Show Notes: Episode 40 – U.S. Immigration Update
October 22, 2018
Show Notes: Episode 41 – What HR People Need to Know About Retirement Plans
November 5, 2018

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.

JoDee 0:08
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workspace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and also an author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.” With me is Susan White, a national HR consultant.

Today we are having a discussion on a very hot topic, the current state of affairs on U.S. immigration policy from the perspective of U.S. employers. This topic, by the way, was requested by one of our listeners, so please share with us your ideas for future topics as well. And with us today is our expert, because Susan and I definitely need an expert on this topic…

Susan 0:55
We do!

JoDee 0:57
…is Jenifer Brown. Jenifer is a partner with Ice Miller and practices exclusively in the area of immigration law and serves as vice chair of the firm’s labor, employment, and immigration practice group. She helps companies secure temporary and permanent work permission and residence in the United States. She also counsels clients on I-9 employment verification and e-verify. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the National Association of College and University Attorneys, and the Employment Law Alliance. She is a regular speaker at professional associations including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human Resources. She just recently spoke, by the way, at our and has spoken for several years, at our HR Indiana SHRM conference. And she speaks on various immigration and workplace disruption topics. Jenifer is active in her community, serving on the board of directors for the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, a pro bono legal clinic, and Big Car, a public arts and community placemaking organization, as well as involvement in her parish at St. Jude Catholic Church.

Jenifer, we met about 12 years ago when I was the director of HR for a public accounting firm and we were hiring new international college graduates and interns, and I sought your much needed counsel on this process and working with them to obtain their H-1B visas. At least for me, it was a complicated process back then, and that, that, well, what’d I say, 12 years ago, so that would have been about 2006. And I wonder, even though, obviously, there’s a lot more publicity and conversations and news media around immigration, I wondered is the process itself actually more complicated or is it simpler or is it, has it stayed the same?

Jenifer 3:05
Great question, and hard to believe that we started working together 12 years ago. And thank you, by the way, both of you, for having me on today. I’m really excited about our topic and spending some time with you this afternoon. So I would say that the basic framework of our immigration system has more or less remain the same, which isn’t really a good thing. That tends to be the universal theme on immigration policy. It simply isn’t nimble enough to keep pace with the economy. There weren’t enough H-1B numbers, as you may remember in 2006, to last the entire year, and it’s even worse today. Unfortunately, we now have about 200,000 applicants for new H-1B status each year upon the opening of the filing window every April 1, and only about 85,000 spots available that’s been set by Congress. So it is, April Fool’s Day brings new meaning for us in our practice, April Fool’s Day, every one waiting around to see how many applicants we’re going to see an each year’s H-1B quota. I would say in addition to a policy that’s not keeping pace with our economy, our immigration system continues to be the same complicated bureaucratic maze that you might remember. Pretty great for lawyers, not much good for anyone else, unfortunately. And this maze continues to be inconsistent of statute, regulation, and policy. And you might remember some of that. There’s a lot of discretion at the agency level within the immigration system, and today’s modifications that are taking place have unfortunately only complicated and confused and, frankly, surprised some of us in this area. There’s been some intended consequences of these changes and some unintended consequences. Then add to the mix, we’ve got three federal agencies, all of which touch on U.S. immigration policy: the Department of Homeland Security, of course, but also the Department of Labor and the Department of State. So a lot of hands in the mix.

JoDee 5:14
Right.

Susan 5:15
I think this topic is really important for the HR people listening as well as business leaders listening today. I can’t tell you over the years, how many times I would have managers walk into my office and say, “Hey, Susan, the the best candidate I’ve got isn’t a U.S. citizen, so can you get that whole visa thing started?” And I’d look at them and I’d say, like, “Let’s sit down and schedule time to talk about this process and what it’s going to cost.” So anyway, I’m so delighted that you’re here to help educate all of us on this very important topic today. Can you tell us a little bit maybe about your practice? What exactly do you, Jenifer, do and most immigration attorneys do?

