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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, the court announced. She was 87.Ginsburg was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and in recent years served as the most senior member of the court’s liberal wing consistently delivering progressive votes on the most divisive social issues of the day, including abortion rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights, immigration, health care and affirmative action.Along the way, she developed a rock star type status and was dubbed the “Notorious R.B.G.” In speaking events across the country before liberal audiences, she was greeted with standing ovations as she spoke about her view of the law, her famed exercise routine and her often fiery dissents.She had suffered from five bouts of cancer, most recently a recurrence in early 2020 when a biopsy revealed lesions on her liver. In a statement she said that chemotherapy was yielding “positive results” and that she was able to maintain an active daily routine.Content by CNN UnderscoredNever forget your password again with this award-winning appCNN Underscored partnered with 1Password to create this content. When you make a purchase, CNN receives revenue.”I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” she said in a statement in July 2020. ” I remain fully able to do that.”She told an audience in 2019 that she liked to keep busy even when she was fighting cancer. “I found each time that when I’m active, I’m much better than if I’m just lying about and feeling sorry for myself,” she said in New York at the Yale Club at an event hosted by Moment Magazine. Ginsburg told another audience that she thought she would serve until she was 90 years old.Tiny in stature, she could write opinions that roared disapproval when she thought the majority had gone astray.Before the election of President Donald Trump, Ginsburg told CNN that he “is a faker” and noted that he had “gotten away with not turning over his tax returns.” She later said she regretted making the comments and Trump suggested she should recuse herself in cases concerning him. She never did.In 2011, by contrast, President Barack Obama singled out Ginsburg at a White House ceremony. “She’s one of my favorites,” he said, “I’ve got a soft spot for Justice Ginsburg.”The vacancy gives Trump the opportunity to further solidify the conservative majority on the court and fill the seat of a woman who broke through the glass ceiling at a time when few women attended law school with a different justice who could steer the court to the right on social issues.Ginsburg was well-known for the work she did before taking the bench, when she served as an advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union and became the architect of a legal strategy to bring cases to the courts that would ensure that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied to gender.”I had the good fortune to be alive and a lawyer in the late 1960s when, for the first time in the history of the United States, it became possible to urge before courts, successfully, that society would benefit enormously if women were regarded as persons equal in stature to men,'” she said in a commencement speech in 2002.Once she took the bench, Ginsburg had the reputation of a “judge’s judge” for the clarity of her opinions that gave straight forward guidance to the lower courts.At the Supreme Court, she was perhaps best known for the opinion she wrote in United States v. Virginia, a decision that held that the all-male admissions policy at the state funded Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional for its ban on women applicants.”The constitutional violation in this case is the categorical exclusion of women from an extraordinary educational opportunity afforded men,” she wrote in 1996.Ginsburg faced discrimination herself when she graduated from law school in 1959 and could not find a clerkship.No one was more surprised than Ginsburg of the rock star status she gained with young women in her late 70s and early 80s. She was amused by the swag that appeared praising her work, including a “You Can’t have the Truth, Without Ruth” T-shirt as well as coffee mugs and bobbleheads. Some young women went as far as getting tattoos bearing her likeness. A Tumblr dubbed her the “Notorious R.B.G.” in reference to a rap star known as “Notorious B.I.G.” The name stuck. One artist set Ginsburg’s dissent in a religious liberty case to music.”It makes absolute sense that Justice Ginsburg has become an idol for younger generations,” Justice Elena Kagan said at an event at the New York Bar Association in 2014. “Her impact on America and American law has been extraordinary.””As a litigator and then as a judge, she changed the face of American anti-discrimination law,” Kagan said. “She can take credit for making the law of this country work for women and in doing so she made possible my own career.”

