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NASCAR and Rev Racing announce 2020 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Team

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 20, 2019) — Following a national search for top diverse driver talent, NASCAR and Rev Racing today announced the six ethnically diverse and female drivers selected to the 2020 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program.

The program’s newest class features five drivers who will make their return to Rev Racing next season, including Chase Cabre, Nicholas Sanchez, Gracie Trotter, Rajah Caruth and Isabella Robusto. Late model driver Perry Patino will make his debut with NASCAR Drive for Diversity in 2020.

Caruth and Robusto competed in the 2019 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Youth Driver Development Program and raced Legends cars for Rev Racing at this year’s Bojangles’ Summer Shootout in Charlotte, N.C. They also ran five other races with Rev Racing as part of the youth program.

“We are very enthusiastic about the progress we continue to make with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program, and the 2020 class exemplifies the evolution of the program,” said Jusan Hamilton, Director, Racing Operations and Event Management at NASCAR. “We were extremely impressed with the confidence, competitive drive and raw talent of the drivers that competed at this year’s combine, which made the selection process challenging for us. Our partners at Rev Racing work hard every year to develop the best diverse drivers around the world. To see familiar faces in this class that have grown and advanced through the youth ranks of the program bolsters our belief that we will see some of these same drivers at the top levels of NASCAR in the future.”

The six drivers were selected from a group of invitees that competed in the two-day NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Combine in October at Daytona International Speedway and New Smyrna Speedway.

The combine included fitness assessments and evaluations of each driver’s marketing and media skills. The on-track portion tested the drivers’ abilities behind the wheel and proficiencies in late model stock cars. Representatives from NASCAR and Rev Racing were on-hand to evaluate the talent and determine the 2020 team.

“We have seen great success this past year with our drivers having multiple wins in every series we participated in this season,” said Max Siegel, Owner of Rev Racing. “Our returning drivers have certainly set the bar high. We are all excited to welcome the new members of this year’s class to the Rev Racing family and continue the momentum moving into the 2020 season.”

Caruth, Patino, Robusto and Trotter will compete in a NASCAR Late Model, while Cabre and Sanchez will compete in the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Showdown Series in 2020.

RELATED: ARCA Menards Series East schedule set for 2020

Competing in a late model stock car will be a first for drivers like Caruth, whose background is in iRacing, and Robusto, who has experience racing Legends cars.

Caruth will become the first driver with an iRacing background to be selected for the program. He is a product of the eNASCAR IGNITE Series — a first-of-its kind esports competition created to identify young talent by providing a low barrier of entry to the sport.

NASCAR Drive for Diversity provides opportunities for women and minorities to pursue career opportunities in NASCAR in the driver’s seat and on pit crews through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Development Program and off the track through the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program.

The 2020 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development team includes:

  • Chase Cabre: The 22-year-old from Tampa, Fla., will join Rev Racing for his fourth-consecutive racing season and compete in the ARCA Menards Series East. Cabre won twice in 2019 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
  • Rajah Caruth: In just 42 starts, Caruth, 17, of Washington, D.C., has twice won races in the eNASCAR IGNITE Series, driving the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1/Ford Mustang. Additionally, he earned two heat wins with Rev Racing in the 2019 Bojangles’ Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
  • Perry Patino: The 20-year-old, Montgomery, Ala., native will join Rev Racing for the first time with one Limited Late Model win at Montgomery Speedway and the 2018 Limited Late Model championship under his belt.
  • Isabella Robusto: The 15-year-old won the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout in the Semi-Pro class in 2019 and finished second in Semi-Pro points. The Fort Mill, S.C., native was honored with the Young Racer award at the 2018 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards.
  • Nicholas Sanchez: The 18-year-old Miami native returns to Rev Racing for his fourth-consecutive season after winning at Myrtle Beach Speedway and Langley Speedway in a Late Model Stock Car in 2019.
  • Gracie Trotter: The Denver, N.C., native, 18, returns to Rev Racing as the 2019 Winter Heat Series champion at Charlotte Motor Speedway. She also won Round 5 of the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout in the Semi-Pro Division.

Study of TV Directors Finds Record Level of Diversity


According to a Directors Guild of America report, 50 percent of episodes were directed by women or people of color, a huge increase from five years ago. Still, there were gaps.

For the first time, more than half of the television episodes produced in a year were directed by women or people of color, according to a new report by the Directors Guild of America.

The report found that of 4,300 episodes produced in the 2018-19 season, some 50 percent were directed by women or people of color, a record high and up from 21 percent five years ago.

