Indigenous Peoples Day or Columbus Day? 14 states celebrate, honor Native American histories and cultures

October 12 is celebrated as Columbus Day in many American countries. It is marked to celebrate the day on which Christopher Columbus arrived in America back in the year 1492. The landing of the voyage on the New World is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States but the name varies on the international spectrum. But there is some controversy regarding this day being celebrated as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which is observed always on the second Monday in October. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. Now there’s always a debate about the two days and why Columbus day should not be celebrated at all. In this article, we bring you the common questions and answers to them regarding this celebration. Christopher Columbus Statue Pulled Down, Burnt, Thrown Into Lake by Black Lives Matter Protesters in Richmond, Virginia.

Who found America?

As much as people give credits to Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer for discovering American land, there are a set of theories that dismiss his finding. Some believe that Viking explorer Leif Erikson was the first one to set sails on this land in 1000 AD, nearly 500 years before Columbus. But Erikson and his crew did not stay long as they had hostile relations with natives of North America. Columbus Statues Vandalized on US Holiday Named for Him.

What Does Indigenous Day Mean?

Indigenous Peoples’ Day honours the Native American people and commemorates their history and culture. It is an official city and state holiday in various regions. It began as a counter-celebration held on the same day as the U.S. federal holiday of Columbus Day. In all, around 10 states observe some version of Indigenous Peoples Day in October, along with more than 100 U.S. cities. Washington, D.C., is celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day under a temporary measure in 2019.

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What is the Debate Between These Two Observances?

As mentioned above, Indigenous Peoples’ Day began as a counter-celebration to reject honouring of Columbus. Christopher Columbus’ involvement in slave trade and abuse of the indigenous people is why he does not want to be honoured or remembered. It also argues that Natives were already living in this part of the world from a thousand of years so Columbus cannot be remembered for “discovery” of it. His discovery instead brought other European explorers to Western Hemisphere with an idea of colonizing. This violence seen in the European colonialism and destruction and dislocation of ancestral lands of the natives is why Columbus Day celebrations are rejected. People even vandalized his statues to reject this celebration last year. 

When did Columbus Day become Indigenous Peoples Day?

Columbus Day is a US federal holiday that commemorates Christopher Columbus. It has been a federal holiday since 1934. In the year 1990, the state of South Dakota officially renamed this day to Native Americans’ Day to shift the focus and honour Indigenous peoples of South Dakota. In 1992, Berkeley in California held the first Indigenous Peoples Day after an organised protest. People successfully petitioned the city council to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Usually, this day sees big parades and luncheons organised to ring in the celebrations. But this time because of COVID-19 traditional festivities and parades have been drastically scaled down.

As Hollywood Moves Aims for More Diversity, Black Stunt Performers Seek More Visibility

Whether it’s jumping out of a building or driving a burning truck through traffic, there’s no question Black stunt performers are crucial to the success of all types of movies and shows. From “Tenet” to “Black Panther,” their death-defying work has helped several recent blockbusters deliver stunning action sequences.

However, their contributions are often overlooked. As the conversation about representation in all Hollywood disciplines grows, stunt casting, which isn’t often addressed, is finally getting a closer look.

Black performers, who regularly put their lives in danger, say the biggest barriers to greater visibility are employers not making the effort to widen their networks. The practice of “painting down” white stunt performers as stand-ins for performers of color, which continues to this day, has called attention to racist practices in the industry.

Spurred by events such as recent coverage of Michelle Rodriguez’s white stunt double in the “Fast and Furious” films, members of the stunt community issued a letter to SAG-AFTRA last week highlighting issues of racism, homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny.

Likewise, “Stargirl” actor Anjelika Washington called out a blackface incident as late as 2017 on her Instagram page. “My 4th job as an actor, my first recurring guest star, and my first time having a stunt double — and they painted her black,” she wrote this summer, helping kick off the conversation on diversity and representation.

Tiffany Abney, who has doubled for Gabrielle Union and Aisha Tyler — and fell off the “H” in the iconic sign in Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood’’ when she stood in for Laura Harrier — has also used social media to spotlight the world of stunts: “I called on my fellow Black stuntmen and stuntwomen to post pictures of themselves on social with actors they’ve doubled using the hashtags #BlackStuntWomenExist, #BlackStuntMenExist, #BlackStuntDoublesExist, #BlackStuntPerformersExist.”

The initiative drew responses not just from the stunt world but from actors Alfre Woodard, Nia Holloway, Jurnee Smollett and Shireen Crutchfield, who posted photos with their stunt doubles to raise awareness.

Abney got to know more stunt people than ever, she says: “I was able to find that many Black stunt people in 48 hours. I don’t know why it’s hard for stunt coordinators to find people of color.”

Black performers are hoping to move past the conversations surrounding misrepresentation. “I want to focus more on the light than the dark,” says “Black Panther” stuntman Terrence Julien. “That light being the strides Black stuntmen and Black stuntwomen are taking to make a change and rise above the challenges and barriers they face.”

