Tuesday, July 31, 2012

NBCUniversal Office of Diversity & Inclusion Names Sal Mendoza, Vice-President, Diversity & Inclusion

Originally Published: July 31st, 2012

new-nbc-universal-logo"NBCUniversal announced that Sal Mendoza has been named Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, reporting to Craig Robinson, Executive Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer. In this new position, Mendoza will be responsible for the development of long-term strategies in the areas of workforce, community investment and management of the NBCUniversal employee resource groups, with a focus on enhancing the company's diverse and inclusive environment.

Mendoza comes to NBCUniversal from Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, where he most recently served as VP, Global Diversity and Inclusion. In his fifteen years at Hyatt, he worked to integrate the company's diversity & inclusion strategies across recruitment, staffing, employee and labor relations, learning & development, procurement, employee network groups and communications. In addition, he was responsible for building and maintaining partnerships with national and international diverse organizations on behalf of Hyatt's global workforce of more than 80,000 employees. "Sal's impact on Hyatt's culture is reflected in their many diversity and inclusion awards throughout his tenure", said Robinson. "We have one of the best teams in the business and Sal's addition will help us in achieving our goal to be the industry leader and employer of choice in the media and entertainment industries."

"At 14, I came to this country from Honduras", said Mendoza. "Not speaking the language and having to adapt to a new culture and environment was an incredibly formative experience that sparked my passion for diversity and inclusion. My career is grounded with experiences that began in my college years, working with the LULAC National Educational Service Centers, mentoring high school students in the Hispanic community to help them obtain a college education, recruiting and working with several multicultural programs at two universities, and, most recently, with Hyatt. As I begin this next chapter, I am thrilled to be joining NBCUniversal, a company that has long been a pioneer in creating content and platforms that give voice to an array of diverse perspectives."

Mendoza received a B.S. from Chicago State University and M.S. from Governors State University. Among his many accolades, he has been recognized as one of Hispanic Business Magazine's 100 Most Influential Hispanics, the Black Meetings & Tourism APEX Award for Distinguished Service, the Disability Champion Award and Chicago State University's Latino Alumni Award. He will be relocating to New York with his wife Nina and their children Daniel and Vivian.
About NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal is one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.

This article was pointed to us by on Twitter, who we strongly encourage you to follow for more diversity, leadership, H.R., and multicultural marketing content.

Feds Make Dent In Hiring Goal

by Michelle Diament
Originally Published: July 31st, 2012

"The nation’s largest employer is making progress in hiring people with disabilities but still has a way to go toward fulfilling a plan calling for 100,000 new hires in five years.

Nearly 19,000 people with disabilities were hired by federal agencies during the 2011 fiscal year, according to a new report. That brings the total number of employees with disabilities to over 200,000, the most in 20 years.

The statistics come some two years after President Barack Obama issued an executive order calling on the federal government to add 100,000 new workers with disabilities by 2015.

“We still have a long way to go to meet the president’s 100,000 benchmark but we’re well underway,” said John Berry, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which issued the report. “I’m confident that we’ll not only meet that goal, but that we will also add talented individuals to our team along the way.”

In an effort to reach the president’s goal, officials at Berry’s agency say they’ve trained more than 3,000 federal workers to recruit people with disabilities.

Nonetheless, a report issued in May by Congress’ investigative arm found serious deficiencies in federal hiring practices.

Specifically, the Government Accountability Office report indicated that many agencies have inadequate plans to increase disability employment and said that more training is needed so that government workers know how to accommodate those with disabilities."

Battling Perceptions About Minority- and Woman-Owned Businesses

by Adriana Gardella
Originally Published: July 31st, 2012

Jessica Johnson"At the most recent meeting of the She Owns It business group, Jessica Johnson expressed frustration with the way her company is sometimes perceived. The issue involves small businesses that are certified as being minority-owned, woman-owned or disadvantaged (a business certified as disadvantaged must be majority owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals as defined here.). As it happens, Ms. Johnson’s company, Johnson Security Bureau, is all three. This means, among other things, that on state contracts, prime contractors can consider using Johnson Security to satisfy subcontracting goals that call for the use of such firms.