Of the 3,081 episodes produced at the eight major studios, Disney gave women and people of color the most directorial opportunities; 40 percent of its episodes, which include shows like “Grown-ish,” were directed by women, and 29 percent by people of color, figures that were trailed closely by HBO’s numbers.

Looking at the demographics of first-time television directors, the report found that women made up about half, another record, and that people of color comprised less than a third, down slightly from the previous year.

Yet the guild research also found that more than half of first-time directing work went to “series insiders” — people who have different jobs on a show and are given one-off directing assignments as a perk. The report said that group is usually “far less diverse” and such staffers rarely go on to directing careers.

“Producers hold in their hands the power to grant an opportunity that can set up an aspiring TV director for a lifelong career doing what they dreamed of,” Thomas Schlamme, the D.G.A. president, said in a statement. “The heart of the issue is that producers aren’t factoring in that every job given to someone who does not pursue a directing career equals an opportunity withheld.”

How Bravo’s First-Ever BravoCon Is Bringing Diversity And Inclusion To The Network’s Programming

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On November 15th, Bravo launched, BravoCon—the first-ever convention and three-day celebration of the network’s reality programming and the “bravolebrities” who are behind the widely popular shows. BravoCon is everything fans love about Bravo TV in one space, complete with Bravolebrity photo ops, Instagram-worthy photo moments, live panels and shows like never before. The first-ever immersive experience of its kind designed specifically for the Bravosphere — where superfans and Bravo influencers can come together to celebrate their fandom while sipping the hottest Bravolebrity tea and contributing to the conversation of the network.

The inaugural conference brought together stars, producers, and executives from The Real Housewives of New York CityBeverly HillsAtlanta, and New Jersey, along with cast members from Southern CharmVanderpump RulesMarried to Medicine, Vanderpump Rules, Shahs of Sunset, Top Chef, Project Runway and Below Deck, proving to be an unforgetable experience of its kind designed specifically for Bravo superfans. To kick off the weekend festivities at the convention, BravoCon hosted the largest Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen show yet, live from the Hammerstein Ballroom. BravoCon’s WWHL amassed 70 bravolebrities and provided series announcements and updates giving viewers a sneak peek of what’s to come.

Ahead of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, we spoke with several extremely well-known and charismatic bravolebrities from the Real Housewives of Atlanta franchise, Eva Marcille and Kenya Moore about their excitement for BravoCon, their thoughts on Bravo’s commitment to diverse programming and how the network has provided them a platform for their communities.

Dominique Fluker: How excited are you for the first-ever BravoCon? How is BravoCon different from any other conference?

Eva Marcille: It’s adorable! You know it’s the inaugural event, so to be at the first one, you know it’s going to be crazy but you don’t know what to expect but that’s kind of the cool thing about it. Anything can happen! It hasn’t happened before.

Fluker: As a leading African-American woman and star at Bravo, how do you feel knowing you are an integral part of the Bravo franchise? What kind of responsibility do you have with this platform? (read more)

Microsoft reports incremental progress on diversity, releases new ‘Inclusion Index’ sentiment analysis

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Microsoft published its most comprehensive report yet on diversity and inclusion Tuesday morning, including an “Inclusion Index” indicating that 88 percent of the company’s employees express positive sentiments in areas such as their ability to be authentic and feel a sense of belonging at work, and their belief in the company’s commitment to diversity.

The newly disclosed statistic reflects a broader push at Microsoft and in the tech industry to not just increase workforce diversity but to ensure an inclusive and accepting culture, as well. With the new measure, and additional details about equal pay and executive diversity, Microsoft is going beyond what many others in the industry report.

Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Microsoft’s chief diversity officer.

Microsoft previously tracked the Inclusion Index internally. However, the company declined GeekWire’s request to disclose numbers from prior years for context, or to indicate generally whether the trend is up or down. The company began collecting the data in 2017 but waited to share the Inclusion Index publicly until it could affirm the validity of the measure this year.

“The Inclusion Index is the internal way in which we listen to what our employees are telling us and gather sentiment about what it feels like to work at Microsoft,” said Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Microsoft’s chief diversity officer, in an interview. “We want employees to bring their diverse experiences and diverse perspectives, but we have to put that diversity to work. The inclusion index allows us to understand how we’re doing and how we can do better.”

This Microsoft chart shows the makeup of its workforce by gender and ethnicity, not including acquired companies such as LinkedIn and GitHub. (Microsoft Graphic)

In areas where prior years’ results were disclosed, Microsoft’s diversity numbers showed progress on a number of fronts.