Dissents and strategy

Part of Ginsburg’s renown came from her fierce dissents in key cases, often involving civil rights or equal protection.In 2007, the court heard a case concerning Lilly Ledbetter, who had worked as a supervisor at a Goodyear tire plant in Alabama. Near the end of her career, Ledbetter discovered a pay disparity between her salary and the salaries of male co-workers. She filed a claim arguing she had received discriminatorily low salary because of her sex in violation of federal law. A majority of the court found against Ledbetter, ruling she had filed her complaints too late. Ginsburg wasn’t impressed with that reasoning.”The court’s insistence on immediate contest overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination,” Ginsburg wrote, urging Congress to take up the issue, which it did in 2009.In 2015, it was Ginsburg who led the liberal block of the court as it voted in favor of same-sex marriage with the critical fifth vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy wrote the opinion and it was joined by the liberals who chose not to write separately. Ginsburg was likely behind that strategy and she said later that had she written the majority she might have put more emphasis on equal protection.After the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, Ginsburg was the most senior of her liberal colleagues and she had the power to assign opinions when the chief justice was on the other side.She assigned herself an angry dissent when the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.”The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective,” she wrote. She compared racial discrimination to a “vile infection” and said early attempts to protect against it were like “battling the Hydra.”She also penned a partial dissent in 2012 a case concerning Obama’s health care law disagreeing with the conservative justices that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause. She called the reasoning “crabbed” but was satisfied that Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the fifth vote to uphold the law under the taxing power.Ginsburg puzzled some liberals with her criticisms of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion — a case that was decided well before she took the bench. Although she said she felt like the result was right, she thought the Supreme Court should have limited itself to the Texas statute at hand instead of issuing a sweeping decision that created a target for opponents to abortion rights.She was in dissent in 2007 when the majority upheld a federal ban on a procedure called “partial birth abortion.” She called the decision “alarming” and said that it “tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”She voted with the majority, however, in 2016 when the court struck down a Texas abortion law that critics called one of the strictest nationwide.In July (2020), Ginsburg filed another fierce dissent when the conservative majority allowed the Trump administration to expand exemptions for employers who have religious or moral objections to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.”Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” Ginsburg wrote, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She observed that the administration had said the new rules would cause thousands of women — “between 70,500 and 126,400 women of childbearing age,” she wrote — to lose coverage.

Friendship with Scalia

Despite their ideological differences, her best friend on the bench was the late Justice Antonin Scalia. After the conservative’s sudden death in February 2016, she said he left her a “treasure trove” of memories.She was a life-long opera fan who appeared onstage in 2016 at the Kennedy Center for a non-speaking role in the Washington National Opera’s “The Daughter of the Regiment.”At speaking events she often lamented the fact that while she dreamed of being a great opera diva, she had been born with the limited range of a sparrow.Her relationship with Scalia inspired Derrick Wang to compose a comic opera he titled Scalia/Ginsburg that was based on opinions penned by the two justices.The actress Kate McKinnon also portrayed Ginsburg — wearing black robes and a trademark jabot — in a recurring “Saturday Night Live” skit responding to the news of the day.Ginsburg suffered two bouts of cancer in 1999 and 2009, and received a stent implant in her heart but never missed a day of oral arguments. She was married to Martin Ginsburg, a noted tax attorney for more than 50 years until his death in 2010 and they had two children.”I would just like people to think of me as a judge who did the best she could with whatever limited talent I had,” Ginsburg said at an event at the University of California Hastings College of Law in 2011, “to keep our country true to what makes it a great nation and to make things a little better than they might have been if I hadn’t been there.”

Emmy nominees are diverse this year. But that hasn’t always been the case, data analysis shows.

Forty-two performers of color are nominated across 16 acting categories this year. But previous editions of the Emmys have been significantly less diverse.

The slate of acting nominees for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday are notably diverse: Billy Porter (“Pose”), Zendaya (“Euphoria”), Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”) and Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”) are among the 39 performers of color recognized across 16 acting categories.

But many awards shows have consistently lagged when it comes to inclusion and representation in their acting nominees — and the Emmys are no exception.

In analyzing Emmy Awards acting nominations from the past 10 years, NBC News found that the vast majority — nearly 80 percent — went to white performers.

By comparison, about 15 percent of nominations went to Black performers, just under 3 percent to Latinos, nearly 2 percent to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and barely 1 percent to those of Middle Eastern or Northern African descent.

The analysis encompassed the 12 acting categories presented at the Primetime Emmy Awards and four guest actor categories presented at a separate ceremony. (The data review excluded actors nominated for their work in “short form” content, such as programs on YouTube, because that category was introduced just four years ago.)

Rashad Robinson, the president of the racial justice organization Color of Change, said diversity at major awards shows deserves to be taken seriously because recognition can launch the careers of artists of color, opening doors to new and greater opportunities.

“In the midst of so many different racial justice issues I could care about, I care about this because of the economic consequences on real people,” Robinson said in a phone interview this week.

The virtual Emmys show, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, comes after a summer of nationwide protests over systemic racism. The movement for Black lives has forced much of the entertainment industry to confront issues of inclusion, representation and diversity in both on-screen projects and behind-the-scenes workplace culture.

The legacy of American racial trauma is also one of the key themes of “Watchmen,” an HBO miniseries featuring a diverse cast that leads this year’s field with 26 nominations.

The series, which follows a masked vigilante (Emmy nominee Regina King) as she uncovers a white supremacist conspiracy, was filmed before the protests that followed George Floyd’s death. But the show’s creator, Damon Lindeloff, has said he set out to tackle modern anxieties around racism and policing in adapting the source material, a 1980s graphic novel of the same name.

“This year, we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history, and it is our duty to use this medium for change,” Frank Scherma, the Television Academy’s chairman and CEO, said in a video message introducing the nominees in late July.