Generally, this is good news for Johnson Security, which is a subcontractor on several projects for much larger security and construction companies. Part of Johnson Security’s successful growth strategy has involved taking on these jobs in addition to its prime contracts. But they come with challenges that include battling the impression that certification programs give these companies a “handout,” Ms. Johnson said.

“It’s an expensive process to become certified,” she told the group. “It’s not like you say, ‘Hey, I’m a woman, let me flash you,’ and then you get the certificate.” The certification process is rigorous, requiring site visits and the submission of paperwork including tax returns and business licenses.

“And you have to be in business a certain amount of time,” added Deirdre Lord, a group member who owns The Megawatt Hour. That’s not an issue for Johnson Security, which has been around for 50 years.

“You have to be a real business — they scrutinize everything,” Ms. Johnson said.
Once a certified business is hired, it is held to the same standards as the prime contractor, Ms. Johnson added during a later conversation.

Despite subcontracting requirements, Ms. Johnson said many big companies dodge their obligations by claiming they made a good faith effort to retain a certified small business, but couldn’t find a qualified one. She said she recently met the owner of a certified woman-owned business that was capable but desperate for work. In fact, she couldn’t even get prime contractors to return her calls. “I could relate to her, because a few years ago that could have easily been me,” Ms. Johnson said.

“So how did you change that up?” asked Beth Shaw, a business group member who owns YogaFit.

“I didn’t take no for an answer,” Ms. Johnson said. She said she kept calling every organization with which her company had certification to ask about coming jobs. She attended meetings and outreach events, site visits and prebid conferences. She got to know the prime contractors. And she eventually convinced many of them that her company could do the job, she said.

So what’s the problem? Ms. Johnson was reluctant to discuss specifics for fear of alienating the contractors that hire her. “We’ve recently run into some issues,” she said vaguely, adding that she hoped to be able to discuss the details in a future business group session.
But in a conversation after the meeting, Ms. Johnson explained that she typically faces two major challenges when working with prime contractors as a certified business. The first arises from cultural differences between Johnson Security and the larger companies. As a small-business owner, Ms. Johnson said, she is responsible for everything — big-picture issues as well as the small stuff. Unlike the owner of a larger company, she said, “I don’t have the luxury of not being hands-on.”

This means she often finds herself dealing with employees at many levels of the larger organizations. While a prime contractor’s top person may not be aware of the details Ms. Johnson needs to discuss, a lower-level manager may lack answers to broader questions, such as, “What does the contract require?” Sometimes, the lower-level employees who see Ms. Johnson come to think of her as “Jessica,” their peer, instead of as “Ms. Johnson,” the owner of a business.

The second challenge is battling misperceptions about the capabilities of certified businesses, she said. Ms. Johnson said she recently attended a meeting and was dismayed to hear members of the prime contractor’s staff say, “Wow, you guys are so professional.” Why, she wondered, would they expect anything else?

She believes these perceptions are at least partly a result of big companies’ misrepresenting the abilities of certified businesses during the bidding process in the hopes of winning the entire contract.

“If I get my millions, I’m going to find a way to pay it forward to other small businesses,” she said."

5 ways workplace discrimination can be costly

by Sheryl Smolkin
Originally Published: July 31st, 2012

Moneyville"The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in employment on 14 prohibited grounds including race, gender and disability. If you have been fired  or mistreated as a result of one of these forms of discrimination, one way to obtain compensation is to file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

In a recent blog, the MacLeod Law Firm discussed five things every employer should know about the Ontario Human Rights Code. Because much of this information is also relevant to employees, we share an edited version of that list with you below.

1.   The costs of a human rights complaint

Anyone can file a human rights complaint and it costs nothing to do so. On the other hand, the costs for an employer defending a complaint can be high. You will generally not be ordered to pay the employer’s legal costs, even if you are not successful.

The best time to settle a claim is at mediation. The Tribunal offers three hours of free mediation to all claimants. If your case cannot be settled, you have the right to force a case to a hearing.

However, if you lost your job as a result of discrimination, there are several other forums where you can seek redress from your employer. Get legal advice to find the best way to proceed.

