You don’t even recognize that I exist.”

It may be even worse if there is selective non-responsiveness. It may be seen as cowardice or arrogance. I am uncomfortable responding so I won’t, or I will respond when I want.

Too busy to respond? Perhaps you need to think a little more about relationships and not just tasks.

2. Short Response: NO

Many of us have heard the expression, NO is a complete sentence. But whether it is an effective sentence is a different story.

Do you have to tell someone why? No.

Do you want to build or maintain a relationship? Then the “why” is important.

3. Too Much Detail

As bad as just saying NO is to explain all the reasons why is also bad.

I can’t because (followed by every possible reason).

Three problems with this:

First, it takes too long to read or listen.

Second, it may come off as whiny.

Third, it may invite negotiations. “Isn’t what I have asked you to do more important than….?”

So how do you say NO?

I was thinking about this as I watched Shark Tank. Pay attention to how you feel when each shark says NO.

Mr. Wonderful can be anything but. At times, his NOs are just plain mean.

Sometimes he attacks the idea. Other times, he attacks the person.

No negative consequences for him because the objects of his attacks leave the shark tank and connect no more.

But what if you want or need to work with someone after the NO? More lessons from Shark Tank follow.

While the other sharks are good at saying NO, particularly Robert Herjavec, none is as good as Lori Grenier, in my opinion. So, after many episodes, I have broken down what I call the Grenier approach to saying NO.

1. Acknowledges the Value/Need

Lori always, or almost always, says something positive about the proposal initially.

Let’s go outside the tank. Try this: Appreciate what you are doing and/or asking.

A few kind words never hurt. Kindness is under-valued.

2. Explains why it does not work for her

Lori does not attack the person or the product.

She explains why it won’t work for her.

Outside the shark tank, consider:

– I appreciate your need but we don’t have the money in the budget.
– I like your idea but I don’t have the time with other commitments.

3. Wishes the person luck

After saying she is out, Lori invariably wishes the person luck. Yes, you can be tough and kind!

Sometimes wishing the person luck works outside the shark tank, too. “I cannot participate but wish you luck with X.”

Sometimes you will need to go further if it is an internal colleague: “I cannot do this now but I would love to help when I can.”

Making NO Comfortable for You to Say

You need to say NO. But you need to do so in a way that does not antagonize or worse.

You want to say NO that conveys respect. Watch Lori Grenier on Shark Tank to hone your skills.

I appreciate your reading this short blog.

I have other commitments so I must stop.

But I wish you luck in saying NO to tasks in way that says YES to the relationship.

Love, Lust and Valentine’s Day

I am pleased to share my latest post to the SHRM blog.

There were times when I cautioned HR to keep a firewall between Valentine’s Day and the workplace. The reason for the caution is the initial purpose of Valentine’s Day.

We all know that the initial purpose of Valentine’s Day was for individuals to express their love to those whom they love in a non-platonic way. I was tempted to say romantic, but I once had a manager deny there was any romantic relationship because “it was only sex.”

Over time, however, the meaning of Valentine’s Day has changed. Just look at cards to parents, grandparents, kids, etc. There is no sexual message.

Many employees acknowledge the day too by simply saying “have a nice Valentine’s Day.” I don’t think they mean: “I want you here and now.”

And, some managers will bring in Valentine’s candy or other treats. I don’t think they have any predatory motive.

So, I am not sure it is reasonable to say Valentine’s Day has no place in the workplace. Does that not make an employer seem excessively restrictive? And that may have an unintended effect of undermining critical restrictions.