In a statement to NBC News this week, a spokesperson for the Television Academy said the organization realized the need for change in the performers it recognizes as “outstanding.”

“As an organization which is open for membership to all individuals working in the television industry, the Television Academy fervently agrees that there is still much work to be done across our industry in regards to representation,” the spokesperson said.

“We feel it is a very positive sign that over the past decade the well-deserved recognition of performers of color has increased from 1 in 10 to 1 in 3 nominees across all performer categories,” the spokesperson added.


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The data showed that 10 years ago, 88 of the 93 acting nominations for the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards went to white performers. In the years since, the trend line shows a declining proportion of nominations for white actors, reaching about 58 percent for this year’s ceremony.

The analysis showed that recent gains in diversity have not been equally distributed, however.

In the last five years, only two Latinos — Louis C.K., whose father is of Mexican and Hungarian descent, and Alexis Bledel, who is Latina — were among the nominees for lead or supporting performance in a comedy or drama series.

“It is embarrassing that an industry situated in Los Angeles continues to have such a lack of Latino representation,” Robinson said. (Latinos make up about half the population of Los Angeles, where the majority of film studios and production companies are based.)

Latinos have gotten slightly more recognition in the limited series acting categories, such as Jharrel Jerome, the Emmy-winning Afro-Latino star of Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us.”

“Clearly that increase in representation has not been equal for all groups, and clearly there is still more to do to improve both gender and racial representation across all categories,” the academy spokesperson said.

The relative underrepresentation of performers of color in Emmy nominations may be a direct result of the underrepresentation of people of color in the entertainment industry overall.

UCLA’s 2019 Hollywood Diversity Report discovered that performers of color played lead characters on just 21.5 percent of broadcast shows, 21.3 percent of cable shows and 21.3 percent of digital shows, such as original series on Netflix.

The lack of diversity at award shows, therefore, can be interpreted as “one of the lagging indicators of how the industry has operated for years: who has been given opportunities, who has had doors opened to them,” Robinson said. “None of this, to me, is an accident or a mistake.”

In comparison to the Emmys, the Oscars — Hollywood’s marquee awards ceremony — has faced greater scrutiny in recent years over the racial makeup of its acting nominees. The ceremonies in 2015 and 2016 featured all-white acting nominees, inspiring the social media hashtags #OscarsSoWhite and #WhiteOscars.

In response, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the organization behind the Oscars — pledged to “advance inclusion in the entertainment industry and increase representation within its membership and the greater film community,” most recently announcing new diversity standards for best picture eligibility

Diversity: A Movement, Not a Moment

The New York men’s fashion week schedule may have shrunk, but the talent pool keeps growing.

Slow and steady in its progress, the scrappy indie incubator known as NYMD (for New York Men’s Day) finally managed to slip into the big top this week with a full morning of digital shows run under the banner of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Although in its early days NYMD got little mainstream love, it quickly established itself as a showcase for fledgling labels, a forum for politics and a place to make discoveries. And it remains one.

Take the case of Tristan Detwiler, a 23-year-old surfer and sometime model who made a fashion week debut with his label Stan, a startlingly polished collection of outerwear themed around patchwork quilting.

By now you’d imagine this form of home-stitched Americana had been fully exploited by designers like Raf Simons (at Calvin Klein) and Emily Bode. But then along comes Mr. Detwiler to riff on Irish chain, bow tie, meridian and other traditional quilting motifs (using some actual very old blankets) with clothes he still sews himself, including a two-tone quilted hoodie that, in the good old days of runway fashion shows, would have had buyers stampeding backstage.

Without question the deadening flatness of fashion seen online can feel like a bummer when you compare it with the experience of the shows in their hectic, wackadoodle glory. Yet there is something to be said for the digital alternatives that emerged in response to the pandemic.

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Now everyone can participate in a designer’s process and can acquire direct from a talent like Aaron Potts an understanding of how his gender-neutral Apotts collection originated not with a traipse through the wilds of Pinterest but out of a fascination with syncretic culture and the topsy-turvy doll.

Most likely these curious artifacts — two-headed and two-bodied, one half white, the other Black, the parts joined where the hips and legs would ordinarily be — originated in the antebellum South. Eventually they became popular enough to be manufactured commercially and distributed nationwide.

“You had this symbolism of one side with the pretty white doll dressed in calico, and when you turned it upside down, the Black doll in tatters,” Mr. Potts said. “That fascinated me.”

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Carter Young, spring 2021
Carter Young, spring 2021Credit…Roeg Cohen

Subtle references to duality and racial dynamics were threaded through a largely monochrome collection of voluminous shapes; of ruffled floor-length skirts for people of either (or any) gender; of beautiful bell-sleeve khaki overshirts; of supersize denim coveralls with deep cuffs turned up and the hems left frayed; of a cloaklike leopard-print poncho worn atop a matching suit that looked as though designed for the Nigerian superstar Femi Kuti.

