WIT: The Impact of Job Automation on Women in Tech

Machines are taking our jobs. Researchers at Oxford have analyzed the skill sets required for more than 700 jobs to determine which of them will be most susceptible to automation. They concluded that in the next few decades, over 47% of the jobs we have today will likely be taken over by machines. we can take some comfort in the fact that growth is predicted in ways we cannot likely conWomen Telephone Operators at Workceive of today, another side of this story is the disproportionate effect job automation will have on women.

Our workforce continues to be divided along gendered lines. For example, according to the US Census Equal Employment Opportunity  Tabulation, 95% of the truck drivers in the US are men and 95% of secretaries and administrative assistants are women. Men hold 97 percent  of U.S. construction and carpentry jobs, and women hold 93 percent of the registered nurse positions. While traditional male job categories like transportation are expected to take a hit, sectors that employ the most women, such as customer service, office support, sales and administration, are expected to be hit harder.

Women are also expected to be disproportionately affected by the job growth in more male dominant sectors. Growth is expected in the STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as well as in fields such as architecture.  According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, women hold just 11% of worldwide jobs in architecture and engineering and just 23% of jobs in computing and mathematics. According to the World Economic Forum, “women stand to gain only one new STEM job for every 20 lost across other job families, whereas the ratio for men is one new job for every four lost elsewhere.”

The efforts to support and encourage women in tech are critical to address both the current and potential future trends.  Technology itself will otherwise undermine the number of jobs women hold in the STEM fields.  It is not enough to suggest merit will take care of the problem – the historical problem is much deeper and sophisticated than mere hiring quotas.  Creating communities and workplaces where women feel they genuinely belong and are able to contribute meaningfully will help keep women in tech once they get there.

Examples such as the Women in Tech meetup at WPC in July are opportunities to send your women employees to important career and company growth initiatives.  I’ll be there, and look forward to connecting with women entrepreneurs and tech experts.

Microsoft Acquiring LinkedIn: What is the Employee Impact in a Share Transaction?

Guest Post by my colleague, Simone Ostrowski

shoesMicrosoft Corp. and LinkedIn recently announced that Microsoft will soon acquire LinkedIn in a transaction valued at $26.2 billion – click here for the company’s announcement.

Under the deal, Microsoft will purchase LinkedIn’s shares at $196 each. If a share sale like this happened in Ontario, the identity of LinkedIn would not change – Microsoft would simply step in to the shoes of LinkedIn. Microsoft would inherit all employees and employment-related liabilities and obligations of LinkedIn after the deal closed.

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Koldorf Stam at WPC 2016 in July

Toronto skyline - red

WPC in Toronto

This summer, our firm will be hosting a booth at the 2016 Microsoft World Partner Conference (WPC).  We’re excited to connect with many of the 15,000 MS partners from around the globe who will be coming to Toronto July 10-14.  Come and visit us at Booth 1737, near the coffee shop.

Canada has a deep and highly skilled tech talent pool, and our dollar makes scaling out into Canada an attractive option for growing companies.  Our team looks forward to meeting up with business owners who are navigating the complex Canadian workplace law landscape.

We’re a tech-savvy, virtual law firm that speaks the same language as the WPC community.  We love the entrepreneurial passionate that drives so many of the business that will be coming to the annual conference in Toronto this summer.  There are a ton of great speakers and events, and we can’t wait to be surrounded by that energy and the smarts that drives so much of our modern economy.

Feel free to connect with us @koldorfstamlaw or @lisastam if you’re going to be there and would like to meet up!


Manager Ordered Prison Time for Employee Fatalities

This post is a guest blog by Simone Ostrowski, a lawyer at our firm with experience in workplace health and safety matters (@simoneostrowski, sostrowski@koldorfstam.ca). 

photo cretit: Matthew Wiebe via UnsplashOn January 11, 2016, Vadim Kazenelson, a former project manager with Metron Construction, received a three and a half year prison sentence as a result of employee fatalities and injury that occurred under his watch. While Kazelnelson’s sentence is the first of its kind in Canada, it will likely be the first of many prison sentences for managers who do not take reasonable action to prevent injury to employees.

Kazenelson’s sentence stemmed from his failure as project manager to take any action that may have prevented the deaths of four employees and serious injury to another employee that resulted when a swing stage scaffold snapped in half on December 24, 2009. The employees had been standing on the swing stage thirteen stories above ground to repair balconies on a high rise apartment building in Toronto. Only two workers on the swing stage were actually were secured by lifelines, as required by law. While Kazelnelson had known about the lack of sufficient lifelines, he did nothing about it after being told not to worry by Fayzullo Fazilov, the site supervisor. Fasilov also died when the swing stage snapped.