Jenifer 5:55
Yeah. I would say our immigration practice is pretty typical of an employment sponsored or employer focused immigration practice. So we primarily represent companies, helping them navigate through the immigration process, whether it’s for short term work authorization for critical talent or long – and/or longer term immigration sponsorship, green card sponsorship, and the like. We’ve got a team of four, and hopefully soon to be five, attorneys in our practice, in addition to three paralegals and three legal assistants. So right now we’re a team of 10, all focused exclusively on this practice area. It has grown but we have a really just tremendous, focused, diligent, and caring group of people that live in this world each and every day. Our employer clients really spread across a wide spectrum of industries. We have clients in the tech space, of course, but also healthcare, colleges and universities, retail, manufacturing, even religious institutions, you name it. The need for sophisticated talent is far and wide. And we’re just… we just aren’t meeting those demands through the domestic workforce. So we see the need for immigration, employment sponsored immigration, across a wide spectrum of industries. The foreign national talent that we’re emigrating, certainly have a lot of engineers, but also doctors, data scientists, other scientists, researchers, and even high-level management. So our U.S. immigration system is very much focused on the highly skilled part of the economy. That’s who it is, primarily, that we’re working with, helping employers navigate to get that critical talent working in the U.S.

JoDee 7:45
And is… I thought it was interesting, I guess, not surprising, but I hadn’t actually thought about it. I think many of us in college realize that a lot of professors are foreign or, you know, come from an another country at some point in their career, whether they lived here or, or came here to work. Is that because the universities are, are they not able to find people in the U.S. with the skills and experiences they need?

Jenifer 8:16
Yeah, I think that’s typically the experience, whether we’re talking about colleges and universities bringing in foreign faculty, if we’re talking about other U.S. employers sponsoring foreign nationals. My experience very much has been the U.S. employers’ preference is to hire local workforce, local talent, because foreign national sponsorship is complicated, it’s expensive, it requires hiring an attorney to help navigate through this process. So by and large, employers very much have a preference, a built-in preference, I would say, to hiring through the domestic talent pool. But we see, unfortunately, time and again, we just don’t have enough domestic employees to fill needs in certain areas, and we do tend to see it in areas of STEM. We continue to not focus enough, we have not made a national priority of STEM or STEAM education – we’re throwing in arts now – in this country, and so we’re seeing the need, the ongoing need for decades and decades now of needing to recruit from abroad to help fill those critical, those critical areas.

Susan 9:31
I’m so excited to learn about the A in STEAM. I’ve been so used to STEM, so thank you. And when you say arts, is it for… when you say arts, is it like music, painting, like, what type of arts would that include?

Jenifer 9:45
Yeah, that’s my understanding. And I wouldn’t necessarily we’ve seen that translate into the need from an immigration policy perspective, but I’ve – have seen more recent reference to STEAM as opposed to just just STEM, and I think it probably is coming primarily from this interest in appreciating and understanding the need for critical thinking but also design background as we’re thinking about a new economy that’s beyond, you know, as we see automation continue to sort of come come to fruition, the need for humans to create design to be an essential element of a new economy. So I think that that’s part of the emphasis on, on adding arts to the traditional areas of STEM.

Susan 10:34
Yeah, that makes sense with the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence and all of that, makes sense. So, Jenifer, it’s so interesting, I think, that your specialization in immigration. What got you started in this field? Anything personal, or was it just an area that you saw was really where they needed more legal expertise?

Jenifer 10:53
Yeah, it – to be quite honest, probably by accident, although nothing’s quite an accident, right? So I always knew that I wanted to do something international. I’ve always been sort of drawn to the unexpected and something different and something beyond the status quo, probably even as a child. So I had interned for Senator Richard Lugar in Washington, D.C. one summer when I was in college and got connected with a legislative aide there, Ellen Whitt, who’s now at Marian University doing really great things with that institution. And so after college, I… throughout college and after college, I maintained – this is a good networking story, by the way – I maintained some connection with, with Ellen, and mind you, this was pre-LinkedIn, and probably even pre-email if I… so I actually probably picked up the phone and called her on it. You know, really, really old school.