  • The percentage of women at Microsoft rose by 1.1 points to 27.6 percent over the past year. Women at Microsoft in tech roles rose 1.4 points to 21.4 percent. Women in executive roles rose 1.4 points to 19.3 percent, the report says.
  • All of the above statistics exclude what Microsoft calls “minimally integrated businesses,” companies acquired by Microsoft, such as LinkedIn and GitHub. When including those companies, the percentage of women at Microsoft was up 1.2 points to 29.2 percent.
  • Excluding acquired businesses, Microsoft reported a 17.3 percent increase in its total number of African American/Black employees over the past year (now representing 4.5 percent of the Microsoft workforce) and a 12.5 percent increase in the number of Hispanic/Latinx employees (now 6.3 percent of the workforce), outpacing the 3.2 percent increase in its total number of white employees over the same time period (now representing 53.2 percent of the Microsoft workforce).
  • Addressing the issue of equal pay, as of September 2019, Microsoft racial and ethnic minority employees in the U.S. made $1.006 for every $1 earned by their white counterparts, and women made $1.001 for every $1 earned by their male counterparts, the company said.

On the representation of women in its workforce, Microsoft remains behind some of its peers in the industry. Google, by comparison, reported this year that 33.2 percent of its workforce is women. Facebook says 36.9 percent of its workforce is women. Women make up 41.7 percent of Amazon’s workforce.

“We really just compare to ourselves,” McIntyre said. “It’s the voices and the experience of our own employees and the bar that we have for ourselves that we are accountable to. We know that there are other companies that are working hard, as well, and we are focused on our journey.” (read more)

Charting a Career in Diversity at Boston University

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They are determined to use their experience, influence, and positions to help make their business, organization, and world a more inclusive place. They are breaking barriers—and then reaching back to help those behind them overcome the same hurdles. They are mentoring students or younger colleagues, hiring diverse candidates, offering opportunities, and ensuring that employees succeed and are promoted so that their workplace and their communities reflect the richness and talents of the country’s increasingly diverse population.

Raul Fernandez graduated from the College of Communication with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and quickly found himself working at an agency that handled some of the nation’s largest tech companies. This being the early 2000s, though, that tech bubble burst, and Fernandez (COM’00, Wheelock’16) segued into higher education, teaching public speaking and eventually working in PR for colleges and universities. But he felt something was missing in his career, so when a friend suggested he apply to replace her as assistant director of the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground back at his alma mater on Comm Ave, he decided to try for it.

Now, more than a decade later and with a doctorate in education from BU Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, Fernandez is associate dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion and a lecturer at Wheelock.

His passion for change doesn’t stop at the edge of campus. In May 2019, he won a three-way race for a seat on the Brookline, Mass., Select Board, promising to bring new voices and wider representation to the town’s decision-making. His campaign had a little help from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (CAS’11), who had been elected to Congress, representing New York’s 14th Congressional district, in November 2018. The two have been friends since she was a Thurman Center student ambassador.

Fernandez also serves on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Racial Imbalance Advisory Council and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Equity, Inclusion, & Social Justice Division.

Bostonia spoke to Fernandez about diversity in higher ed and doing what’s right even when there may be consequences for speaking up. (read more)

Patrick Stewart On Promoting Star Trek: Picard: “Diversity Is Increasingly Important in the World of Showbiz and Entertainment”

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During the Paris Comic-Con Star Trek: Picard panel, Patrick Stewart took the opportunity to talk about and promote the show’s diversity and declared that “diversity is increasingly important in the world of showbiz and entertainment.”

“You see before you five actors. And we are each one of us, from very diverse backgrounds and experiences. Now, I don’t think that was a conscious act when this series was being cast, but it’s absolutely appropriate that it should be so. Because diversity is becoming increasingly important in the world of showbiz and entertainment.”

Stewart then promotes his upcoming film, Charlie’s Angels, as an example of diversity and “female empowerment.”

“In two weeks’ time, there is a new

Stewart for many years has called for more diversity in entertainment. Back in 2015 while speaking to The Stage at the UK Theatre Awards, the actor commented on what he thought would improve British theatre. His answer? Diversity.

“We’ve made great advances in diversity of casting, and that’s something I hope to see growing and growing and growing.”

“Already, in my lifetime, in my career, significant advances have been made, and I look forward to the thrills that await people in theatre, in television and on film from British actors from all racial backgrounds having the same opportunity.”