But stunt performers don’t have agents working for them in the same way that leading actors do. Like many jobs in Hollywood, getting a gig in the stunt world depends more on who you know than on what you can do.

Stunt people of color say it’s hard to get a foot in the door. Julien, a trained marksman and scuba diver who doubled for Chadwick Boseman in “42” and for Marlon Wayans in “A Haunted House 2,” praises the late “Mission Impossible III” performer Conrade Gamble and Tom Elliot (“Criminal Minds”) for guiding him, but he says the old ways of doing business are hindering careers.

“Without agents pushing, stunt coordinators don’t know who you are,” he says. “They don’t know your capabilities, so you remain out of sight.”

Wonder Woman 84” stuntwoman Cheryl Lewis, who has doubled for Aunjanue Ellis, Alfre Woodard and Regina Hall, believes the decision about who gets the job starts before a director calls action. “If the writer doesn’t list the race or gender, the default casting is white male,” she says.

The situation won’t change until coordinators put more effort into researching other approaches to hiring. “A white male is hired as a coordinator,” Lewis says. “He doesn’t know what to do, so he asks another white male. They don’t know any Black female stunt performers.”

Stunt performers say it’s time to focus on nurturing the coming generations. Julien is working hard to guide up-and-coming stunt people in the same way that Gamble mentored him. “I want to make myself readily available for any Black stunt performer that comes my way,” he says.

Jadie David, who doubled for Pam Grier in 1974’s “Foxy Brown” and later appeared in “Sudden Impact” and “Escape from L.A.,” considers herself lucky to have gotten in the business at the start of the Blaxploitation era.

She credits fellow stuntman Bob Minor for putting her in movies. “Back then it was different,” she says. The question was about how to make things work once you had the job. “I needed to do a car hit, I would be training the week before, learning to do it,” David says.

While she was fortunate, she says as an African American woman she faced far greater obstacles than her white peers. But like Lewis, Abney and Julien, she sees it as vital to pay it forward.

“Women are working more because there’s so much exposure because of people who paved the way before them. They made everything we did worth it.”

Some performers are optimistic that the picture is changing. Abney has seen a spike in veteran stunt performers reaching out to newcomers. “They have so much experience to offer and to help someone else be better and to train a better way,” she says. “I appreciate that people are beginning to step up and take a leadership role.” 

U.S. government scrutinizes Microsoft’s hiring practices as tech giant looks to boost diversity

Microsoft in June announced a sweeping racial justice plan, including an initiative to spend $150 million on diversity and inclusion programs, and double its number of Black and African American managers and senior employees by 2025 in the U.S.

Now the United States Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is taking a closer look at the company’s hiring and whether it constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of race.

“We have every confidence that Microsoft’s diversity initiative complies fully with all U.S. employment laws,” Dev Stahlkopf, corporate vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post published Tuesday. “We look forward to providing the OFCCP with this information and, if necessary, defending our approach.”

The OFCCP asks Microsoft to “prove that the actions we are taking to improve opportunities are not illegal race-based decisions,” according to the company’s blog post.

We’ve reached out to the OFCCP to learn more about its inquiry and whether other tech companies were contacted. Google, Facebook, and others have made similar commitments in recent months.

Update: Here’s a statement from the OFCCP: “OFCCP appreciates Microsoft’s assurance on its website that it is not engaging in racial preferences or quotas in seeking to reach its affirmative action and outreach goals. OFCCP looks forward to working with Microsoft to complete its inquiry.”

The probe comes as President Trump aims to stop federal agencies from conducting anti-racism training. Trump signed an executive order last month on “combating race and sex stereotyping” in the federal workforce. Last week the Trump administration told federal agencies to suspend diversity training programs until they meet the guidelines laid out in the executive order.

Here’s more from Microsoft’s blog post:

“We are clear that the law prohibits us from discriminating on the basis of race. We also have affirmative obligations as a company that serves the federal government to continue to increase the diversity of our workforce, and we take those obligations very seriously. We have decades of experience and know full well how to appropriately create opportunities for people without taking away opportunities from others. Furthermore, we know that we need to focus on creating more opportunity, including through specific programs designed to cast a wide net for talent for whom we can provide careers with Microsoft.”

Microsoft in June also said that over the next three years it will double its number of Black-owned suppliers and spend an incremental $500 million with those companies; double its investment activity with Black-owned financial institutions, including a $100 million FDIC program; and establish a $50 million investment fund to support Black-owned small businesses.

It stands out as one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching initiatives announced by a tech company in response to the systemic racism and injustice exemplified by the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans.

Black and African American employees made up about 4.5% of Microsoft’s U.S. workforce as of last year, up 0.4 percentage points, according to the company’s 2019 diversity and inclusion report. The company said at the time that 2.7% of its executives were Black/African American, not including acquired companies such as LinkedIn.

In a memo sent to employees in June, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company will expand and strengthen its leadership development program to ensure that Black and African American employees are better positioned to move into management and executive roles.

Workplace training on key issues related to race and diversity are now mandatory for all employees. Executives at the corporate vice president level will work with dedicated diversity and inclusion coaches “to confront and resolve systemic obstacles within their organizations,” Nadella said.