JoDee 11:51
Oh my goodness!

Jenifer 11:51
This would have been mid 90s, so I was thinking about that, I probably really did just call Ellen, and so I was getting ready to start law school but really wanted some work for the summer. And so I reached out to Ellen, who I just had a great connection with during my internship with the senator’s office. And she said, “Yeah, you know, I know a lawyer who’s looking for some help. I don’t know really what it is, or frankly, even what he does, but he does some work from time to time for the senator when he’s in town, so I’ll get you connected.” “Okay, great.” So I meet this individual, Paul Gresk, who’s still practicing here in the city. And, and so he hired me, and he practiced at that time, and still does, immigration law. So I worked with Paul, loved it so much that I actually changed my law school election from a day program, which I had been admitted to and was supposed to start that fall. But I really liked working and I really liked the work that we were doing with the immigration community, and so I changed my election, ended up going to law school at night so I could keep working. In fact, truth be told, and…in all fairness, I much preferred working than I did any aspect of law school. But I was highly suspicious that this was actually meant to be my calling, right, that how do you just sort of fall into this thing even before law school that you’re meant to do forever, so being the suspicious soul that I am, I actively sought out other areas of the law kind of throughout law school and, you know, worked for a lot of different kinds of attorneys. We lived in Utah for a little bit, actually, finished my law degree out west. And so I dismissed a whole lot of areas of the law that I just thought weren’t right for me and ended up back in immigration and really haven’t looked back since. It’s been a really remarkable fit for me, it, you know, I’m, I’m naturally curious, and so getting to have these experiences from people all over the world just continues to feed my soul. Helping HR professionals navigate this complicated maze, while frustrating at times, never really gets old. And, you know, advocating for responsible immigration policy, you know, that sort of speaks to something that I feel that I need to advocate for. So it ticks a lot of boxes. It’s – my dad’s an engineer by trade, and so it’s also a very linear process, you know, we’re trying to help people get from point A to point B. And so I think the sequence and just the movement through this system, I think, fills a need for me as well, so that’s why I keep at it. But it’s really the people, of course, I mean, people are people all over the world, no matter where they are, no matter where they’ve come from.

JoDee 14:41
That’s right. That’s right. Great story. So how has your immigration practice evolved, or – well, not only your practice, but the immigration policy itself evolved over the last 20 to 25 years you’ve been practicing?

Jenifer 14:57
Yeah, you know, I – in some ways, a lot has stayed the same. I’m still telling employers to hire domestically first. You really shouldn’t be sponsoring foreign nationals unless you really have to and need to, and there’s a lot of good policy reasons for that. We’re still navigating a complicated and really zero tolerance system. Unlike my litigation colleagues, I don’t get to amend filings, so it’s, it’s a heavily bureaucratic zero tolerance environment, and so we’re still working within a very limited system with pretty limited short and long term immigration solutions. I would say what’s changed in the last couple of years is the rhetoric and a normalizing of what, frankly, had been some pretty extreme perspective on the role of the immigrant community within our economy and in our neighborhoods. You know, I began doing this work in 1994, before law school, and so… and really started practicing formally in the late 90s, so I was – I’ve been practicing through the tech boom of the late 90s, which, by the way, Congress did temporarily recognize the need for additional H-1B professional workers and raise the quota for a couple of years, but it still didn’t meet the demand in our economy. And I was also practicing in this area during 9/11, and through our post 9/11 environment, we required certain foreign nationals at that time to participate in this special registration process, and for those that were affected by that program, it was an inconvenience, but it was done with such dignity and respect that our clients understood that they were within unique times and circumstances. And, and I got to see, for better and for worse, the downturn of the economy in 2008, but I would say even throughout that time, we still very much had a critical need and high demand for foreign national talent. It’s not like we all of a sudden started pushing STEM education in the ways that we would have needed to to address those needs, so even through the downturn in the economy, still very much a robust immigration practice and need for foreign talent. And now during the Trump era, which, frankly, has been unlike anything I’ve seen before. So I like to think that throughout this time, I have some perspective and broader context for the ebbs and flows of the economy and the contributions from the immigrant community that I can say unequivocally that regardless of people’s education levels or where in the world they call home, immigrants want the same things that we all want: safety and security, homes and schools for their families, good employers offering fair wages. And so I’m hopeful that the season that we’re currently in is just that and that maybe it’s a necessary test to confirm and solidify what all of us value in the U.S.