He then called for more women writers, “You cannot magic these roles out of thin air. We need more writers, which means more women writers too, being encouraged and being produced. If you’re not produced, what’s the point? That’s also what I look for. When I speak of diversity, I’m thinking of gender diversity too.”

Star Trek: Picard will debut on CBS: All Acess in the United States and Amazon Prime globally on January 23rd, 2020.

In AI, Diversity Is A Business Imperative

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Organizations today recognize the critical importance of diversity. They address it by changing internal practices and establishing chief diversity officers to enable equal opportunities and to strive for greater inclusion so that teams with a wealth of cultures, beliefs, experiences and skills can make their companies even stronger.

The realization that diverse teams achieve better outcomes than homogenous ones was further reinforced by a McKinsey study that found that the most ethnically and racially diverse companies had a better chance of outperforming their peers. Those companies had a 33% great probability of achieving above-average returns. Whether it’s pricing stocks or determining guilt or innocence in a trial, a diverse group is more likely to examine the facts and be objective and accurate.

In actuality, the artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem is no different than the real world – diversity is the springboard to well-functioning algorithms.

Take for example the million-dollar Netflix challenge, in which a team of diverse individuals from different professions around the world developed more accurate algorithms for predicting how consumers rated movies than the ones Netflix had developed internally. They were successful because diverse individuals brought different ideas and ways of thinking.

This diversity is critical in solving complex problems. People (specifically data scientists) create the algorithms that help AI programs learn. If data scientists represent only one group, one way of thinking and one way to categorize, model and process information, then they are not only more likely to have a limited viewpoint, but they also are more likely to create errors. Importantly, they are also more likely to bring unintended biases into the algorithms that train the AI apps.

Coding In Biases

As more organizations rely on algorithms to help with decision making, we have a responsibility to ensure that we are not programming bias into our AI systems. A recent report found pervasive biases in the AI industry, which is predominately comprised of white males. A major concern is that the bias that has crept into so many of our policies and practices in hiring, education and mortgage lending, to name a few, are being programmed into AI apps. To help shed light on biases in AI systems and promote practices to help address this concern, The Algorithmic Justice League was formed by Joy Buolamwini. (read more)

Disney+ Reveals a Studio Once Blind to Diversity, and the More Inclusive Future That Awaits

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Disney made more than a few mistakes in 96 years, but programming like “The Mandalorian” shows Disney+ is ready to get it right.

Streaming service Disney+ launched November 12 with nearly 500 films, 7,500 television episodes, and an undetermined amount of anxiety around a handful of animated titles that contain culturally insensitive characters. From the flock of crows led by Jim in “Dumbo,” to the broken-English performance of the “Siamese Cat Song” in “Lady and the Tramp,” these films can be seen on Disney+ in their unedited, cringe-inducing glory, with the following caveat: “It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

It’s small gesture; it’s debatable if it will be seen (it appears at the end of the logline the viewer sees before clicking on the film), or if it really matters. I rewatched the crow sequence in “Dumbo” and was surprised to see how much airtime it received (10 minutes of a 64-minute film); I also laughed at how ridiculous it was.

But being ridiculous doesn’t necessarily make it harmless, which is why the studio’s editorial note is a smart one — not only as a reflexive gesture of self protection, but also because it shows that the 96-year-old brand has some measure of self awareness.

Over the last century, Disney made mistakes — some, repeatedly. “Song of the South” has been controversial since its 1946 release, although it was once a fixture on the original 1969-1979 run of NBC’s “The Wonderful World of Disney.” However, Disney+ will not offer the film, which portrays African Americans as racist caricatures and seems to glorify the plantation system of the post-Civil War South.

And then there’s the Native American stereotypes in “Peter Pan” (1953); Asian stereotypes in “The Aristocats” (1970); and “Jungle Book” (1967), with its jive-talking King Louie.

By contrast, the premier offering at the service’s launch was “The Mandalorian,” the “Star Wars” serial that features a Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Bill Burr, Omid Abtahi, Taika Waititi, Ming-Na Wen, and Werner Herzog. The series also boasts inclusivity behind the camera with episodes directed by Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa and Deborah Chow.

Among the originals being developed for Disney+ are “Diary of a Female President,” a series told through “the narration of a Cuban-American 12-year-old girl’s diary, as she navigates the ups and downs of middle school and her journey to becoming the future president of the United States; Marvel’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” which stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan; “Ms. Marvel,” a series focused on the Muslim Marvel character Kamala Khan; and a “Cassian Andor” series, based on the “Star Wars” character portrayed by Diego Luna.