It was less our oppositions that Mr. Potts, who is Black, found compelling than our likenesses. “Whatever our race, size, gender, class, age, in the end we are all intimately connected,” he said. Like the topsy-turvy doll, we are conjoined.

Mr. Potts was far from the only designer questioning the social costs of implicit bias. Carter Altman, the 22-year-old Carter Young designer, took the heroic masculinity of white style “icons” like Steve McQueen and Peter Fonda and transposed it in his presentation onto models of color (and varied genders).

In the process he made a credible statement of his evolving design chops (think “Easy Rider” meets normcore) while quietly underscoring the unconscious ways race is coded into even our clothing.

The Timo Weiland designers — Timo Weiland, Alan Eckstein and Donna Kang — achieved similar goals with a tightly edited selection of what, in one sense, seemed like men’s wear staples (a relaxed double-breasted blazer, a shorts suit, a sleeveless sweater worn shirtless) but rendered in the Necco wafer palette (tobacco brown, pink, mint green, pink) that is Mr. Eckstein’s specialty and modeled by the furniture designer Khiry Sullivan.

That Mr. Sullivan is Black is worth noting in context. While fashion, an industry that in its haste to undo decades of bias occasionally gives the impression that racial inclusivity is less a movement than a “moment,” the Timo Weiland designers have drawn on a diverse friend cohort since founding the label a decade ago.

“We’ve always wanted our collections to reflect the world we live in,” Mr. Weiland said, “not some imaginary place dreamed up by a quote fashion designer.”

6 ways human resources can increase workplace diversity

he push for diversity, inclusion and workplace equity isn’t a fad; it’s a sea change that all businesses need to be a part of. It’s not enough for companies to use social media or websites to embrace Black Lives Matter, gender equality and similar causes. What matters is weaving diversity and inclusion seamlessly into the company culture.

HR executives can play a crucial role by implementing initiatives and leading the C-suite and managers away from unconscious bias or inadvertent racism or bigotry. 

How important is workplace diversity?

Equity in the workplace is vital if your company wants to reach its true potential. Studies have shown that workplaces with a diverse workforce up and down the organizational chart reap rewards: increased innovation, stronger appeal on the global canvas, a richerbottomlinemoreengagedworkers, better retention, higher-quality applicants and lessvulnerabilityduringacrisis.

Ignoring diversity and inclusion can lead to the opposite of all these benefits and can create a number of problems, from employment discrimination lawsuits to devastating PR. In short, diverse companies with diverse workforces simply allow for a wider variety of perspectivesexperiencesandopportunitiesforlearning.

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

It’s a mistake to think workplace equity is just a matter of hiring more Black employees or promoting a woman or two. Diversity relates to people who often are discriminated against based on age, class, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. Be aware that differentgenerationsmaydefineequalityordiversitydifferently.

Inclusion refers to colleagues who are supportive, respectful, tolerant and willing to engage and collaborate, writes Somen Mondal, CEO and co-founder of job-screening technology firm Ideal.

How can I infuse my company with workplace equity and inclusion?

Some tactics — such as reaching out to historically Black colleges and universities in recruiting efforts — are important but aren’t overnight solutions. Here are six actions you can take right now.

1. Eliminate pay stub discrimination

Breakdownsalaries by race and gender to see where your company stacks up, and tap other types of analytics as well. Offering equal pay and actively eliminating pay gaps are two essential steps to eliminating discrimination in the workplace. All employees deserve fair compensation and benefits.

2. Talk the equitable talk

Learnmoreaboutdisparities, then line up a speaker or a workshop on passive racism and provide ongoing follow-up — but do your research to ensure you’re not illadvisedly tapping into a fad. Suggest employees take HarvardsImplicitAssociationTest.

3. Find the homogenous gaps

Talk to managers about the makeup of their reports to pinpoint the less-inclusive areas of the company, and discuss the need for diversity, inclusion and equitable hiring efforts. Share with other managers some best practices for workingwithandpromotinginclusiononadiverseteam.

4. Seek out diverse partners

Investigate ways to expand your supply chain to be moreinclusiveofblackownedcompanies.

5. Broaden your audience view

Task your advertisingandmarketing departments with including a variety of demographics and cultures with ad photography, commercials and social media. Check your collateral, including annual reports and training videos, for workplace equity.

6. Get an outside opinion

Well-meaning but tonedeafefforts can ruin collateral, media and presentations compiled by a homogeneous team. Until the HR department has worked internally to broaden representation, consider using a sensitivity reader/consultant. Typically used for books, they can be beneficialinbusiness, too, to ensure that what you think is inclusive and welcoming isn’t actually offensive.

