Friday, January 31, 2014

Should We Get Rid of the Term ‘Minority’?

by Kellye Whitney
Originally Published: January 30th, 2014

I got a tweet from Patricia Duarte this week. She’d read my last blog on using social media to reach minorities, and suggested that we “start by nixing the term ‘minorities’ from your vocabulary. It’s pejorative and increasingly inaccurate.”
Well, Patricia, I agree. It will soon be completely inaccurate thanks to demographic shifts that are quickly moving minorities to majorities.
However, pejorative, to be fair, is a matter of opinion and context. The term minority certainly began badly. It was a clear signal for “less than,” whether that meant intelligence, skill, political power or socioeconomic clout. It was also representative of number in many contexts. But things have changed, quite a bit for the better, and those demographic shifts I mentioned have almost single-handedly trumped any and every association with “less than.”
The question now is, what should we use to replace minority? Diversity terminology has evolved along with the practice. We’ve gone through segregation, affirmative action, multiculturalism, diversity, and diversity and inclusion as its own cohesive phrase. Some suggest we nix diversity altogether and just focus on inclusion, and there’s probably a handful of terms that should have been in my list that I’ve forgotten.
I am aware the term “minority” is a loaded and potentially inaccurate one, but I continue to use it because it’s common. When I write it or speak it, my audience knows what I’m talking about, and when writing about potentially divisive and quite often controversial subject matter, establishing a baseline for communication is necessary for meaningful dialogue to occur.
Still, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the term’s days are numbered. I’d already begun to use it more selectively when Patricia offered her considered opinion. So, I’ll throw the ball in your court now. What term or phrase could we use to replace minority? I welcome your thoughts.

Read the original article from Diversity Executive here: 

U.N. chief calls for equality, non-discrimination at Sochi Games

by Michelle Nichols
Originally Published: January 31st, 2014

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the participants of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, to advocate equality and non-discrimination during the games next month.
"The participants in the Sochi Games may carry the flags of many nations, but they come together under the shared banner of equality, fair play, mutual respect and non-discrimination," Ban said in a statement seeking the truce during the Sochi Games as well as the Paralympic Games in March.
He asked "all those involved in the games -- governments, groups, organizations and individuals -- to uphold and defend these core Olympic ideals."
Russia triggered criticism and boycott calls for the Games in June, when it banned spreading "gay propaganda" to children. Critics denounced the law as discriminatory and said it is a curb on rights to free speech and assembly.
In November, the U.N. General Assembly called for an international truce in armed conflicts during the Winter Olympics and urged Moscow "to promote social inclusion without discrimination."
Senior government officials from Germany, France, the United States and Britain have said they won't attend the Sochi Games. While the decisions were not officially linked to the gay rights issue, they were made amid pressure from rights groups not to attend.
The United Nations declined to comment on whether Ban will attend the opening ceremony on Feb. 7.
U.S. President Barack Obama made clear last month that his inclusion of three openly gay athletes in the official U.S. delegation was intended to send a message to Russia. Britain is sending a government minister responsible for the country's recently passed same-sex marriage laws.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said everything was being done "so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation."
He said there is no gay discrimination in Russia, which decriminalized homosexuality in 1993. But the mayor of Sochi said on Monday that homosexuality was not accepted in his Caucasus region, though gay visitors would be welcome at the Games if they respected Russian laws. (Editing by Amanda Kwan)

Read the original article from The Thomson Reuters Foundation here: 