Google made its own diversity-related announcement in June, committing to “improve leadership representation of underrepresented groups by 30 percent by 2025” among other initiatives to “build sustainable equity for our Black+ community,” according to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Facebook said it would double the number of Black and Latinx employees by the end of 2023, and have 30% more Black people in leadership positions over the next five years.

Google, Facebook, Netflix, and other tech giants also said they would spend millions to support Black-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and communities.Taylor Soper is GeekWire’s managing editor, responsible for coordinating the newsroom, planning coverage, and editing stories. A native of Portland, Ore., and graduate of the University of Washington, he was previously a GeekWire staff reporter, covering beats including startups and sports technology. Follow him @taylor_soper and email

The 2020 GeekWire Summit returns October 13-29, with an immersive and content-rich agenda that you will not want to miss!

The fully virtual 2020 GeekWire Summit will take place over three weeks, allowing attendees to digest the in-depth fireside chats, interactive panels and brainy power talks in consumable bite-sized chunks. Get your pass and access all of the great sessions, including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-chair Bill Gates, Expedia CEO Peter Kern, Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay, and Dreambox Learning CEO Jessie Wooley-Wilson; in addition to timely discussions about COVID-19 with leading health and biotechnology executives on the Regence health tech stage. This year, your GeekWire Summit pass allows you to participate in networking opportunities, discussion forums, polls and view sessions on-demand. Register for tickets, here.

New Study Finds Hollywood Studios Could Lose Money From Movies That Lack Diversity

It’s been said before, but it is worth saying again: diversity pays — but not in terms of checking boxes and tokenism. In a new report from the UCLA-based Center for Scholars and Storytellers titled “Beyond Checking A Box: A Lack of Authentically Inclusive Representation Has Costs at the Box Office”, researchers found that bringing authentic diversity to film improves financial performance at the box office while a lack of diversity can result in losses for studios.

Films like the Latino-fronted Pixar animated pic Coco, Marvel Studios’ Black Panther and Warner Bros’ Crazy Rich Asians proved that racially diverse casts can bring in highly profitable grosses at the box office, according to UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report produced by a group of UCLA researchers including Darnell Hunt, dean of the College’s division of social sciences. However, when it comes to writing and directing jobs, underrepresented voices still have quite a way to go.


AMC Theatres Will Remain Open Following Cineworld & Regal’s Temporary Shutdown

The report which was published today analyzed 109 movies from 2016 to 2019 and found that movie studios can expect to lose up to $130 million per film when their offerings lack authentic diversity in their storytelling. Researchers found that large-budget films (a budget of $159 million or more) are subject to a significant cost in the opening weekend box office for a lack of diversity.

They estimate a $159 million movie will lose $32.2 million, approximately 20% of the its budget, in first weekend box office, with a potential total loss of $130 million, 82% of its budget. For a $78 million budget movie will lose $13.8 million in its opening weekend for a lack of diversity, with a potential total loss of $55.2 million, 71% of its budget.

“We asked, what is the cost of lacking diversity? Hollywood is a business, and no business wants to leave money on the table,” said senior author Yalda T. Uhls, a UCLA adjunct assistant professor of psychology and founder and executive director of the Center for Scholars and Storytellers. “While increasing numerical representation behind and in front of the camera is critical, truly empowering people from diverse backgrounds is the key. For example, make sure the writers room is open to dissenting opinions, that a wide net is cast for hiring, and that younger, less-tenured voices are encouraged.”

In order to compile the data, the researchers used a metric for authentic and diverse storytelling called Authentically Inclusive Representation (AIR) that represents the inclusion of diverse voices, people and cultures both in front and behind the camera. Using Mediaversity Reviews, researchers ensured their ratings were comparable to another robust source of diversity ratings that captures numerical race and gender diversity in key cast members and writers, directors and producers. The researchers also compared Mediaversity ratings to the critical acclaim websites, Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes and found Mediaversity ratings are highly correlated with those of Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes.

To no surprise, small-budget films lead the charge when it comes to diversity, dramatically surpassing big-budget pics on AIR. The analysis looked at films such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight from 2016 (budget: $4 million, total box office: $26 million) and Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird from 2017 (budget: $10 million, total box office: $48 million).

“Storytelling that lacks AIR in race, gender and sexuality can have immediate and significant costs,” said Gerald Higginbotham, a UCLA psychology doctoral student, and co-author of the report.

The researchers analyzed the first weekend U.S. box office results because these numbers closely capture audience demand before word-of-mouth, reviews and the release of newer films impact attendance. Uhls points out that the first weekend box office, particularly for wide releases, typically accounts for about 25% of total box office. Any reduction in box office in the initial weekend would typically impact the film’s total financial success.

“While our findings are specific to box office, we believe we captured broadly the more immediate costs of lacking AIR, which is relevant to other kinds of releases and types of content,” Higginbotham said.