It’s an extension of what Disney’s already done with films like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which feature diverse and inclusive casts, as well as “Black Panther,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” the “Avengers” franchise, and upcoming Marvel “Phase 4” projects like “The Eternals,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Ms Marvel.” Even the Disney princesses have grown increasingly diverse, with the additions of Jasmine (“Aladdin”), Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana (“The Princess and the Frog”), and Moana. And all of them, eventually, will be available on Disney+.

However, one area where the studio still lags is in its representation of the LGBTQ+ community. According to GLAAD’s 2019 Studio Responsibility Index , Disney “has the weakest history when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion” of all the major Hollywood studios tracked for the study.

Company reps promise that change is coming: “You’re gonna see even more new faces, and faces from all different backgrounds, all ages, all ethnicities, LGBTQ, people who are differently abled,” casting director Sarah Halley Finn told Vulture in April.

Additionally, Disney continues to introduce initiatives like its Launchpad: Shorts Incubator, which is designed to create opportunities for individuals with diverse perspectives including women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, military veterans, people with disabilities, various religious groups, and others.

There’s every reason to believe that Disney’s commitment to diversity is legitimate, especially since studies have all but confirmed that it’s good for the bottom line. Its decision to let the studio’s films stand in their original forms also honors that stance, if only to serve as reminders of Hollywood’s history of overt prejudice and marginalization. They need to exist as is, for the same reason that it would be a mistake to re-edit D. W. Griffith’s abhorrent “Birth of a Nation” to make it more palatable for modern audiences. To do so would be to pretend that the original film never existed, and recognition of its social impact — which still exists — would be rendered moot.

Microsoft’s first in-depth diversity report shows progress remains slow

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After years of publishing workplace demographic data, the software giant is digging further into its diversity and inclusion efforts.

Microsoft’s first full-fledged diversity and inclusion report tells a well-worn story in the world of tech. When it comes to increasing diversity, progress is slow.

Microsoft has been making public the gender, race and ethnic breakdown of its employees since 2014. With the new 47-page document, it’s going further in explaining its programs, partnerships and strategies for increasing diversity and inclusion.

“We wanted to be able to show our work and progress in both [diversity and inclusion], knowing that we are not where we want to be and we will worker harder to continue to be even better,” said Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Microsoft’s chief diversity officer.

Microsoft mirrors many fellow tech heavyweights in being largely white and male. Plus, the percentage of women in technical roles is low, and the percentage of underrepresented groups is even lower.

The tech industry has come under increased scrutiny for its lack of diversity from advocates and in the public eye. When companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple started publishing diversity reports around 2014, those reports put data behind what many assumed to be true: The tech industry is mostly white guys.

In the years since, progress has inched forward, sometimes by single percentage points from year to year. Microsoft’s diversity story hasn’t always been smooth. From 2014 to 2016, the percentage of women at the company shrank from 29 percent to just north of 25 percent. CEO Satya Nadella garnered criticism from diversity advocates and media attention in 2014 when he spoke at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and told the conference audience to have faith the system would give women raises along the way. He apologized publicly and in 2018 told CNET women should advocate for themselves.

This year’s numbers

Across Microsoft, the percentage of women globally rose from 26.6% to 27.6% since 2018. The percentage of men fell from 73.4% in 2018 to 72.3%. In the US, the percentage of black employees rose from 4.1% to 4.5%. The percentage of Native American and Alaskan Natives stayed flat at 0.5%. Asians account for 33.1% of employees, up from 31.9% last year. Hispanics gained slightly, coming in at 6.3%, up from 6%. The percentage of employees who identify as multiracial increased to 2.1% from 1.8%. Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders also stayed flat at 0.2%. Finally, the percentage of white employees dropped from 55.1% to 53.2%.

There are also technical roles to consider. Tech jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are some of the fastest-growing, highest-paying jobs in the country.

Major tech firms, including Microsoft, have struggled to hit even 30% of women in those jobs. Often, the percentages for underrepresented groups are even lower in this area than in the rest of any given company. Globally, the percentage of women in tech roles rose from 19.9% to 21.4%. In the US, the percentage of black employees increased from 2.8% to 3.3% . For Hispanics, the numbers rose from 4.5% to 4.9% , to give a few examples.

Not included in Microsoft’s report is intersectional data, like the percentage of women of color. Among tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Twitter and Facebook, only Google is offering those demographics. Diversity advocates point out the experiences of women of color differ than those of white women, in that they might experience not only gender- but also race-related discrimination, harassment or the like. They argue it’s a metric worth tracking. (read more)

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