JoDee 17:56
Right. You know, it’s interesting, too, Jenifer, as I think about what you’ve told us so far, that most of your work and H-1B visas are going towards the highly skilled workforce, yet really, what we hear most about, I think, is, is the unskilled labor and the need for so many companies and organizations to hire unskilled workers to work in the fields or to fill those entry-level labor jobs. Do you do work with that side of it too, or what are, what are these companies doing that, that aren’t able to find employees and yet there’s a population that wants to work in those areas?

Jenifer 18:45
Yeah, so, so the other side of the coin here is, is… and my connection to it really comes through I-9 employment verification, and so my work is counseling employers on who their workforce is and are they authorized for employment, are the documents that they have presented to you sufficient to meet and to comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act. But the answer, of course, is no, we don’t have enough people to fill those positions. And that, in fact, that’s one of the misconceptions, I would say, about our immigration system, is that there… this, there is this misconception that there’s a line for, for every intending immigrant to get into. You know, we talk – we hear sometimes in the rhetoric, “why don’t people just get in line?” Well, there isn’t a line for unskilled, semi-skilled labor. Our employment based system is inadequate for our workforce demands, and more or less unavailable to unskilled and semi-skilled labor. There are virtually no paths for that kind of workforce, and when you couple that with an unemployment rate that’s very, very low, and little desire for Americans to fill those really challenging and dirty – and often they are literally dirty – jobs, you can see how we have about 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. And by the way, that number has been stagnant at about 11 million since 2005. So this, this fear and this undertone that undocumented immigrant population is just growing and growing and growing, the facts just don’t bear that out. It has stagnated over the last more than a decade at about the same 11 million. I don’t – now, we can’t say, obviously, that it’s the same 11 million right now. There might be some… there might – we might be moving the, the parts and the people around, but it’s still stagnated at about 11 million undocumented, and I think that’s a reflection of the lack of visa paths for unskilled, semi-skilled labor.

Susan 21:02
So – yeah. Jenifer, what are some other common misconceptions about our immigration system?

Jenifer 21:09
I think another one is, we hear a little bit lately about something that’s been referred to as “chain migration,” and what that reference is to, really, is family sponsored immigration. And the truth is that a lot of our unskilled and semi-skilled labor is actually coming through the family based system, because there are not sufficient paths through the employment based system to bring in unskilled, semi-skilled labor. Some of those jobs are actually being filled by legal immigrants through the family based system, maybe also through the diversity lottery system, also through our refugee and asylum populations that have a number of people here through temporary protected status, which the President has called to eliminate, even for some countries that have enjoyed temporary protected status since the late 90s, so some of that labor force is being filled through the legal immigrant community, but not in the way you might think, because it’s not the employment basis, it’s all these other things. But back to this concept around chain migration, there, there’s this imagery of for every immigrant we allow into the country, there’s almost a swarm of family members that are permitted to come with the, the single foreign national immigrant that’s been sponsored through whatever channel we’re talking about. And that’s just not accurate. There are actually very, very long lines within the family based immigration system, other than parents and spouses. So the family based system, in its most simplest forms, does permit a faster path for parents and spouses of U.S. citizens, for instance, but beyond that, for someone to be able to sponsor extended family members, we really are talking about decades. So even for a foreign national that is sponsored, let’s say, by a U.S. citizen spouse, that foreign national, let’s say now has green card based on the sponsorship from their U.S. citizen spouse, but once the foreign national, now green card holder, wants to emigrate his or her extended family, you know, parents and, and siblings and those kinds of things. And by the way, it’s not aunts and uncles and cousins, the system is still limited to pretty close relationships. But even still, the foreign national green card holder has to wait, depending on how he or she got the green card, three or five years to become a U.S. citizen, and then can sponsor family. So there’s a wait to be eligible to serve as the sponsor, and then there may be a wait for, depending on who it is that the foreign national green card holder, now U.S. citizen, wants to emigrate. So for instance, for someone to have a green card, wait three years to become a citizen, and now he or she wants to sponsor a sibling, the wait might be 5, 15 years to be able to emigrate that sibling. So this, this misconception that for every immigrant that comes into the U.S., immediately broadcasts and casts this net of capturing cousins and aunts and grandparents, it’s just, it’s not what the system provides. And even for the limited relationships that are permitted, there’s a very, very long line that they have to wait through before they’re eligible to sponsor.