The Law Society Referral Service will give you the name of a lawyer or paralegal within or near your community, who will provide a free consultation of up to 30 minutes to help you determine your rights and options.

2.    Damages claims available

There are two types of damages that can be awarded in human rights cases:  special damages and general damages.

Lost income is one example of special damages. If you claim you were fired based on your gender, then you can ask for termination pay. As compared to wrongful dismissal awards in the courts, damages for termination pay can be much greater under the Code.

In one case, a 58-year-old man claimed he was discriminated against because of his age. An adjudicator agreed and awarded him 7 years pay. A superior court judge in a wrongful dismissal case typically would not order more than 24 months pay to even a long-service employee.

General damages are to compensate employees for suffering humiliation and loss of self-respect experienced as a result of discrimination. A number of factors are considered by the Tribunal when assessing general damages and since 2008, the Tribunal has had the jurisdiction to award unlimited general damages. As of January 2012, general damage awards have ranged from approximately $1,000 to $40,000.

3. Your employer must investigate all claims

The Tribunal can and will order an employer to pay you damages for failing to adequately investigate a human rights complaint, even when you have not been subject to any discrimination. For this reason many organizations have implemented a written anti-discrimination policy which outlines procedures that must be followed when the company becomes aware of possible workplace discrimination.
4. What accommodating a disability means

If the Tribunal finds you have a disability, your employer is required to accommodate your disability unless doing so would cause undue hardship. However, the onus is on you to disclose that you have a disability and to explain how your disability can be accommodated.

For example, if you have a bad back and need a specific chair, you must inform your employer of your limitations and suggest the type of chair that would allow you to work comfortably. Then your employer is required to accommodate you.

The Commission has issued guidelines on disability and the duty to accommodate.

5. Ignoring a Human Rights complaint is a bad idea

The case law confirms that it is not wise for employers to ignore human rights complaints. In a March 2011 decision, Myriam Llano filed a complaint against Fairweather Inc. claiming the employer did not accommodate her bad back.

In spite of several medical notes indicating she needed to work sitting down as a cashier, the company decided all employees had to work as sales associates on the floor. Liano was reduced to part-time hours and eventually terminated when she could not perform as expected.

Fairweather filed a response to her complaint and attended mediation but decided not to show up for the hearing. Not surprisingly, the Tribunal found in her favour. She asked for and was awarded 12 months lost wages. She also received $ 20,000 in general damages for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect."

'Zero Gravity Thinkers' Are The Key To Innovation

by Vineet Nayar
Originally Published: July 31st, 2012

"As corporate leaders around the world seek to build sustainable businesses, there is no doubt that innovation lies at the heart of the solution. But there is a nagging question that’s been cropping up in the debate: Does experience kill innovation?

While there is no questioning the value of experience in many respects, there is a school of thought that looks at experience as an ever-expanding rear-view mirror that constantly draws attention to the path traveled, rather than the unknown and limitless possibilities on the way forward.

Former Intel innovation strategist Cynthia Barton Rabe writes in her book The Innovation Killer that when it comes to innovation, "ExpertThink" and "GroupThink" are the twin innovation killers. Experience and best practices that have been the pillars of success so far, can often slow down the pace of innovation and disruptive change.

So how do you circumvent this paradox? Bill Taylor, book author and co-founder of Fast Company magazine, propounds the virtues of ‘vuja dé’ to counter it. In his blog, Don’t Let What You Know Limit What You Imagine, Taylor says, we have all experienced déjà vu — looking at an unfamiliar situation and feeling like you’ve seen it before. Vuja dé is the flip side of that — looking at a familiar situation (a field you’ve worked in for decades, products you’ve worked on for years) as if you’ve never seen it before, and, with that fresh line of sight, developing a distinctive point of view on the future.

Rabe’s answer to the paradox is to populate organizations with “zero-gravity thinkers” whom she characterizes as innovators who are not weighed down by the expertise of a team, its politics, or “the way things have always been done.”