Stern's legacy is diversity, giving

by Richard Lapchick
Originally Published: January 31st, 2014

David Stern
Every major news organization in the United States and many overseas have been writing commentaries and tributes to David Stern as he steps down this week as NBA commissioner after three decades.
Understandably, most of the articles have focused on the business and culture of the NBA. I want to make sure that Stern is also recognized for his unique efforts on race and social justice issues. This includes not only creating programs that help communities in the United States and around the world but also for his deliberate attempt to be inclusive of whom the NBA hires in the league offices as well as who is hired at the team level.
Stern's tenure as commissioner began a few years before I started writing the Racial and Gender Report Cards evaluating the hiring practices of the NBA, NFL, MLB, WNBA, MLS, college sports and the media. Stern has created a tapestry of acts of inclusion.
When he took over, the league was divided by race and lacked diversity at every level. Many people criticized the NBA player base as being "too black" while league and front-office employees were overwhelmingly white and male. From the start, the new commissioner said positions on the court would be filled according to the skills and talent of the contenders. In fact, the percentage of players of color has increased while the percentages of women and people of color in professional positions in the league office and team front offices have advanced dramatically.
Right from the start of his tenure, hiring in the league office included more women and people of color in the New York offices and later in its global offices. The NBA has been the only men's league to get an overall A for racial and gender hiring practices. It has done so for six consecutive years. The other men's leagues are now close to the NBA's A for racial hiring practices, but both the NFL and MLB still get a C-plus for gender. The WNBA, which Stern helped to launch, is the only organization that beats the NBA and has had an overall A-plus. Seventeen years after its launch, the WNBA has had an A in both categories in all but one year.
Although the NBA has always won accolades for results on both the NBA and WNBA report cards, Stern told me he wished that there was no need to issue the report cards. I told him I would stop doing it when I thought everybody was doing as well as the NBA. Stern said his ultimate goal is that "no one will notice not only when we hire a person of color but also when we fire a person of color."
There should be no surprise that the upcoming All-Star Game has a day of service scheduled before the festivities begin. Players, NBA executives and friends will serve the New Orleans community, which is still devastated from Hurricane Katrina almost nine years later. Through his tenure, Stern made sure NBA teams interwove service with business. It marks the second time the game has been played there since Katrina with a stated purpose of helping the recovery. Stern further influenced the city when the NBA temporarily took control of the team to secure the future of the now New Orleans Pelicans.
In 1992, I went to Stern and National Basketball Players Association director Charlie Grantham and asked them to help launch Project Teamwork in post-apartheid South Africa. Project Teamwork was a program I helped start when I was at Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society in 1988. After evaluating it, public opinion analyst Lou Harris called it "America's most successful violence prevention program," and President Bill Clinton named it as a model program. It used athletes to train young people with conflict resolution skills with a special emphasis on conflicts based on race and gender.
In South Africa, rugby and cricket were all-white sports and soccer was almost an all-black sport. It became a goal that basketball might be an integrated sport. Stern agreed to put together a team that he would lead to go to South Africa. The team included Lenny Wilkens and Wes Unseld as the coaches and Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning as the players.
Project Teamwork went there in 1993 and 1994. The South African youth were dazzled by the size of the American players, who were all great with children. They took to the game right away. The NBA built several courts in the impoverished communities of Soweto and Alexandria. The players were stunned by the living conditions. Mourning told me, "If I had seen this as a boy, I would have never complained about being poor in America."
In 2001, the NBA created its Basketball Without Borders program, which annually goes to Africa and countries in Eastern Europe and Asia. Basketball Without Borders brings together the best talent from the continent and teaches basketball skills for half of the day and life skills and community service for the other half of the day. Stern wanted NBA players to understand the power of sport to bring positive social change whether you are in the United States, Africa, Europe or Asia.
The NBA is the only American league that has an office in Africa. It is situated near Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg. Stern and I were among the guests invited to Mandela's inauguration. I know being there had great significance to him personally just as it did for me.
Kathy Behrens is the NBA's executive vice president for social responsibility and player programs. NBA Cares is the largest program in pro sports that gives back to communities where each team is located. Basketball Without Borders weaves the NBA's influence globally with a focus on education, youth and family development, and health and wellness. I have participated in NBA Cares programs in Orlando, Boston, New Orleans, Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, and Dakar, Senegal. I have witnessed the impact up close. It is real. No other league has an executive vice president for social responsibility let alone the extensive programming run by the NBA and WNBA. The tapestry is vibrant.
Behrens told me this week: "David has always championed the idea that the NBA, in fact all sports, should use the power of its brand and the celebrity of its players to bring about positive social change. He's pushed our staff and our teams to think about the impact we could have on communities where we do business and to understand that the values of our game provide teaching moments that don't exist with other businesses. It's been an extraordinary experience to see that vision take shape with our programs and partnerships, and with Adam [Silver]'s continued leadership in this space, our work can only get stronger."
The threads of Stern's influence continued to grow and support other efforts. After his playing career ended, Mutombo became the NBA's global ambassador in 2009. No other league has a global ambassador.
I recently went to South Africa for the funeral of Mandela. I chose to view the funeral from the youth center in Kliptown in Soweto where hundreds of children are served by the facility created by the NBA. It is an oasis in one of the poorest towns in South Africa where running sewage dribbles through the streets lined with shanties. I went there partially to see the legacy of the NBA's gift of the youth center, which I had first visited in 2008 with Basketball Without Borders. Six years later, it is thriving as the lifeline for the 200-plus young people who otherwise would have no hope for any kind of meaningful future.
There cannot be anyone involved in big-time sports who does not know something about Stern's life work. But I think that an ultimate test of his legacy is that 11-year-old girls in Kliptown not only know his name but also are grateful for what he contributed to their lives. I know I am grateful for what he contributed to my life's work of trying to use the power of sport to make this a better, more equitable and more inclusive world.

Read the original article from ABC News here: 