Strategies to consider in the long term

  • Create a role for a diversity and inclusion specialist who will develop and monitor programs and results — and set this person up to succeed. Ideally, as Josh Bersin writes, this person should be a manager overseeing an all-encompassing managementphilosophy and not just an HR department spearheading a hiring initiative.
  • Develop a complete diversityandinclusionprogram if you’re unable to hire a diversity officer. Hiring a consultantto help may be wise.
  • Ramp up diverse and inclusive hiring efforts to expand your talent pool. Solicit referrals from existing nonwhite staff or recruit at HBCUs. Tap specialty headhunters for everyone from veterans to those with disabilitiesto people of differentraces.
  • Fund employees’ continuing education, such as professionaldevelopment or a master’s degree related to crossculturalbusinessandcommunication.

If you enjoyed this guide on how to promote equal opportunity, workplace equality and inclusion in your work environment, you can signupforSmartBriefonWorkforce for free. For even more in-depth news coverage, signupforanyofSmartBriefs 275+ freenewsletters.

DianeBensonHarrington is a writer for SmartBrief and, as a freelance writer/editor, has covered a wide range of topics. ConnectwithheronLinkedIn.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple Diversity Plans: Tracking Progress

For years, technology companies have devoted considerable time and resources to diversifying their workforces. And every year, some of the largest firms—including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple—have released diversity reports breaking down their progress. How have these firms’ efforts fared over the long term?

The short answer: Progress has been incredibly incremental. This should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the tech industry, as these companies usually accompany their diversity reports with much public self-flagellation about their slow rate of diversification. If you want to put a positive spin on it, though, you can see that these companies haven’t given up.

Let’s start with Facebook, which has seen its percentages of underrepresented groups increase only slightly over a six-year period. The social-networking giant has done a little better with its male-female ratio over this period, although it’s still very male-centric:

In addition to its continual pledges to diversify its employees, Facebook recently pledged to spend $1 billion with diverse suppliers in 2021, including Black-owned businesses. 

Google has also been pushing its own external diversity efforts, including a recent $12 million grant to “organizations working to address racial inequalities,” according to a recent blog posting. Over the years, it has initiated several internal measures designed to boost employee diversity, including (but certainly not limited to) interactive learning labs meant to expand employees’ “racial awareness.” Pay equity is a strong focus, as is a more diverse approach to recruiting. But how has that translated into Google’s diversity statistics over the long term?

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been big on diversity, and Apple as a company has been aggressively focused on closing the pay gaps between groups. “This past year, we looked at the total compensation for U.S. employees and closed the gaps we found,” noted a 2017 report. “We’re now analyzing the salaries, bonuses, and annual stock grants of all our employees worldwide.” Externally, Apple announced earlier this year that it’s devoting $100 million to a Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.

In terms of employee breakdowns, however, many of the percentages haven’t shifted very much between 2014 and 2018, the last year for which Apple offers figures:

Microsoft’s longtime commitment to diversity includes CEO Satya Nadella telling an audience as far back as 2014 that the company would end up looking a lot less white and male as time went on. As with the other companies on this list, though, Microsoft didn’t make an overwhelming amount of progress between 2016 and 2019.

Meanwhile, Snap announced in its inaugural diversity report that its efforts simply haven’t been “good enough,” although it claims to have taken steps such as diversifying its management and launching employee workshops to stop unconscious bias. 

“In our view, one of the most effective ways to achieve transformational change is to build more equitable systems, and better equip people within those systems to identify and root out inequity,” Snap’s report read. “We need systems and data that drive inclusion within our workforce and our products. And we need to inspire empathy among people—from all backgrounds—to better understand the lived experience of underrepresented groups.”

To be fair, it takes a lot of effort and time to make any sort of substantial change at a massive company. All of the above firms have acknowledged the slow pace of progress, and it may take a decade or more for the percentages of certain underrepresented groups to climb significantly higher (at least at the current trajectories).

And it’s not just the largest tech companies focused on diversity. According to the Dice Sentiment Survey, a majority of technologists said their companies had made internal and/or external gestures of support toward diversity movements. At the same time, though, a sizable number (roughly 40 percent) of companies had not.    

Pinterest’s new D&I chief will report directly to CEO

Dive Brief:

  • As Pinterest faces a lawsuit alleging bias in hiring, promotion and compensation, the tech company named Tyi McCray as its new global head of inclusion and diversity, according to an Aug. 31 announcement. For the first time, the position will be within Pinterest’s executive management team. McCray will report directly to Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann.
  • McCray, who has leadership experience in both the private and academia sectors, will lead Pinterest’s strategy and programming to create an inclusive and diverse culture “reflecting our global audience of over 400 million Pinners,” according to the company. “In my short time working with the Pinterest team and Ben, I’ve seen a real acknowledgement about the hard work and commitment that will be needed from all of us to get us to where we want to be as an organization,” McCray said in her statement. In June, the company committed to “a deeper focus” on increasing diversity at senior levels. 
  • Candice Morgan was hired as Pinterest’s first head of inclusion and diversity in 2016. Morgan was at the company for four years, leaving in January to join the venture firm GV as it’s first equity, diversity and inclusion partner, according to a LinkedIn post.