The idea is to induce some fresh thought. I believe this fresh thinking is available within an organization, right in the core value zones, waiting to be discovered. These are the young minds at the frontlines, interacting with your customers. They have the knowledge and the expertise, but they carry their burden lightly. They are often quick to imagine new possibilities, new solutions, believing in their power to find a better way forward.

My company has been witnessing this in our very midst. Several years ago, we transferred the responsibility for change from executive management to our people who operate on the front lines and interact daily with our customers. We call this point of intersection the “Value Zone”.
Following this transformation, we’ve seen a veritable flood of ideas that have both fueled organizational innovation and aided our bottom line. These include:

MadJam or Make A Difference (MAD) – an initiative to promote innovative ideas in the workplace under which people across the organization offer suggestions and solutions for change. Last year, 900 employees across 377 ‘idea teams’ submitted business- and technology-based transformational solutions. 94 ideas were shortlisted, based on a poll by their colleagues, to present their ideas to a jury. The ideas selected and implemented are expected to create more than $25 million in value for our business.

Meme  – an internal social networking platform created and used by employees to connect, share, learn and grow — serves as an avenue to share thoughts and ideas with co-workers. Through this network, our employees address the needs of a multi-generational workforce, including aspects of gender, culture, ability, work life continuity, leisure, values, and beliefs besides professional problems.

Green Warriors, an employee volunteer network that collaborates with administration and infrastructure teams, advocates for the implementation of green activities. Some 1,200 “warriors” conducted eco audits of their workplaces this year to assess the state of resources consumed in company-owned facilities with recommendations for actions that can be adopted by employees to contribute to Green operations. Several of these will be implemented this year.

Perhaps nobody knew more about innovation than the late Steve Jobs. According to Jobs, innovation has nothing to do with your R&D budget. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. “It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led and how much you get it,” said Jobs.

As we transfer the responsibility of change to our employees, we have no doubt they will find the most innovative way forward to smarter systems and a smarter business for a smarter and sustainable world."

The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for People With Disabilities

Originally Published: July 2012

"What makes a company a good employer for people with disabilities (and their allies)? It isn’t just accommodations and flexible work schedules, although those are certainly important. Information collected as part of The 2011 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity survey shows these companies make a concerted effort to recruit, retain and promote people with disabilities and to create an inclusive corporate culture for people with both physical and hidden disabilities.

To determine this list, we used information submitted to the DiversityInc Top 50 on employee-resource groups (ERGs) for people with disabilities, workplace accommodations and work/life benefits, and recruitment and talent-development efforts aimed at people with disabilities. We also examined supplier-diversity initiatives aimed at businesses owned by people with disabilities (and certified by the US Business Leadership Network) as well as veterans with disabilities. And we looked at the company’s websites, philanthropic efforts, diversity training and outreach to customers/clients.

Here are some facts about these top 10 companies:
  • All of them have employee-resource groups for people with disabilities vs. 72 percent of the DiversityInc Top 50 and 40 percent of all survey participants (there were 535 participants this year)
  • They average 7.1 percent of employees as members of their disabilities ERG vs. 2.9 percent for the DiversityInc Top 50
  • All of them have formal recruitment programs for people with disabilities vs. 82 percent of the DiversityInc Top 50
  • Sixty-two percent of them do business with certified suppliers owned by people with disabilities vs. 32 percent of the DiversityInc Top 50
Here are the top 10 plus a notable fact about each of them:

No. 1: IBM

IBM’s inclusive attitude toward employees with disabilities extends to the senior-most levels of the company. What sets IBM apart is that its efforts aren’t just about bringing in people with disabilities but are also focused on creating global opportunities for advancement.

No. 2: KPMG

KPMG has a strong disabilities employees-resource group and excellent mandatory diversity training. To commemorate Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, the firm’s Disabilities Network group held a training, called Learning Disabilities: Enhancing Our Understanding, which helped employees understand how having a learning disability can impact a person’s life at work.

As a healthcare company, Kaiser clearly cares about people with disabilities, but the company goes way beyond that for its employees. Its benefits are amenable to accommodating disabilities and its disability employees group has been in existence for more than 10 years and includes 5 percent of the total employee population.