Susan 24:48
So helpful.

JoDee 24:49
I feel like I’ve learned so much already, and I – we have a lot more questions.

Susan 24:56
Jenifer, what effect has the President’s travel ban and Buy American, Hire American executive order had on the U.S. employers?

Jenifer 25:05
You know, I think the travel ban in particular set a pretty disturbing tone in the very early days of this administration, and then there was a lot of back and forth. We’re now on our third version of the travel ban, and that seems to be holding strong. I think it created a lot of fear, a lot of paranoia, and a lot of confusion, and we’re still, frankly, kind of picking up some of those pieces today. The current version of the travel ban is something that I think people will have come to grips with. Our particular recommendation on this version is that if you’re from one of the affected countries, even though… probably can travel in limited situations and circumstances, on the whole, our advice is don’t. Stay in the U.S. if you’re already here, and don’t invite that potential scrutiny by a border agent if you don’t have to. But, you know, things happen. People have business needs that require them to travel, people have families abroad, people get sick, and so it’s an unfortunate circumstance, I would say, for certain foreign nationals, but on the whole, currently, I think people are adapting relatively okay. We’ll see. I think the effect was greater in the early days when there was just so much uncertainty, and it was so early in the administration that it seemed to be the tip of the iceberg and in some ways has been. But the Buy American, Hire American executive order directed all federal agencies to protect the American workforce and, and to raise wages and, you know, very brief summary. Those are noble causes and noble interests, but on a practical level, what is meant is federal agencies in every corner of the U.S. immigration system have now been directed to fulfill the President’s mandate to really, frankly, look for ways outside of Congress to restrict an already strict immigration system through policy changes. And so through the BAHA, Buy American, Hire American executive order, we’ve seen the agencies scrutinized more than ever. The H-1B program that I mentioned is already rather strict and highly regulated by both the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security, and there are already a number of provisions that could be enforced, which I think will be and, in some ways, should be for some employers who are just not playing by the rules, of course. But the challenge that a lot of clients, a lot of employers are facing right now are those that very much are in compliance, but are getting pushback from the agencies questioning positions that historically have not been controversial for H-1B sponsorship, and having to rethink whether these positions really qualify. We’ve seen an uptick by about 45% in requests for evidence from the Immigration Service. This is how the Immigration Service asked for additional information, so we’ve always been subject to the potential for getting additional questions from the agency, obviously their prerogative to ask questions as a part of the adjudication process, but for a 45% uptick in those requests is pretty remarkable over a fairly short period of time. The other thing that we’ve seen that I think has had a broad impact… historically, the agency has implemented something called a deference policy, meaning if this is just a routine extension, same employer, same beneficiary, same job, same work location, the agency’s former direction had been, we’re going to defer to our prior adjudication. That doesn’t mean we blanket approve everything, but we’re going to give the prior adjudicating officer the benefit of the doubt. Under the Trump administration, they have eliminated the deference policy, which means every filing that we make, whether it’s the first filing or the 10th filing for that foreign national, is treated as if it’s a brand new filing. And so that, of course, has led to slower processing and, and a lot of uncertainty. Jobs that we thought were stable and secure for H-1B sponsorship, somebody lived here for 12 years, never have had trouble with the H-1B process before, now all of a sudden some can of worms has been opened, and their life is being turned upside down on what may or may not be a technical issue.

