How HR can get ahead of the president-elect’s agenda

Barring a dramatic turn that upends the 2020 presidential election results, the incoming Biden/Harris administration certainly will usher in new issues for employers to consider, according to a new report from PwC.

“The election provides clear outcomes on measures that directly impact business and the workforce,” says New York City-based Bhushan Sethi, global people and organization leader at PwC.

The report focuses on the new administration’s 2021 priorities list, topped by a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. Sethi says PwC will be watching several fronts at the start of a new legislative year, but especially expects initiatives urging corporate America to redouble its efforts related to diversity and inclusion, wages, job creation, immigration, and environmental and governance matters.

Related: COVID, healthcare will be top of mind for HR with Biden presidency

And although some state-based legislation that passed on Election Day might appear at first blush to benefit only employees, Sethi says this legislation—mainly retaining gig economy business models in California and increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Florida—actually largely benefits businesses.

For instance, the California measure approved to classify workers using gig platforms as independent contractors rather than as employees could make the state an attractive place for businesses to invest and operate, since they have more flexibility in their workforce and cost model.

See also: Paid leave, minimum wage among 2020 election winners

Although the rise of the gig economy reflects many people’s desire for greater choice, variety and flexibility, for others it may be the only way they can secure work.

“A Biden administration could ensure that workers receive the legal benefits and protections they deserve,” Sethi says. “Creating fair employment and building trust is vital and requires diverse views and perspectives.”

Given the increasing attention to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in a time of divisiveness, Sethi says, the new administration is primed to urge business leaders to unite their potentially divided workforces.

“It’s time to come together and focus on common topics of how to lead with purpose, create economic opportunities and jobs for all,” he says, adding that, in order to recover from the pandemic, employers need to double-down on inclusive leadership, poll their people to understand sentiment and take action to accelerate inclusion strategies and improve gender and ethnicity representation.

Sethi says it’s highly likely there will be legislation and/or executive orders that focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace as a way to push corporate America to redouble its efforts with direct action, as well as on issues involving wages, benefits and governance, among others.

Related: Cappelli: How Trump’s D&I order shows the culture war is on

“These initiatives could include metrics on diversity and inclusion of women and people of color, equal pay, and health and safety of workers,” Sethi notes.

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