No. 4: Aetna
No. 19 in the DiversityInc Top 50. Also No. 4 in The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees

Aetna’s commitment to people with disabilities is clearly part of its business mission. CEO and President Mark Bertolini has a disability and is an outspoken advocate for people with disabilities.

Ernst & Young’s website says it all: “Looking for a disabilities-friendly workplace?” The firm’s AccessAbilities effort about building “an enabling environment for people with disabilities” includes accessibility, internal communications, meetings, training, technology, education on disability-appropriate etiquette and language and inclusive work habits, and raising awareness of non-visible disabilities.

The consumer-products company has exceptional benefits that accommodate flexible work schedules and has had a disability employee-resource group for more than 10 years.

Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Deborah Dagit is a major advocate for people with disabilities. The company has a strong resource group for employees with disabilities and is a philanthropic supporter of Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD).

No. 8: Deloitte

Deloitte is a leader in flexible benefits that benefit people with disabilities. The company also has a strong employee-resource group and thorough diversity training throughout the organization.

No. 9: Sodexo

Sodexo’s philanthropy includes a strong percentage for disability organizations. In addition, the company’s training and mentoring are highly attuned to cultural competence for an inclusive organization, including people with disabilities.

Starwood’s philanthropy also includes disability organizations. The company has excellent benefits as well as an active resource group for employees with disabilities.

99% of Quebec mothers take maternity leave

Originally Published: July 31st, 2012

"Average leave lasts 48 weeks: Statistics Canada

In Quebec, almost all (99 per cent) children aged one to three had a mother who took some form of leave following the birth of their child, according to a Statistics Canada report looking at 2010-11.

On average, this leave lasted 48 weeks. (Quebec has its own parental benefits program — the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan — which differs from the Employment Insurance (EI) program available in other provinces and territories. )

For the rest of Canada, most (90 per cent) children had working mothers who took some type of leave following the birth of their child. On average, the leave lasted 44 weeks, said Leave practices of parents after the birth or adoption of young children.

About one-quarter (26 per cent) of these children had working fathers who took leave; their average leave was 2.4 weeks. For some parents, this was a combination of paid and unpaid leave.

“For the majority of children, differences in fathers’ ability to obtain paid leave appear to influence leave patterns. For example, the average length of paid leave for Quebec fathers was 5.5 weeks, while for non-Quebec resident fathers it was 1.7 weeks,” said authors Leanne Findlay and Dafna Kohen.

Children whose mothers did not report taking any leave (10 per cent of the total) were more likely to be from a lone-parent family, have a mother with less education or have a mother with a lower income compared with children whose mother did take leave

About 83 per cent of children had mothers who reported they took paid leave, and 21 per cent had mothers who reported unpaid leave. The average length of paid leave was 40 weeks, while the average for unpaid leave was 4.5 weeks.

“Mothers who were working full time were more than twice as likely to take paid leave as mothers who were working part time, but equally likely to take unpaid leave. Mothers who worked shifts had lower odds of taking any unpaid leave than those who worked regular hours,” said the report.

In Quebec, about 97 per cent of children had mothers who reported they took paid leave, while 21 per cent reported unpaid leave. Among all children, a slightly higher proportion of those in Quebec (72 per cent) had mothers who worked after the birth or adoption than those in the rest of Canada (67 per cent).

Fathers took leave in the case of about three-quarters (76 per cent) of children in Quebec. Mothers of children living in Quebec took about five weeks more leave than their counterparts elsewhere in Canada, and fathers took about three weeks more than their counterparts.

A number of factors, including socio-economic and child and maternal health characteristics, were associated with whether mothers and fathers took leave and with the length of leave, said the report.

With respect to health characteristics, mothers who reported post-partum depression had higher odds of taking leave. They took significantly longer leave than mothers who did not report postpartum depression."

Smartphone apps connect Hamilton Muslims with Islam

by Lakshine Sathiyanathan
Originally Published: July 31st, 2012

More Muslims are using smartphone applications to help them observe religious ceremonies."Affaf Ahtisham receives an alert on his iPhone.

It is not a text message. Rather, it is one of five daily reminders for the 23-year-old to pray.