Dive Insight:

Pinterest and other major tech companies have made gains in overall workforce diversity, but there has been less improvement at the senior leadership level, some employers’ diversity reports show.

Pinterest exceeded set goals for underrepresented engineers and the hiring rate for underrepresented employees across the country, according to its diversity and inclusion report released earlier this year. However, men represent 75% of leaders and White individuals represent 64% of leaders. Meanwhile, the representation of Black and Latinx leaders is at 1% and 2%, respectively. Notably, Pinterest has been accused of pay discrimination at its executive leadership and managerial levels.

Francoise Brougher, a former chief operating officer at Pinterest, filed a lawsuit Aug. 11 alleging that in her leadership role she was offered a less desirable equity package than male peers and that she was excluded from decision-making. Brougher claimed that pointing out Pinterest’s alleged discriminatory practices in hiring, promotion and compensation led to her dismissal. 

Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, two former Pinterest employees, made allegations similar to Brougher’s complaint. Ozoma started in July 2018 as the public policy and social impact manager. Banks, also a public policy and social impact manager, began at Pinterest in May 2019. Both women claimed their attempts to achieve fair pay were rejected and they endured retaliation, according to The Washington Post. Ozoma and Banks left their jobs at Pinterest in May 2020. 

As demonstrations calling for racial justice took place around the nation in June, Pinterest tweeted June 3, “Black Lives Matter” sharing a blog post by Silbermann outlining the company’s initiatives. Ozoma tweeted a thread in response. “I owe it to myself and Black colleagues still there to hold the company to the commitments it made,” she said. “Pinterest, Black employees do indeed matter. Pay us fairly.” 

In June, Pinterest announced that a special committee of its board of directors had tapped Danielle Conley of WilmerHale “to conduct a comprehensive and independent review of our policies and practices concerning discrimination, harassment and other workplace issues.” In August, Andrea Wishom, president at Skywalker Holdings and a former executive at Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, was appointed to the board. Wishom is the first Black woman to become a Pinterest board member

Attention to diversity may have multiple business upsides, studies have shown. Tech companies with more racial diversity in upper management than lower management out-produced firms with more diversity in lower management, a study published June 9 in the Academy of Management Journal found. Academic researchers analyzed 201 high tech firms’ EEO-1 data.

“As a diversity and inclusion professional, my line of work in particular has evolved and — though our work was always absolutely pivotal — the vital nature of what we do has come into focus more now than ever before,” McCray said.

The Oscars’ New Diversity Rules Are Sweeping but Safe

Although the initiative is meant to encourage major changes, the best-picture qualifications aren’t as strict as they may seem.

In 2015, after the Oscars announced a set of 20 all-white acting nominees, the then-president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was asked whether the group had a diversity problem.

“Not at all,” the leader, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, replied. “Not at all.”

What a difference five years makes. After a second all-white group of actors was nominated and the activist April Reign’s #OscarsSoWhite hashtag became a rallying cry, the academy began taking great strides to diversify a membership that had been largely white and male for nine decades. Those inclusion goals were met months ago, but this week, the academy unveiled an even more ambitious diversity initiative with the intention of reshaping not just how movies are rewarded, but also who’s hired to make them in the first place.

Meant to take effect by the 96th Oscars in 2024, these new guidelines will require films to meet two of four diversity standards to be eligible for a best-picture nomination. It’s an initiative that could, on its face, encourage studios to enact more equitable hiring practices and broaden the range of stories that are told.

Still, though the announcement has sent shock waves through Hollywood, the new guidelines aren’t as strict as they may initially appear.

The first set of stipulations, grouped as Standard A, has already earned the most attention, and with good reason: It’s meant to encourage diversity in front of the camera for an industry that still defaults to white actors. To satisfy the demands of Standard A, only one of these three criteria needs to be met:

  • At least one actor from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group must be cast in a significant role.
  • The story must center on women, L.G.T.B.Q. people, a racial or ethnic group or the disabled.
  • At least 30 percent of the cast must be actors from at least two of those four underrepresented categories.

An emphasis on the latter two criteria would radically change the stories that are greenlit and the people who appear in them. But the first criterion, which mandates that “at least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group,” will prove easy for most films to satisfy. Recent best-picture nominees like “Joker,” which is top-heavy with white stars but features Zazie Beetz as the would-be love interest, or “La La Land,” a white-led love story with John Legend in a supporting role, could still sail through Standard A with little to worry about.