But here are 8 guard rails to consider as we approach Valentine’s Day:

  1. Okay to say Happy Valentine’s Day. I would avoid happy V.D.
  2. Better to say Happy Valentine’s Day to a group than an individual. You don’t want anyone to feel singled out.
  3. Be thoughtful not only on what you say but also how you say it. An accompanying wink can make earnings disappear in a blink.
  4. Managers should be more careful if, when and how. Perhaps respond only but don’t initiate.
  5. Managers should never send a card, e-mail or social media message to a subordinate over whom they have direct or indirect authority. Most certainly the card should not include an audio of I Honestly Love You.
  6. Never ask anyone who their Valentine is or whether they have one, unless you want to be a defendant.
  7. Any food you might bring in can be shared without fanfare. Don’t need to say anything. The food will speak for itself.
  8. Remember, not everyone has a “Valentine” in the traditional sense. While not having an intimate partner is not a “protected group,” such individuals are human beings who matter. Be thoughtful on how such individuals may feel when we share what is a common bond to most but not all.

The business world is becoming painfully competitive. Sometimes businesses get lost in defining and crowing about their cultures without genuinely caring for people who compose it.

No, HR does not need to coddle employees, but we need to help bring back some of the warmth in our workplaces that has been replaced by an increase in harassing behaviors, bullying and political infighting.

That we need to be careful on Valentine’s Day not to send intended to unintended romantic messages does not mean that our workplaces would not benefit if our words and actions manifested the love we feel in our hearts.

If you share metaphorically a little love in your heart:
And the work world will be a better place
And the work world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Protect Employees From Trump’s Immigration Executive Order

I am pleased to share my latest post to Entrepreneur.

On Friday, President Trump issued an executive order that:

  1. Suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days;
  2. Bars Syrian refugees indefinitely; and
  3. Blocks entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. The countries are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen

Four federal judges have blocked implementation of at least parts of the Executive Order. Even so, it appears the Administration will continue to enforce the Executive Order.

This is not a political but a business blog, so I will not focus on the issue of refugees, but focus solely on what the Executive Order means for employers relative to employees who have green cards or other foreign nationals who are lawfully working for them.

On Sunday, the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the Executive Order is not intended to apply to green card holders. Even so, it is not clear that this is the President’s position. Nor does it appear consistent with ongoing enforcement actions. Even if the Executive Order does not apply to green card holders, there are other foreign nationals lawfully working in the United States on temporary visas. Among the issues for employers to consider are the following three:

1. You can’t be certain employees who travel will be allowed to return.

Employers should not require (or even permit) employees with green cards or other visas from the seven designated countries to engage in business travel outside of the United States. If an employer requires or permits work-related travel outside of the United States as part of their jobs, at least two bad things may happen.

First, on a strictly business level, these employees may not be allowed to return to provide service to their employers. On a more personal level, these employees may be separated from their families and other loved ones. Caring for employees must go beyond work.

2. Educate affected employees about the risk of personal travel.

Employers cannot prohibit personal travel and you wouldn’t want to anyway. Indeed, a foreign national from one of the seven nations may have the legal right under the Family and Medical Leave Act to return to Iran to care for a parent with a serious health condition.

However, employers should consider talking about the risk of traveling outside the United States for those who hail from the seven countries covered by the Executive Order. But employers need to be careful how this is done. Even if well intended, a “rounding up” of employees from these seven countries to discuss the issue can lead only to greater anxiety and more. Plus, employees not from the seven countries may care about the issue, too.

Consider a communication to all employees. Analogy: if there is a new child care benefit, you would not announce it only to those known to have children.

3. Do you take a position?

We often have heard it said there are two topics we should try to avoid: politics and religion. Well, they are now the elephants in the corporate living room, and I am not sure employers can or should entirely avoid them.

A number of large technology employers have condemned the Executive Order. What should you do? Regardless of your politics or presidential vote, this Executive Order may negatively affect you as an employer. It already has increased anxiety among foreign nationals from the seven-targeted majority-Muslim countries.

At a very minimum, leaders are well advised to make clear that they will do what they reasonably can to protect their employees. An example of this may be, not putting employees at risk by sending them out of the country until this issue is resolved. Do not expect a quick resolution.

Some employers may want to go further and express their personal views. In doing so, employers are best to focus on the Executive Order and not the President who signed. it. Said otherwise, focus on the business issue. Some may conclude silence on the “political” issue is best. Fair enough. But sometimes the sounds of silence echo the loudest.