In the study, researchers offer recommendations, including:

  • Implement explicit norms and guidelines to ensure that all viewpoints will be shared.
  • Hire diverse casting directors who can bring in original and dynamic talent from underrepresented groups.
  • Bring in expertise at the beginning of the development process, not as a band-aid later on.
  • Include counter-stereotypical, multi-dimensional characters. Avoid stereotypes by portraying characters of color with rich identities.
  • If there is a writers room, ensure that all voices, viewpoints and experiences are heard and welcome.

“In light of the national conversation around systemic racism, it is well past time for entertainment media creators to think beyond on-screen numerical representation as a marker of ‘inclusivity and diversity,’ Uhls said. “Diverse representation in race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and their intersections, particularly behind the camera, is still lacking and slow to change. Without including a broader swath of voices on every level of a production, from set decorator or costume designer to director or actor, stories and characters will come across as stereotypical.”

Stephanie Allain, Founder Homegrown Pictures, said of the report: “I hope that executives will seriously consider these findings when deciding what to greenlight. I’ve spent my entire career supporting voices and content that are not often seen on the big screen. But it has always been a struggle and the budgets are typically smaller to validate the absurd fallacy that Black content doesn’t travel internationally.”

She added, “This study demonstrates that studios are leaving money on the table by not showcasing stories that are authentically diverse. Perhaps now is finally the time that Hollywood movies, which shape hearts and minds throughout the world, will start to reflect ALL of us in ways that resonate deeply with the multicultural audiences that make up the USA.”

As the film and TV industry — and the world for that matter — continue to have a reckoning when it comes to the lack of diversity and the silencing of underrepresented voices, the needle is moving when it comes to change and progress. It may be moving at a glacial pace, but it is change nonetheless. We are seeing steps to help achieve equity in film & TV with more programs for marginalized voices in front of and behind the camera as well as an increase in demand for accountability. One of the biggest attempts is from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which announced new standards of representation and inclusion for Best Picture that will gradually be put in place for the 94th (2022) and 95th (2023) annual Academy Awards, with the standards going into full effect beginning with the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.

US spy agencies face ‘shocking’ lack of diversity

Former CIA officers say diverse workforce needed to confront complex threats

For years, the intelligence community — made up of 17 federal agencies, including the CIA — has had one of the least diverse workforces in government, despite the fact that its mission is to analyze intelligence in dozens of languages and understand the nuances of diverse cultures in order to identify complex threats.MORE: Inside the CIA, secretive officers showcase artworks — and themselves

Just 26.5% of members of the intelligence agencies in 2019 were racial and ethnic minorities, up slightly from 26.2% in 2018, according to a new report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence obtained by ABC News.

The figures are below the level of representation across the federal government — 37.1% — and the civilian labor force — 37.4% — overall.

PHOTO: Douglas London, a 34-year CIA veteran who was stationed around the world, says systemic racism existed in the Agency during his tenure.
ABC NewsABC NewsDouglas London, a 34-year CIA veteran who was stationed around the world, says systemic racis…Read MoreDouglas London, a 34-year CIA veteran who was stationed around the world, says systemic racism existed in the Agency during his tenure.

“It’s a practical equation. It’s not even about right or wrong. It’s about what they need as a foreign intelligence service,” said Douglas London, a 34-year CIA veteran who was stationed around the world. “Our adversaries and enemies are not going to be privileged, white suburbanites walking around the streets in Southern California.”

“A large body of our spies are not really up to the challenge of dealing with different people and relating to them in an effective way,” added London.

The disparity has been more pronounced at the top. At the Central Intelligence Agency, the nation’s premier spy organization, just 10.8% of its leaders were people of color in 2015, according to a declassified report. The agency declined to provide ABC News with the latest figures.

“What was shocking to me was just the lack of representation of diversity in its senior ranks especially, but across the board in the (intelligence community),” said Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama, an eight-year member of the House Intelligence Committee.

“There’s a lot of lip service that goes on with talking about diversity and not enough action, intentional action,” Sewell told ABC News, “especially when you think about the fact that there are some (minority recruits) that come in and get diverted to administration roles and not into mission critical.”

Current and former intelligence agency leaders and officers, including members of both political parties, say the marginal improvement in diverse hiring and promotion in recent years is insufficient.

PHOTO: Retired CIA officer Darrell Blocker spent decades gathering intelligence overseas and helping recruit future American spies.
ABC NewsABC NewsRetired CIA officer Darrell Blocker spent decades gathering intelligence overseas and helping recr…Read MoreRetired CIA officer Darrell Blocker spent decades gathering intelligence overseas and helping recruit future American spies.

“I would never be satisfied with the numbers,” said Darrell Blocker, a retired CIA officer who is African American and spent decades gathering intelligence overseas and helping recruit future American spies in the U.S. “Diversity and inclusion training is extremely important.”

In cracking down on diversity initiatives, the White House denies there is deep-seated racial bias and white privilege and has outright banned race-related trainings at federal agencies, including CIA.

“I ended it because it’s racist. I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane,” President Donald Trump explained of his decision during the first presidential debate last month.