Susan 29:48
Yeah. Jenifer, I know this really is your opinion, but given that you’ve worked in the space for so long, I’d be interested. Why do you think the current administration has taken the stances that they have, given that nothing has changed numerically in supply and demand, but they’re forcing these, these kind of issues?

Jenifer 30:04
That’s a really good question, certainly a fair question, and I think it’s something that those of us who practice in this area and have really watched it, kind of, especially through 9/11 and post 9/11, have wondered ourselves. There were things, you know, following the days of 9/11, for instance, that we wondered whether this was the right position to take, but there was this really significant, heart wrenching thing that had transpired on American soil that had never happened before, and of course, there is going to be a reaction. And now we’re in a place where the economy’s doing pretty well, things seem to be leveled off, and of course, we live in a new normal post 9/11, all of us, but there wasn’t anything specific to point to to question our immigration policy and to restrict it in such… in such an aggressive way. You know, I think it’s a political decision, frankly, you know, that’s the only explanation that I can offer. I think that there, there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from the 2016 election. This is one of them. And we could talk all day about that, probably, right?

JoDee 31:19
That’s a whole nother podcast.

Jenifer 31:21
Yeah.

Susan 31:24
I’m not gonna ask you –

Jenifer 31:24
Perhaps we should leave it at that.

Susan 31:26
I agree. Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate that, though. Appreciate your perspective.

JoDee 31:29
What about the ongoing NAFTA negotiations? What, what implications should we be watching for in those?

Jenifer 31:37
It’s something we definitely have our eye on, have some concerns around, you know, given the limited nature of our immigration system, and especially the H-1B visa program, which is the way we emigrate most of our foreign professionals. The TN visa category has, has really, by default, become Plan B for a lot of people, at least for those of Mexican and Canadian descent. So, it’s only available for Canadian and Mexican professionals, and this TN visa category only exists by virtue of NAFTA. So when we talk about potential modifications of our North American Free Trade Agreement, we wonder, you know, what’s going to happen to the TN visa category, it will have a significant impact to our immigration system. There are a number of Canadians and Mexicans who are working in the United States at this very moment only by virtue of the TN visa category, and so if there are modifications to that, you know, we will feel that, we will, we will recognize that impact.

Susan 32:47
What are some things employers can do in managing the needs of their foreign national employees?

Jenifer 32:53
I would say the same thing that good employers do with all of their employees, and that’s to engage with them. And to check on your foreign national population is probably now more critical than, than maybe it’s ever been, making sure foreign nationals who are being sponsored by the company are comfortable with and have an understanding around where they are in their immigration journey and in their immigration process. There are a lot of forums online and elsewhere that the foreign national population tends to gravitate. Some of it’s helpful, some of it’s probably not so helpful. So sometimes the answer is making sure that the foreign national’s comfortable with where they are in the process and connecting them with the company’s immigration counsel, just maybe destroy some of those misconceptions, maybe help explain that, “I understand that you read this about a friend or a colleague or a family member, but that doesn’t apply to your situation because of X, Y, or Z.” And so just allowing people an opportunity and a platform and a venue to talk through those things. There’s a lot of fear out there. And I think it’s really important for people to understand and be comfortable with their immigration path to the extent that we can. And good, competent, trusted immigration counsel ought to be able to talk to both the company and the foreign national population about what they can predict and what they can’t predict. And I’ve always operated very much, given what I know about this immigration system, with Plan B and C and D always ever present for me on every single case I touch. But that’s even more important now, and not only important to have it, but to communicate it. “Here’s what’s going to happen if we get a weird decision. Here’s what’s going to happen if this doesn’t work, then here’s what we’re going to do.” It’s really important for people to be comfortable with that. More tangible things that I think HR specifically could do, although that’s a really important one, what I just described, but other things that are more technical and just important. Make sure that foreign nationals are checking their last admission record. The – there’s an online electronic I-94 admission record that’s maintained through CBP, Customs and Border Protection, so cbp.gov. Encouraging foreign national sponsored employees in particular to be checking their admission records online, making sure they give timely notice to the immigration service when they have a personal change of address. There’s an AR-11 form that they can complete online at uscis.gov. The other thing employers can do generally is have consistent immigration policies, internal company policies about who you’re going to sponsor, when you’re going to sponsor, when foreign nationals will be sponsored by the company for green card. Just having some consistency around that process and good immigration counsel can help navigate those kinds of, of issues and really balance business needs with foreign national needs, and frankly, what’s realistic within our immigration system.