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Tweeting Your Way to Termination

fire hydrantA blog post just in time for some downtime over the holiday – when can personal tweets become grounds for termination?  Some of you may remember when in August of 2013 Canadian news outlets were a-buzz with the termination of two Toronto Firefighters for sexist comments made on Twitter. For a media report on the details of the tweets and reactions, click here.

While the tweets were made off-duty, and not in reference to anything work related, management got involved partly because the Firefighters in question identified themselves as such on their Twitter profiles. The conduct was deemed to be in violation of employer policies, including their Social Media Policy, damaging to the reputation of Toronto Fire and ultimately worthy of termination.

Both individuals grieved their terminations, asking for their jobs back. These two cases are a good example of when tweets can amount to grounds for termination and when reinstatement may be ordered. Continue Reading

Holiday Party Tips for the Young Boss

lampshadeWe all have an office party horror story.  The partner who got too sloppy and friendly with the summer student, the awkward aversion of eye contact the next day, or the overly honest comments from the disgruntled employee.

While holiday parties can be an important employee morale booster, for the employer they can present a minefield of potential liability and complaints. For start-ups and entrepreneurs, the informal culture can particularly be an invitation to indulge and live it up in the name of hipster, relaxed office counter-culture.

Employer host liability, however, applies to all workplaces.  Even if it’s a Saturday night and you’re at a fancy bar, the employee’s right to harassment free work environment extends to off-site employer sponsored events. If your company’s New Year’s resolutions have something to do with avoiding human rights complaints, harassment allegations or claims for social host negligence here are our top tips to get you started on the right path. Continue Reading

Does technology replace or enhance dispute resolution?

settlement by computerWill technology replace or merely enhance our abilities to achieve settlements?  Last week I spoke at an Osgoode Professional Development session on Settlement in the Digital Era: Essentials for Non-Techies.  My co-panelist was Colm Brannigan, a mediator very familiar with Online Dispute Resolution (ODR).  Colm and I have had some good discussions beforehand about how technology can assist the settlement process, whether an informal negotiation between parties or a formal court-ordered mediation.

Ultimately, despite the tech fan and early adopter in both of us, we realised that nothing can replace the human aspect of resolving most disputes beyond a traffic ticket.  For many people, they simply need to physically face their opposing party and ‘have their day in court’.  The emotions in our voice and on our face, the passion of our positions and the human needs that have to be addressed in dispute resolution cannot be completely replaced by technology.

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Privacy Commissioner’s BYOD Guidelines

OPC BYOD GuidelinesI’ve written several posts about BYOD in the past, and continue to believe that for many workplaces, BYOD will be difficult if not impossible to resist. However, it won’t be news to anyone that BYOD raises a full array of privacy and security issues related to the potential blurring and blending of employee personal information and business/customer information on devices.

Recently, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, along with the Alberta and British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioners, have published guidelines to assist organizations considering or implementing BYOD policies.

While the publication does not introduce anything overly novel, it does provide a good roadmap in one document, a roadmap with quite a bit of weight if you are trying to prove your organization did its due diligence around implementing a prudent BYOD program.

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Alert! Blue-Flu Hits Canada

Blue_jayBlue Jays-itis, Blue Jay Fever, the Blue Flu…whatever you call it some sort of strange illness has taken over Canadian workplaces with employees calling in sick, skipping out early or hunched secretively over their computers all in the name of baseball.

I have discussed the issue of sports and impacts on workplace productivity before. With all the excitement, and games taking place during work hours, it seems timely to re-visit the topic.

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Voting Laws for Canadian Employees

While Canadian readers are no doubt aware that we have a federal election coming up, for those who might not be following Canadian politics, a federal election has been called and voting will take place on Monday October 19, 2015.

Fun Facts for American readers

  • Canada is a different country than the United States of America, and we can elect our very own leaders;Harper in front of Parliament
  • Steven Harper is Canada’s current Prime Minister, the Canadian less charismatic equivalent of the current US President.  He has held his office since 2006 and is now running for his fourth term.  Refer to the attached picture of Mr. Harper standing in front of our Legislature;
  • Yes, the guy running for the Liberal Party is the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, not that we have any sort of monarchical tendencies in Canada;
  • Unlike in the US, in Canada there is no limit on the consecutive number of terms a leader can hold the top job.  A political career can go on and on and on, sometimes passed down through generations.


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