Ahtisham uses iPray — an iPhone app — that is among a host of smartphone offerings that aid Muslims in the observance of Islamic rituals.

“We can be connected and are able to look up something, such as text from the Quran, at a moment’s notice, and anywhere,” says Ahtisham, the co-chair of the youth committee at the Muslim Association of Hamilton and a recent McMaster University graduate.

At sunrise — one of five prescribed prayer times — Ahtisham receives his cue to pray. If in a new, unfamiliar place, he will use the compass embedded in the smartphone app to pinpoint the direction of Mecca.

But he cautions that the app is an aid before prayer and typically, is not used during prayer.

“All practicing Muslims have a few small chapters or verses from the Quran memorized, which they recite during the prayers, so they usually do not use aids like the physical book, or for that matter, an app, while praying,” says Ahtisham.

Digital devotion

Islamic smartphone apps are nothing new. Several smartphone apps, including iPray and iQuran, developed by England-based Guided Ways Technologies Ltd. have won worldwide popularity within the Muslim community.

“During the first week of Ramadan, we have a sudden surge of downloads of these Islamic apps,” says Fahad Gilani, operations manager and lead developer at Guided Ways Technologies.

Gilani says downloads of Islamic apps during Ramadan rises upward 10 times the ordinary rate.

“During the month of Ramadan, people tend to spend more time with prayer and spend more time in the mosque,” he says.

The app maker offers at least a dozen smartphone apps available on all three major platforms that range from free to a couple of dollars.

Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan can use smartphone apps to provide a reminder for a daily prayer, recite a daily prayer or read the Quran.

Though, the smartphone apps are not solely to mark Ramadan. For believers, there are Islamic apps that help its users learn accurate Arabic pronunciations of a daily prayer, locate the nearest restaurant offering Halal foods or pinpoint qiblah, the direction that Muslims face when engaged in prayer — all on a smartphone.

Similarly, smartphone apps exist to enable believers of every religious stripe to read holy book verses, receive prayer reminders or locate the precise direction of prayer.

Unlike in the Muslim world, Canadian mosques do not broadcast daily calls to prayer from external speakers. But depending on the smartphone app, it will sound the call to prayer.

“Before I started using these apps, I would not remember to pray at the appropriate time,” says Ahmad Iqtidar Manzoor, 17.

“I would just completely forget about it in my busy day and regret it later.”

“It really makes me compare what I am doing with my religious priorities and leads me to pray,’ Manzoor says.

Traditionally, the Quran is toted in a pocket or purse. But Gilani says, increasingly, Muslims are opting to use the smartphone app.

“When they’re on the bus or when they’re waiting in the line or just free during a lunch break, they just pull out their phone, which they always have with them and pull out the app they want.”

Ahtisham says his smartphone app has replaced the pocket Quran he would carry day-to-day. Now, with the swift swipe of his thumb, he can read the religious text of Islam at anyplace.

“Since I got my smartphone, I would just turn it on and read through it,” he says.

No substitution

Gilani says their suite of smartphone apps is available in at least 14 languages, including English, Urdu and Farsi.

“There’s a need to be able to read the Quran in your language and essentially, the translation is important,” Gilani says.

Translations, Manzoor says, are especially useful because he is not fluent in Arabic.

“It makes me understand what they really mean by offering translation in English, which leads me to really feel what I am saying and make a connection with it,” he says. Ahtisham, who is also not fluent in Arabic, agrees.

“I can only catch things here and there so I do need the translations and also the commentary.”

Even still, he says, the smartphone app cannot substitute Islamic teachings by an elder.
“That human element is sometimes still missing from apps.”

“I need someone to verify that my pronunciation is right because I think I’m getting it right but I might not be,” he says. “I do need a teacher or tutor to check up on me to see if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and not making mistakes.”

So accustomed to the reminder for a daily prayer, Manzoor says he is likely to forget without it.

“We might get so dependent on these apps that if we were to live without them, we would forget a lot of our religious duties,” he says. “If one day this app doesn’t remind me, I won’t remember it myself.”

Sanctity and skeptics

Gilani downplays concerns of dependency.