JoDee 36:04
Yeah. Great advice. And Jenifer, I recently heard you speak about your own practice group at Ice Miller, which I thought was a an interesting story for you to share with our listeners, about their diversity and some of their personal experiences with immigration.

Jenifer 36:22
Yeah. So in our current team, we’ve got 10 team members focused on our immigration practice. Half of us are foreign born, and I think I probably mentioned to you that I had sort of this aha moment around that….

JoDee 36:38
Yeah.

Jenifer 36:39
…in the last year. And of course, I knew that about each of them individually. I have, you know, close relationships with everyone on my team, but it was only, you know, I was a little slower on the uptake than I perhaps should have been. But yeah, it was only when I really thought about our collective group that half of us in fact, are foreign born, and we speak – not me, by the way, English is all I have – we speak six languages between us. But the remarkable thing to me about this diversity within our my own practice group, the people that I sit with every day, is the diversity of their journeys. They each have come into this country and traversed very, very different journeys to arrive here, through adoption, through marriage to a U.S. citizen, through a spouse’s employment sponsorship, through a parent’s employment sponsorship, another, I think, through a parent’s marriage that occurred outside of the U.S. and then, you know, one of the parents was a U.S. citizen and then the family came to the U.S. after all. It just reminded me and continues to remind me how how rich our country is because of all these different experiences and, and again, that they’re probably what you and I were talking about, that there really just isn’t and can’t be under our current system a one size fits all solution. Everybody comes at this a little bit differently, in part because we’re human, right, and we have our own experiences. But also, in part, because we have a system that is complicated and not everybody fits into the same journey or path. I think it’s really important, and something that I try to remind myself of is that we all have a story and we’re doing a disservice to ourselves and to our communities if we don’t take the time to listen to those stories about one another, including our immigrant neighbors. And whether they’ve been in the country for weeks or decades, I promise you, you will learn something about their path and about their journey. And through those stories, that’s really how we understand how similar we are to one another as opposed to how different we are. So I just think it’s more important now than ever.

Susan 38:57
Yeah, I agree.

JoDee 38:59
Totally agree.

Susan 38:59
I think it’s so important to create – as you create a JoyPowered® workspace, to have that diversity and that appreciation of the different journeys, so what a great message for our listeners.

JoDee 39:08
Right. Right.

Susan 39:09
Okay, well, Jenifer, we’re so glad you came today. Could you share with us your contact information in case any of our listeners would want to reach out to you for advice in the future?

Jenifer 39:19
You certainly can find me through the firm’s website, icemiller.com, we’ve got a Choose Talent page that’s devoted to the immigration practice, our, our team did a video about a year ago, and we’ve got a lot of resources and tools about the immigration practice on the Choose Talent portion of Ice Miller’s website. Certainly can reach out to me directly by email, Jenifer with one N, J-E-N-I-F-E-R dot Brown, B-R-O-W-N, at Ice Miller, I-C-E Miller dot com, so email’s great. I’m also on LinkedIn. I’d love to hear from you.

JoDee 39:54
Alright, thank you so much.

Susan 39:56
Thank you.

JoDee 39:56
Jenifer, we really – boy, I have learned a lot today.

Susan 39:59
Me too.

Jenifer 40:02
Thank you.