The CIA declined to say what steps, if any, it took in light of the president’s order ending the trainings, but top agency officials say initiatives aimed at increasing diversity in the workforce are active and remain a top priority.MORE: White House directs federal agencies to halt some race-related trainings

“Fostering diversity and inclusion is a key requirement for promotion into leadership positions, and we specifically train our officers how to create and maintain an inclusive workplace,” said Sonya Holt, deputy associate director of CIA for talent for diversity and inclusion.

“We routinely facilitate discussions with our global workforce to talk about the complexities of diversity,” Holt said.

PHOTO: Rep.Terri Sewell, D-Ala., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has seen marginal improvement in diverse hiring and promotion at CIA in recent years but says it's not enough.
ABC NewsABC NewsRep.Terri Sewell, D-Ala., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has seen marginal impr…Read MoreRep.Terri Sewell, D-Ala., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has seen marginal improvement in diverse hiring and promotion at CIA in recent years but says it’s not enough.

This summer, the CIA launched its first-ever national streaming video ad targeting young, minority potential recruits. The agency also continues to foster ties with Historically Black Colleges and Universities for job recruitment initiatives.

“We created strong partnerships with academic institutions with diverse populations to ensure students have continued access to CIA to learn about the Agency careers available to them,” said CIA chief of talent acquisition Sheronda Dorsey in a statement to ABC.

But after years of similar efforts, some wonder whether this latest push will be any more effective at attracting and retaining more diverse Americans as spies and analysts.

Former CIA officials say one of the biggest barriers is the stigma from the agency’s controversial history of alleged human experimentation, torture and assassinations.

“It’s a double-edged sword. The mystique is good. It helps us to have people think that we can do these things, but it also hurts us when they think we’re doing things that we’re not,” said Blocker of his efforts to help recruit minority hires late in his tenure.

PHOTO: Gina Haspel, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies during the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on "Worldwide Threats," Jan. 29, 2018.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP ImagesBill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP ImagesGina Haspel, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies during the Senate Select Intellig…Read MoreGina Haspel, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies during the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on “Worldwide Threats,” Jan. 29, 2018.

“You can get folks in the door, but it’s retaining them and promoting them,” said Sewell, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

“You will see this committee being engaged in setting benchmarks and goals and asking for more accountability by (having them give) us the numbers of ethic minorities broken down by ethnicity,” she said. “But those are all classified. Therein lies the problem.”MORE: ‘Singer Tailor Soldier Spy’: A CIA officer’s life as the frontman of one of Uganda’s top bands

Blocker said he’s optimistic the intelligence community is capable of evolving and that it’s imperative that they do because of the challenges of rapidly changing and complex threats.

“When I walked in the door in 1990, there were zero examples of a division chief. When I walked out the door: Asians, Latina, Latinex, Black, like myself, division chief,” Blocker said.

“I saw a lot of progress, but I don’t know if it’s sustainable progress,” he added. “The agency needs to understand that if you’re going to invest in some minority communities, you have to be there all the time.”

34 Major Companies—Including Wells Fargo, Amazon, Pfizer—Agree To Make Public Workforce Diversity Reports

Following calls to back up public commitments to corporate diversity with data, a group of 34 major companies have agreed to publish government reports detailing the composition of their workforces—a commitment that nearly half of all S&P 100 companies have now made.


Starting in July, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer led a national campaign calling on 67 S&P 100 companies to publicly disclose their annual EEO-1 Report data, which breaks down a company’s race and gender composition by 10 different job categories. 

“We’re asking companies that issued statements in support of racial justice to walk the walk and publicly disclose the demographics,” wrote Stringer in a letter to the CEOs of the S&P 100 companies.

Over half agreed to the commitment, the comptroller’s office announced, meaning nearly 50% of all S&P companies will be transparent about their workforce makeups (29 public companies disclosed this information beforehand, 14 of which are in the S&P 100). 

Though some of the list have already published the full government report—such as BlackRockTarget and Verizon—many, including a handful of the country’s largest banks, will be making the information public for the first time by March 2021.

Joining Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and U.S. Bancorp on the list of committed companies is Wells Fargo, whose CEO Charles Scharf recently drew backlash for blaming a “limited pool of Black talent” for trouble in reaching diversity goals. 


“It is not enough to condemn racism in words,” wrote Stringer in his announcement. “Systemic change in corporate America will require concrete action and accountability.” 


Months of Black Lives Matter protests across the country—starting after the May 25 death of George Floyd—invigorated calls for increased diversity in corporate America and resulted in new commitments from leading companies. “These events are symptoms of a deep and long standing problem in our society and must be addressed on both a personal and systemic level,” wrote BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink in May, echoing similar calls to action from other tech, finance and retail leaders. However, some companies have been criticized for publicly supporting the anti-racism movement without enacting meaningful change to stamp out inequalities. In top executive ranks, 85% of positions are held by whites, per a CNBC report, while the Economic Policy Institute found that women and minorities continue to earn less than their male colleagues. 