“It’s become more accessible and I think the more accessible a thing is, the more people want to use it,” he says.

Yet for all his enthusiasm, Gilani acknowledges limiting factors still exist. He recalls the early years of the app development and worry over preserving the sanctity of Islam.

Some considered carrying a smartphone with a Quran smartphone app in a restroom disrespectful, because you must be clean to handle the sacred text, he says.

“If you were in a restroom, for example, you wouldn’t recite the Quran anyway,” he says. “You would wait until you’re in a clean place to recite it.”
Gilani likens the smartphone app to memory.

“You switch it on when you want to use it. You recite the Quran when you want to recite it and you switch it off and that’s it.”

The app maker consults with religious leaders and scholars to ensure accuracy of the smartphone apps, he says.

“We got to ensure whatever we provide is 100 per cent accurate.” “We do make sure that we get the right people involved when we’re making the app.”

Tradition and technology

Gilani says Islamic smartphone apps have increased the accessibility of Islam to believers.
“We preserve it in a digital form,” he says.

Among its worldwide users, Gilani says, smartphone app users tend to be in their 20s, he says, but the sheer accessibility of the apps is drawing older users, too.

“In a way, we’ve increased the respect that we have for the book,” he says. “We’ve increased the amount of normal users.”

Ahtisham says accessibility is key, especially in Hamilton, where Islamic bookstores are scarce, forcing some to make a trek to Toronto.

That is something Manzoor says his parents appreciate.

“Because of their busy schedules, they sometimes forget to remind us of our religious duties and in that case, these apps help us remember and complete our religious duties,” he says.

Ahtisham says Islamic smartphone apps are much like its non-religious counterparts.

“With technology, it’s just like anything else,” he says. “There’s always the good side and the bad side.”

“If we’re using technology on a wiser note, then definitely, it really does help us connect with our faith better.”

10 talks from inspiring teachers

Originally Published: July 31st, 2012

Stephen Ritz with two students and their edible walls"Professor John Keating of “The Dead Poets Society.” Calculus teacher Jaime Escalante of “Stand and Deliver.” Marine-turned-teacher Louanne Johnson of “Dangerous Minds.” Hollywood might want to take note of a new award-winning teacher on the block, Stephen Ritz, who gave this fast-paced, highly inspiring talk at TEDxManhattan.

A parent and teacher in the South Bronx, Ritz has noticed his students getting larger and more sickly over the years, not to mention the fact that they’re parsing fewer options for earning a living. So Ritz began working with his students to grow “indoor edible walls,” beautiful living murals, full of greenery. Not only does food from the walls get served in the school cafeteria as well as in local shelters — creating the walls has become a full-scale business for Ritz’s students. The project has snowballed into designing an office wall in Boston, building green roofs in South Hampton, making gardens for 100 other New York City schools and even installing a large wall in Rockefeller Center.

“Kids from the poorest Congressional district in America can build a 30 x 15 foot wall — design it, plant it, and install it in the middle of New York City,” says Ritz. “This is the new green graffiti.”

Since starting the edible wall project, Ritz has seen his kids’ attendance jump from 43 to 90 percent. Through the project, one of his students became the first in his family to open a bank account. His students have developed relationships with local contractors through the project, and have gone on to lucrative jobs in their area.

“I’m putting the bake sale to shame,” says Ritz, explaining that more projects are in the works for his students, including growing pumpkin patches in New York City subways and planting mini farms along major city roads.

In honor of Ritz’s work watch nine more talks from truly inspiring teachers after the jump.

Arthur Benjamin: Teach statistics before calculus
Arthur Benjamin makes numbers dance. A math professor at Harvey Mudd College, he’s also a “Mathemagician,” taking the stage in his tuxedo to perform high-speed mental calculations and other astounding math stunts.  In this talk, he offers a bold proposal on how to make math education relevant in the digital age — ditch calculus and teach statistics and probability.


John Hunter: Teaching the World Peace Game
In 1978, at the Richmond Community High School, Hunter led the first session of the World Peace Game, a hands-on political simulation where he puts all the problems of the world on a 4′x5′ plywood board and has his 4th-graders solve them. The game is now played around the world.