Standard B is focused on hiring behind the scenes and asks productions to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Two or more department heads — meaning jobs like director, cinematographer or composer — must be female, L.G.T.B.Q., disabled or part of an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.
  • At least six other crew members must be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.
  • At least 30 percent of the film’s crew must hail from the four underrepresented groups continually laid out in these guidelines.

The first criterion initially appears easiest to satisfy, as department heads like costume designers, makeup artists, hairstylists and casting directors skew heavily female, though there is a further stipulation: At least one of those jobs must also go to someone from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group, which means that simply hiring white women won’t fulfill the requirement. Still, largely white best-picture nominees like “The Irishman” and “The Tree of Life,” which each employed female casting directors and Mexican cinematographers, would have no problem meeting the demands of Standard B.

If it’s starting to dawn on you that most best-picture contenders wouldn’t have to change a thing under the new guidelines, just wait until you get to Standards C and D. Standard C requires one of two criteria be met:

  • The film’s distributor or financing company must have at least two interns from an underrepresented group.
  • The film’s production, distribution or financing company must offer training or work opportunities to people from those underrepresented groups.

Just about any studio with a robust internship program would already meet those stipulations, and Standard D is even simpler: It merely asks that some of the senior marketing, publicity and distribution executives on a film are from an underrepresented group. Given the number of women and gay men who work in the field of publicity, that is an easy bar for any studio to clear.

Since only two of the four standards must be met for a film to qualify for the Oscars top prize, and Standards C and D are so easy for most studios to satisfy, best-picture contenders could remain fairly homogeneous both behind and in front of the camera. In other words, if a filmmaker still wants to make a war movie about white men like “1917” or “American Sniper,” that’s permitted by the new Oscar guidelines as long as the studio distributing it has done the bare minimum when hiring interns and marketing executives.

Given that, will anything truly change? Yes, but it’s something far harder to measure: perception. Even if the new guidelines allow ample workarounds, they will probably spur filmmakers, financiers and studio executives to take the issue of diversity more seriously, and could especially be a boon to department heads of color. And now that the issue is on the table, Oscar voters may be interested to learn just how specifically a contender’s diversity standards were met, and which films skated by with a handful of interns.

At the very least, all this is a tacit admission that the academy is not a passive participant when it comes to diversity in Hollywood, merely beholden to films made outside the organization’s purview. The Oscars can bestow a mighty significance, and their imprimatur has long influenced the films that are greenlit and the filmmakers trusted to tell stories. If these new guidelines say anything loud and clear, it’s that a lack of diversity isn’t just the Oscars’ problem. It’s everybody’s.

Biden campaign grows more diverse with people of color making up nearly half of staff

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign grew more diverse in its staffing over the summer months with people of color now making up nearly half of the campaign’s full-time staff and women on the campaign growing in their majority.Forty-six percent of Biden’s full-time staff are people of color, up from 35% percent when the campaign first reported its diversity data in June, according to new figures provided to CNN by a Biden campaign official. Forty percent of senior staffers are people of color, up from 36% ten weeks ago.The number of women on the campaign also grew with 59% of full-time staff identifying as female, up from 53% in June. Fifty-six percent of senior staff are female, a slight decrease from the 58% of women who comprised senior staff in June.Five percent of staff chose not to specify race. The campaign did not provide a full staffing breakdown based on race and ethnicity. The new figures are reflective of 622 full-time Biden campaign staff, a campaign official said.Content by RVshareConquer cabin fever safely with RVshare this summerFrom simple camping trips to coast-to-coast explorations, the rentable fleet of 100,000 RVs means you can have outdoor adventures without risking you and your loved ones’ health.

The Vice President is committed to building a campaign team that reflects America. The growth in our diversity numbers reflects that commitment and is another great example of the Vice President demonstrating his values through his actions,” said Michael Leach, chief people diversity and inclusion officer for the Biden campaign. “As our campaign continues to grow and as we round out the final months of the general election, diversity, equity, and inclusion will continue to be at the forefront of our inclusive growth philosophy and strategy.”The diversity adds come as the campaign has beefed up its hiring heading into the general election and as the Democratic ticket itself has become diverse.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is the first Black and South Asian woman nominated to a major party ticket.Alida Garcia, founder of Inclusv, a diversity in politics group that has worked with the Biden campaign to bring in more diverse staff, said the new figures reflect a “real committed focus” by the campaign to diversify its staffing, including in its battleground states’ operations.”It shows how intentional they’ve been in building out their state teams to ensure that the state operations in these critical battleground states are reflective of the communities that are going to make up the Biden-Harris victory,” Garcia said.”When we think about those communities and we think about communities of color, they are the hardest hit by the pandemic right now,” Garcia added. “As it relates to building campaign apparatuses that respect and understand what communities of color are facing, the fact that the campaign has been intentional about who is at the top in doing this work with them to me speaks volumes and also is going to provide them with the opportunity to build systems that engage these voters.”Biden has pledged, if elected, to build an administration that reflects the diversity of the country, including in his staff, cabinet and other government officials.”My administration’s going to look like America, not just my staff, the administration from the vice president straight down through Cabinet members to major players within the White House, and the court,” Biden said during a June townhall focusing on issues tied to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. “It’s going to be a reflection of who we are as a nation.”The Trump campaign last released its diversity data in June when a spokesperson said 52% of full-time staff were women and senior staff was comprised of 56% women and 25% people of color. At the time, the campaign did not provide a breakdown of people of color on the full-time staff.