“As big corporations say ‘black lives matter,’ their track records raise skepticism” (The Washington Post) 

“Companies are making bold promises about greater diversity, but there’s a long way to go

California Rolls Out Diversity Quotas for Corporate Boards

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Wednesday that will require the boards of publicly traded companies based in the state to have at least one racially, ethnically or otherwise diverse director by 2021.

The new quota is the first of its kind in the U.S. and follows a similar California measure enacted two years ago that mandated female directors on all boards of the state’s public companies. The law is expected to have wide-ranging impact within the state’s borders and beyond, potentially sparking fresh debate and legislative efforts in other parts of the country.

“We have a vision about how this state could be an example for the rest of the country,” said Assemblyman Chris Holden, a co-author of the bill. “This is an opportunity to get people of color at the table where the decisions are made, where the culture is set.”

Under the new law, individuals who identify as Black, African-American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native, or who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, would be considered eligible for meeting the requirement.

The bill passed 56-8 in the assembly at the end of August; dissenters said it would violate equal protection provisions of the law.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Wednesday mandating board diversity.PHOTO: DANIEL KIM/PRESS POOL

More than 35% of California’s 513 public-company boards—185 companies—wouldn’t meet the new requirement of one director from a diverse background when it goes into effect in 2021, according to Equilar, a research firm that gathers data on executives and boards. By comparison, 20% of California-based public companies in the Russell 3000 index, which includes the majority of companies traded on major U.S. stock exchanges, had no female directors when the state mandated that women get directorships, according to Equilar.Number of racial and ethnic minorities on theboards of the top 10 public companies basedin California*Source: Equilar*Ranked by market valueAlphabetTeslaWalt DisneyAppleFacebookVisaNvidiaAdobeSalesforcePayPal0 directors1234

The new diversity rule requires a greater number of underrepresented minorities required on boards starting in 2022, and approximately 83%—or 423 public companies in California—wouldn’t be able to satisfy the requirement with their current boards, according to Equilar. In 2022, corporate boards with four or more members would have to include two people from underrepresented groups; boards with at least nine directors would have to include a minimum of three diverse directors.

Some supporters of the new law mandating diversity have been heartened by the outcome of California’s gender mandate for boards. Most public companies with all-male boards when that law was enacted two years ago have since added at least one woman, with the majority of those recruits being first-time directors, according to Equilar.

While a few organizations have filed lawsuits over the state’s gender mandate, the business community, by and large, hasn’t challenged the law, partly because institutional investors, such as BlackRock Inc. BLK +1.79% and State Street Corp. STT +0.94% , had called for greater gender diversity within the ranks of companies, including at the top.

While California’s move to mandate racial, ethnic and other types of diversity at the board level is unprecedented in the U.S., companies are facing increased pressure to diversify and make such disclosures in the midst of a growing emphasis by institutional investors on environmental, social and governance metrics, or so-called ESG.

Pinterest Inc. PINS +1.59% in August appointed veteran media executive Andrea Wishom as a director, adding a Black woman to its board. Bristol Myers Squibb Co. and Procter & Gamble Co. PG -0.18% also added Black directors to their boards this summer, including Derica Rice and Debra Lee, respectively.

In July, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer called on 67 public companies to disclose the composition of their workforces by race, ethnicity and gender. Earlier this week, 34 companies in the S&P 100 index complied, among them Inc., AMZN +1.34% General Motors Co. GM +0.10% PayPal Holdings Inc., PYPL +0.79% Coca-Cola Co. KO +0.20% and Pfizer Inc. PFE +0.26%

Mr. Stringer, who serves as investment adviser to the city’s retirement systems, which includes city employees and teachers, said he believes in the business case for more inclusion. “Greater diversity means greater long-term value for shareowners,” he said.

On a national scale, racial diversity of corporate boards is harder to track than gender. It is not clear how California plans to obtain information about companies based in the state.  Few companies disclose the ethnic makeup of their directors. According to the Conference Board and ESG data analytics firm Esgauge, 13% of S&P 500 companies and 4.9% of Russell 3000 companies disclose the race of each director on the board.

“The issue here is about getting the data,’’ said Matteo Tonello, the Conference Board’s managing director of ESG. “There’s just not enough detailed disclosure about this type of information.”

The focus on social justice and racism this year, following the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans by police, has prompted a wave of businesses to examine diversity within their ranks more closely.Share of Black individuals and other racialand ethnic minorities on Russell 3000boards since 2015Source: ISS ESG%Black individualsBlack directorshipsRacial and ethnic minorities2015’16’17’18’19’2002468101214

Earlier in September a group of public and private companies, including Zillow Group Inc. ZG +1.98% and Inc., joined a pledge to add a Black director to their board within a year or, if their boards already included a Black director, use their power to speak out on the issue. Earlier this week, companies including Albertsons ACI -0.14% Cos., Nordstrom Inc., JWN +3.52% Under Armour Inc., UA +2.13% Mastercard Inc. MA +1.57% and private-equity firm TPG joined an initiative formed by the Executive Leadership Council to increase representation of racially and ethnically diverse directors.

