26th Annual Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education Meeting
Christopher E. Stevens - Gonzaga University
Back to Normal, but for Whom? The Case of Vickers and Associates
How do you “get back to normal” when not everyone can agree on what is “normal” anymore? For Amy Segura and Jeanine Davis, the answer to this question was essential to bringing their organization – the Boise, Idaho-based public accounting firm of Vickers and Associates – and its employees back to work after the massive disruptions to work and life caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This case profiles the challenges that Vickers faced as it attempted to return to an in-person working environment in the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021. Specifically, we focus on the challenges the pandemic created for women in the workplace – working mothers in particular – and how those challenges created disparate impacts when Vickers made the decision to bring everyone back to the office. The case is presented from the perspective of Amy Segura, Managing Director of the firm, and Jeanine Davis, Vickers’ Office Manager. As the employees of Vickers returned to the office in September of 2020, Amy and Jeanine began to see cracks appear in the community they had tried to build over their last 15 years together. Sick time usage increased, work output from nearly every level of the organization slowed, and there was an abundant sense that things just weren’t the same. Most concerning was the clear burden the pandemic had placed on the mothers that worked at Vickers – especially the moms on the lower-wage accounting and administrative teams. Following the resignation of two key members of those teams – resignations that hinged on the need to balance work with increased responsibilities at home – Amy and Jeanine lobby company president Greg Vickers to change the rules of the workplace for the working moms of Vickers. Greg ensures Amy and Jeanine that he is sympathetic to the challenges faced but is concerned that having two sets of rules will create a double standard at the firm and will undermine the culture that the Vickers family has devoted the last 70 years to building. After completing the case: • students should be able to understand the potential that policies and processes have to create a disproportionate impact on different employee groups; • students should be able to analyze key drivers of disproportionate impact in workplace practices and policies and how they relate to underlying social and cultural divides, and; • students should be able to create policies that are more equitable and sympathetic to the challenges employees face. The scenario discussed in this case is real, as are the participants. The firm’s name, its location, and the names of participants have been changed, at the request of the organization, to provide anonymity.