Susan 40:04
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So JoDee, we have a listener question today. It’s from Nancy in Indianapolis. She’s on the board of directors of a nonprofit and their executive director resigned over the weekend. She wondered if they’re required to do an exit interview, and if so, who should do it and what should they ask?

JoDee 40:49
Yeah, so interesting question. Nancy, you are not required to do an exit interview. And by the way, the fact that she’s from a nonprofit doesn’t have any bearing on that. No one is ever required to do exit interviews. Now it’s possible you might have a company policy that suggests that you try to get one or that, you know, maybe you, you do it before they leave or after they leave, but there’s no real legal requirements around that. Who should do it and what should they ask? Well, I think the who should do it is a difficult question. I, I’ve been on both sides of that fence, where I was an internal HR director and did some myself, sometimes I asked other people in our organization. I – in my opinion, it was who can get the most information from them to help help the company learn, you know, what did we do right, what didn’t we do right, why, why are you leaving the organization, and whoever I felt could get the best information from them. Now, now, I’m an external consultant to clients and we have some clients who ask us to do their exit interviews. I think they’re asking us because they think the employee or former employee will be more honest with us than they will the company. I’ll be honest with you, I’m… that doesn’t always happen either, and I don’t always feel like, like an external consultant is the best answer either.

Susan 42:24
So it’s funny, JoDee, I have been hired to go in and do exit interviews of some senior level people, and when I – it has been very effective is when I’m involved in helping them select the next leader.

JoDee 42:35
Yeah.

Susan 42:36
Because it’s really good to hear from the person leaving what didn’t work and what they really liked and made it very much easier for that particular company I’m thinking of to know, to give a realistic job preview…

JoDee 42:37
Right.

Susan 42:45
…to the candidates that we were going to be talking to.

JoDee 42:50
Right. Yeah. So no magic answers there, but definitely no requirements around it.

Susan 42:56
Absolutely.

JoDee 42:58
In our in the news segment, according to a 2018 study from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, employers and workers don’t agree about how friendly the workplace is to older employees. Among the key findings, 82% of employers said the company is supportive of employees working past age 65, but only 72% of the workers agree that their employer is supportive. I always love those polls, when they ask the same question to the company management and then the employees. Also, employers most commonly considered age 70 too old to work, but the workers said that age 75 was too old to work, so they think employees could work longer. And asked what age is too old to hire, employers said age 64.

Susan 43:58
And you know my bent is that it’s never too old to be hired and you should work until the day you want to stop.

JoDee 44:04
I agree. I agree. I think we’re missing out on some, some top talent there. So, Catherine Collison, who is the CEO and president of TCRS, who conducted the survey, suggested that many workers now want and need to extend their working lives to financially prepare for longer retirement. But, of course, they need the support from their employers, which they’re not getting. She also adds that a multi-generational workforce can enhance diversity and inclusivity and foster innovation, and if we don’t adopt business practices that can support workers of all ages, we’re missing out on an important opportunity there. In June of this year, the EEOC issued a report on age discrimination, which I thought was interesting, to go along with the study, that it’s been 50 years since passage of the Age Discrimination Act, but yet they’re finding that age discrimination is still a very significant problem and that despite this five decades of research, they have found that age does not predict ability or performance, and employers are often falling back on precisely these stereotypes the ADEA was enacted to prohibit. The EEOC noted that six in 10 older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workspace, and 90% of older workers said that age discrimination is common.

Susan 45:40
90%.

JoDee 45:41
Yeah, we’ve got some work to do in that area. So.

Susan 45:45
Thank you for listening today, and please tune in next time. If you’ve missed any of our podcasts, you can catch all episodes for free at iTunes, Google Play, Podbean, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts by searching on the word “JoyPowered.” All one word, “JoyPowered.” If you have questions on any HR topic, you can call us at 317-688-1613 or give feedback on our podcast via our JoyPowered® Facebook account or on Twitter @JoyPowered. We welcome listeners questions and comments. Thank you.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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