In August the Securities and Exchange Commission enacted new rules that touch on leadership and workforce diversity. The agency changed Regulation S-K, which focuses on nonfinancial reporting, to require companies to disclose material “human capital measures” and objectives for managing the business, though the regulation gives companies wide latitude to determine what to report.

“We will see significant progress in the coming months,” Mr. Tonello said of the recent, mounting efforts. “As companies make progress, they’ll be more willing to volunteer this type of information,”

Yet quotas aren’t cure-alls, said Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook Inc. FB +1.50% and founder of, an advocacy group for advancing women’s careers, during The Wall Street Journal’s Women In the Workplace digital conference Wednesday.

“Legal mandates can work,” said Ms. Sandberg, who also sits on Facebook’s board. “But I do think we have to realize the limitations.”

In Norway, for instance, women’s participation on corporate boards has been mandated for years. The hope was that participation at that level would result in more women in the C-suite, but that has not panned out, Ms. Sandberg noted.

These are the 10 companies tech employees want to work for most in 2020

Netflix has dethroned Google as the top tech company people want to work for in 2020, according to the latest Global Brand Health Report from the tech jobs marketplace Hired.

The report surveyed more than 4,100 tech professionals in August about what’s most important to them in a new job offer and employer.

Many of the top companies were well positioned to succeed during the pandemic given their product offerings, such as Netflix, which added more than 10 million global subscribers in the second quarter, no doubt boosted by the number of people seeking entertainment in quarantine.

Gone from the top 10 list compared with last year, meanwhile, are companies that have had their own share of issues handling the health and financial impacts of the pandemic, including Amazon and Airbnb.

Companies that have shown the ability to embrace remote work and support employees at home have benefited in their public perception. Twitter cracked the top 10 list this year, possibly boosted by CEO Jack Dorsey’s game-changing announcement that employees could work from home forever. The report also notes that Dorsey’s outspoken political views in a contentious political climate could also play a role. According to Hired, more than half of job candidates say a company CEO’s political views have a strong impact on their decision to accept a job.

Another notable newcomer to the top 10 ranking is Gitlab, a IT company that has always operated as a fully remote global workforce of 1,300 employees. Job seekers may be attracted to the company knowing it already has longstanding processes in place to provide an engaging remote work experience.

These are the top 10 tech companies people want to work for most, according to Hired.

1. Netflix

2. GitHub

3. Google

4. Slack

5. Microsoft

6. Apple

7. SpaceX

8. Tesla

9. Twitter

10. LinkedIn and Gitlab (tie)

Hired CEO Mehul Patel says remote-work adoption will become more widespread with time. Since January, he tells CNBC Make It the number of roles on Hired that are open to remote workers has tripled.

Despite the conditions of the pandemic, “companies are seeing that employees are happier and more productive when they’re home,” Patel says. “When they see that, they realize the option is a good way to keep teams motivated.”

More importantly, he adds, the option will allow tech companies concentrated in expensive cities like San Francisco and New York to broaden their pool of job candidates. Such efforts are not only a good way to improve the business, Patel says, but the move could signal to job candidates that they’re committed to diversifying a primarily White and male tech industry.

According to CNBC reporting, six years after many major tech companies began publishing annual diversity reports, few have moved the needle in improving representation of Black workers.

Some believe a new widespread adoption of remote work could move the needle forward.

Tangible effortsto make remote work more commoncould have a domino effect in improving workplace diversity, as well as employee morale and a strong ability to attract new talent, the Hired report suggests: 64% of respondents said a company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has a strong impact on their decision to take a job. Additionally, the two biggest red flags that dissuade candidates from accepting an offer include a bad company reputation or poor company culture.

Job candidates say they would like to see companies be transparent about pay equity, publish annual diversity reports and hire more women and people of color to C-suite and board positions in order to make a difference.

And as companies embrace remote staffers, they’ll also have to reconfigure what a company’s values look like when they aren’t on display in an office.

After salary, job candidates say they care most about the opportunity to learn new skills, company culture and leadership when they join an organization. Employers can demonstrate these values by committing a greater share of work hours and performance goals to career development training, or providing workers a stipend to attend conferences throughout the year, Patel says. One of the best examples of this he’s seen comes from the communications company Publicis Groupe, which created an internal job board for tech employees to find projects to work on in other divisions to expand their skill set and give them new opportunities.“You’re seeing companies step up and show how this is a culture that invests in you and develops your skills,” Patel says.

Instagram is building a product equity team and hiring a director of diversity and inclusion

Instagram logo is seen displayed on smartphone in this illustration photo taken Krakow, Poland on March 10, 2020. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Instagram  announced some changes it’s making that are geared toward advancing equity within its workplace. The changes come after Instagram in June spoke about elevating, rather than suppressing, Black voices in light of the killing of George Floyd.

“More than ever, people are turning to the platform to raise awareness for the racial, civic, and social causes they care about,” Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, wrote in a blog post. “It’s a big part of why we committed in June to review the ways Instagram could be underserving certain groups of people. We have a responsibility to look at what we build and how we build, so that people’s experiences with our product better mirrors the actions and aspirations of our community.”