Coding academies for Black, Latino youth aim to debug the diversity gap in tech

With higher pay, better benefits and more resilience in a challenging economy, jobs in the fast-growing tech sector are highly sought after positions. Yet, Blacks and Latinos make up only a small fraction of this workforce.

Now, coding academies for middle and high school students are helping to debug this diversity gap. 

Djassi Julien, a 21-year-old Google software engineer, recalls the coding program that first sparked his interest in computer science. It was an intensive, six-week boot camp sponsored by All Star Code, a New York-based non-profit educational organization.

“I participated in All Star Code kind of on a whim,” Julien said. “It was a totally foreign concept to me … through All Star Code, I was really able to open my eyes to the the power that tech has.” 

At 15, he was accepted into All Star Code’s summer program for teen boys that aims to get more Black and Latino men interested in the tech industry.

“We’d recreate some of our favorite iPhone apps,” Julien said. “And I just found it, like, super-empowering to be able to take something from concept to a technically executed project.”

Providing access

This year, All Star Code’s summer program was totally virtual with 152 students attending a full day of classes and workshops online. They were selected from more than 1,000 applicants. The program’s goal is to give young men of color the coding skills they need and access to a robust professional network to help them succeed in college and their careers. 

“Providing access, providing an exposure, providing skills in the tech sector at the high school age, and later as they pursue their career paths, is incredibly important,” said Danny Rojas, All Star Code’s executive director. “We know that we not only need to be consumers of technology, but we need to be creators of technology.”

Blacks make up only 6% of software and web developers, although they account for about 12% of the U.S. workforce, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While Latinos make up nearly 18% of the total U.S. workforce, just 5% are software and web developers.

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In 2019, the median pay for web developers $73,760, while software developers’ median pay was $107,510, according to BLS data. Overall, the median annual wage for computer and information technology jobs was $88,240 — more than double the median pay for all U.S. occupations.

When founder Christina Lewis launched All Star Code in 2013, coding academies aimed at closing the gender divide in tech, including Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code, were already established. In honor of her father’s legacy, Lewis wanted to fill a void for young men of color. She is the daughter of  the late Reginald F. Lewis, who was the first Black person to build a billion-dollar business, TLC Beatrice International. 

Data shows Blacks comprise only 1% of the founders of startups that are funded by venture capital firms. Latinos represent nearly 2% of venture-backed founders, while almost 18% are Asian and 77% are white. 

Mentoring future entrepreneurs is also integral to All Star Code’s mission. Fostering innovation is critical in the tech sector, agrees Rocket Lawyer’s Charley Moore, one of only a few Black tech CEOs in the country. 

Creating an on ramp

“It’s creating an ‘on ramp,’” Moore said. “Learning how to code is like a business suit of the old days.

You’re never going to regret having those skills,” he added. “It will never be a problem for you whether you go into medicine, law, business or journalism or tech.”

Moore, a former corporate attorney and U.S. Navy veteran, said he had a passion for computer science at a young age. He founded the online legal technology company in 2008 to help make legal issues simple and more affordable to everyone. 

“There are so many careers now that are available to someone who is a computer scientist.” he said. “That ‘on ramp’ can make you better as a lawyer or physician.

“You name it,” Moore added. “You can be better if you take computer science and learn to code.” Rocket Lawyer currently has about 30 million accounts.

For Julien, who graduated from Harvey Mudd College in May with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science, the coding academy he attended in high school helped put that field on his radar. Some of All Star Code’s corporate sponsors, which have included AT&T, Google, Facebook, JP Morgan and Medidata Solutions, also played an influential role, he said.

Julien held internships at Google for three summers before starting his position as a New York-based software engineer this summer.

“The big takeaway there is it’s not really something that companies should be, like, opting into because of a political trend or something like that,” he said. “A company should really feel a sense of responsibility to bridge the gap.” 

And, with the pipeline of talent that coding academies and other educational initiatives provide, experts say, these programs could significantly change the face of tech.  

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