Emily Pilloton: Teaching design for change
Designer Emily Pilloton moved to rural and impoverished Bertie County, North Carolina, to see what could happen with design-led community transformation. While there, she’s teaching a design class called Studio H that engages high schoolers’ minds and bodies while getting rid of trailer classrooms and bringing new opportunities to the poorest county in the state.

Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover
Why is the focus in math class always on solving problems? High school math teacher Dan Meyer thinks the focus should be on formulating solutions rather than paint-by-number homework. “I’m selling a product to a market that doesn’t want it but is forced by law to buy it,” he says in this talk, in which he offers some new approaches.

Aaron Sams: How to speed up chemical reactions and get a date
Colorado High School teacher Aaron Sams encountered a big challenge in his rural school — that students miss a lot of class.  In 2007, he began recording his lectures and posting them online so that even absent students could keep on top of their work without falling further behind. He calls this “the flipped classroom,” a concept he explains in greater detail in this article. Above, watch his TED-Ed lesson on chemical reactions made relatable to anyone hoping to go to prom.

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education
Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems in education — that the best teachers and schools don’t exist where they’re needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.

Liz Coleman: a call to reinvent liberal arts education
Bennington president Liz Coleman delivers a call-to-arms for radical reform in higher education. Bucking the trend to push students toward increasingly narrow areas of study, she proposes a truly cross-disciplinary education — one that combines all areas of study to address the great problems of our day.

Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers
From rockets to stock markets, many of humanity’s most thrilling creations are powered by math. So why aren’t kids interested? Conrad Wolfram says that the math we teach — calculation by hand — isn’t just tedious, it’s irrelevant. He presents his radical idea: teaching kids math through computer programming.

Clifford Stoll: The call to learn
An astronomer, researcher and internationally recognized computer security expert — who happens to be a vocal critic of technology — Stoll makes a sharp, witty case for keeping computers out of the classroom. Currently teaching college-level physics to eighth graders at a local school, in this talk, he shares intriguing ideas on why we want to learn."

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Revisioning How We Learn About Compliance in the Workplace

by Stephen M. Paskoff
Originally Published: July 31, 2012

"In 2011, the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) estimated that U.S. organizations spent $17 billion in 2010 on mandatory and compliance training.
In too many instances, that meant learners sped through training modules, zoomed through the next, all to verify completion.

This annual ritual wastes time, money, and credibility, which are all scarce business resources. And, judging from headlines in the world of business, finance, and sports, among others, it fails to prevent, detect and correct problems, the purpose of compliance training.

We need more than raw information

What’s the solution? Leaders need to figure out what’s truly important and make sure everyone understands their values and generally what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Does anyone think the debacle at Penn State would have happened if everyone knew that protecting children took precedence over protecting Penn State football and its chieftains? Would financial disasters in the mortgage and credit industries have arisen if individuals knew they were expected to speak up whenever problems arose and that they could do so safely?

In neither case do we get points like those across by check the box, mind numbing annual learning events covering remote hypotheticals, complex legal terms and intricate complaint systems. That’s all raw information.

If people want to get it they can. It’s only a mouse click away. The key is to make sure they know what’s important and real to their organizations.

Linking concepts to business results

Second, the marriage of developments in technology and advances in understanding how we learn gives us a chance we can’t ignore more effective workplace compliance learning. I wrote my new eBook, Revisioning the Way We Learn, to provide a road map for translating values and standards to actions and communicating them in a way that matters, is simple to understand and sticks throughout daily workplace behaviors (you can download it free here).

This involves linking concepts to business results, chunking information and repeating a few rather than multiple themes through the use of old and new learning technologies inside the classroom, at the desktop and on the job. The result — an ongoing learning experience to give leaders the understanding, skills and tools they need to communicate key messages as part of their routine responsibilities.

That’s the way to change culture and avoid the disasters that make news and haunt us."

Read the original article by from here: http://www.tlnt.com/2012/07/31/revisioning-how-we-learn-making-compliance-training-matter-simple-stick/?utm_source=feedburner