For starters, the Facebook -owned company has created an Equity team to work on “better understanding and addressing bias in our product development” the experiences people have on Instagram, Mosseri wrote. Part of the responsibilities of that team include creating fair and equitable products, as well as ensuring algorithmic fairness. According to a job posting for an equity and inclusion product manager, the team will be fully focused on equity and inclusion, and “creating the most equitable experience for our global communities.”

Instagram is also looking to hire its own diversity lead. According to the job posting, the director of diversity and inclusion will be responsible for increasing and retaining people from diverse backgrounds, among other things. Facebook has had a head of diversity in place since 2013, but given how big of a company Facebook has become, it seems worthwhile to have a diversity leader specifically focused on Instagram.

Instagram says it has also updated its policies around implicit hate speech, such as depictions of blackface or stereotypes about Jewish people. Instagram says it will also now disable accounts that make serious rape threats, instead of just removing the content.

On the verification front, Instagram has also expanded its criteria to include more Black, LGBTQ+ and Latinx media. Instagram has also stopped automatically prioritizing verification for accounts with high followings.

Army Leaders Want to Keep Pace with Diversity in Changing US Population

Army personnel officials have unveiled a new plan to build diversity across the force, on the heels of a White House order that bans certain types of diversity training in the Defense Department.

The Army People Strategy: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Annex lays out the service’s plan to promote diversity through 2025 in an attempt to adapt to the country’s shifting demographics.

The document replaces the Army’s 2011 Diversity Roadmaps by setting multiple goals and objectives to ensure the service recruits and retains soldiers with “different experiences, values, and backgrounds, but also invests in the development and employment of our soldiers and civilians.”

The new DEI annex comes just two days after President Donald Trump issued an executive order that bans the Pentagon from using diversity training programs that might suggest an ideology that a specific group in society is viewed as the oppressors and that “racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.”- ADVERTISEMENT –

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Casey Wardynski, assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower & Reserve Affairs, told reporters Thursday that such an approach — putting one group ahead of another group — would be at odds with the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

The Army depends on a culture that is very clear about “how we plan to treat our people and how we expect them to treat each other and … through that culture, we build the cohesion to accomplish our mission,” Wardynski said.

While the Army has increased in diversity, it’s currently reflective of demographics in the job market across America, according to the document.

The Army officer corps is not as diverse as the enlisted corps in the same way as civilians who receive “wages grade or general schedule grades pay” are more diverse than individuals who make up the civilian senior executive population, it adds.

The new annex uses U.S. Census Bureau projections to show how the country will become more diverse by 2060. In 2019, the white demographic made up 60.4% of the population. The Hispanic demographic made up 18.3%; the Black demographic, 13.4%; and the Asian demographic, 5.9%, according to the document.

By 2060, the Hispanic demographic is projected to grow to 28.6%, the Black demographic will shrink slightly to 13%, and the Asian demographic will grow to 9.1%, it adds.

While the white demographic is projected to decrease to 43.6%, it will still be the largest demographic pool that the Army draws from as it tries to fill increasingly high-tech jobs to work on artificial intelligence and autonomous systems that will make up a large portion of the service’s modernization effort.

Army officials say they have already taken steps to offer opportunities to diverse sections of the youth population to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, programs in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

“We are in 10% of high schools in America; we are actually creating a STEM JROTC curriculum focused initially on cyber security and [computer] coding to build a bench of interest in those fields in a very diverse group of high schools across our country” Wardynski said.

The Army has also changed the way it assigns officers to specific career branches at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and at Army Cadet Command, he added.

“It used to be, you picked your branch based on your standing in your class, which was really industrial … and we had problems getting the talent in the branches we wanted, where we thought it would fit best,” he said.

Engineering students at West Point tend to have a lower standing in their class based on grade point average, compared to cadets who major in law, Wardynski said.

“Now, the branches look at many, many attributes, over 20, to identify talent that they ought to have in their branches [and] market them to the graduation cadets at West Point and ROTC,” he said. “The graduating cadets market their attributes to the branches to be selected, and we get a talent match, much as you would find in industry.”

The service’s effort to increase diversity across the force really gained momentum in 2008 with the establishment of the Army Diversity Task Force. That led to the 2011 Army Diversity Roadmaps and the 2019 launch of the Equity and Inclusion Agency, officials said.

In late June, Army leaders launched Project Inclusion, an effort to eliminate bias in the ranks, beginning with removing official photos from promotion board packages.

The new DEI annex sets goals for increasing leader accountability for fostering diversity at all levels of the Army. Those include developing procedures to increase awareness of diversity and inclusion, as well as measuring the overall effectiveness of the effort, the document states.

The annex will also develop new DEI training and education programs for each career stage for Army personnel and civilians, from entry-level to senior positions of command, according to the document.

In the past, Army officials have talked about diversity in a very “one-dimensional way,” said Anselm Beach, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Equity and Inclusion

“We have talked about it through a very visual kind of construct, and with the Army People Strategy: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Annex, what we are actually doing is moving away from that visual construct,” Beach said. “I think we are on the right path; as we learn more, we pivot and we change and we become better.”

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