8 Ways Businesses Can Eliminate Mad Men Workplace Policies and Keep Women at Work

by Liz O'Donnell
Originally Published: January 31st, 2014

Mad Men Scene

There are approximately 23 million working mothers in the United States, and more and more families relying on these women as their main source of income. In his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Obama said he firmly believes, "When women succeed, America succeeds." His belief most likely stems from an overwhelming body of evidence supporting the fact that women at work, and in leadership roles, yield positive results for families, businesses, the economy and society.
But a Pew Research Center poll reveals significant percentages of women would prefer to cut back at work or not work at all. Corporate America needs to make some significant shifts in how it operates if we're going to keep these women engaged in work and part of our country's economic engine.
Here are eight ways employers can "do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode" and keep working mothers at work.
1. Offer housework as a corporate benefit.
Women spend approximately 30 percent more time on housework and childcare than men do and research suggests employers reactive negatively to women who appear dedicated to household activities. If you want to free women up to focus more on their work at the office, give them support inside the home.
2. Consider eldercare assistance for employers with caregiving responsibilities.
Often, a working mother's time out of the office during her childbearing years is compounded by the time off she takes later to care for her parents. The average caregiver for elderly parents is a 49-year-old working woman. However, the Society for Human Resource Management reported there has been a decrease in the number of companies that provide assistance to employees in the form of eldercare programs.
3. Change the up-or-out culture.
"My pet peeve is the lack of real options for women of my caliber," a woman with an MBA from an Ivy League school told me while I was writing my book on women and work. After the birth of her child, this woman looked for jobs where she could continue to contribute and add value, but not move up the corporate ladder. She couldn't find an employer who was willing to let her stay "in the middle" and not advance.
4. Make flex part of the culture, not part of the compensation.
Many companies list flexible start times, work-from-home days, and telecommuting in their employee handbooks, but employees know taking advantage of those benefits is actually frowned upon. And many working mothers report being penalized during salary reviews because employers "deduct" their flex options from their compensation. Business looking to get the best of what women bring to the workforce, need to adapt truly flexible cultures, not just policies. That means encouraging and embracing employees to work productively when and where that makes sense for them as long as base-line business and client needs are met.
5. Provide employees with paid sick time.
Forty-eight percent of workers in the private sector don't receive any paid sick days, and included in that number are more than 13 million working women. That means when they or their children are sick, they have to choose between skipping work, and their paycheck, or coming to work and putting their coworkers and customers at risk.
6. Offer paid parental leave.
In 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 3,745 pregnancy discrimination complaints indicating there are negative attitudes and misperceptions about working mothers in the workplace. If more working fathers were asking for and taking paternity leave, these attitudes might shift. Women would get more support at home after the birth of a baby -- and men would benefit too.
7. Don't make after-hours socializing mandatory.
Many misguided managers try to promote team culture and create a positive atmosphere in the office by organizing mandatory company outings, otherwise known as "forced fun." For working mothers, these events often have the opposite effect than what is intended. Already away from their families for 40-plus hours a week, not including commuting time, they want to get home after work, not arrange and pay for a babysitter in order to sing karaoke with coworkers. Not attending these events often carries an invisible penalty too. Women can be seen as less committed if they don't attend. If you want to boost morale, hold bonding events during work hours.
8. Change the dynamic around networking events.
Networking is key to career success, but the dynamics around networking can be awkward for women. In many industries, a lot of networking still happens on the golf course and at nighttime events, where women may not feel comfortable, especially if they are the only woman, or one of the only women in attendance. Consider a lunch-only networking policy. And if employees are required to entertain clients, encourage group events -- buy four or six tickets instead of two, to avoid a date-like dynamic.

Read the original article from Huffington Post here: 

Obama 'really impressed' with Pope's message of equality

by Agence France-Presse
Originally Published: January 31st, 2014

US President Barack Obama expressed strong admiration of Pope Francis for promoting "a true sense of brotherhood and sisterhood and regard for those who are less fortunate," in an interview aired Friday.
"I have been really impressed so far with the way he's communicated what I think is the essence of the Christian faith," Obama told CNN of the pontiff who has refashioned the image of the Roman Catholic Church since his installation last year.
The US president, who will visit the Vatican in March, said he didn't believe Francis was acting out of a desire to gain widespread approval.
Rather, "I think he is very much reflecting on his faith and what he needs to do to make sure that folks -- not just of the Catholic faith but people all around the world -- are living out a message that he thinks is consistent with the lessons of Jesus Christ," Obama said.
"That's a meeting I'm looking forward to," he added of the planned March 27 sit-down.
Obama has made rising inequality and the struggles of America's middle classes the signature domestic issue of his second term.
In a speech in December, Obama praised an argument advanced by Pope Francis, the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years, on rising inequality in societies split between the very poor and the super rich.
"How could it be, he wrote, that it's not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"
Pope Francis argued in the exhortation, that such conflicted values marked a "case of exclusion" in an unequal society.
And in October, the president told CNBC that he was "hugely impressed" with the pope's humility and empathy to the poor.
Obama was last in Vatican City in 2009, when he met Pope Benedict.

Read the original article from Global Post here: 

Parents sound off as B.C. reshapes its disability policies

Originally Published: January 30th, 2014

Some concerned about continuation of support after their children turn 18

Fixing B.C. disability services

Parents in West Vancouver voiced their concerns about B.C.'s services for people with disabilities, and the province's minister of social development was on hand to listen.
"If the system was working perfectly, you probably wouldn't be here," admitted Minister Don McRae.
The B.C. government is drafting a white paper to guide its disability policy.
Ani Khodian fears her eight-year-son won't get the support he needs when he turns 18.
"My son had a stroke when he was in utero. We didn't know until he was about three days old. From visual impairment to epilepsy to cerebral palsy, the list goes on," Khodian says.

Read the original article from CBC News here: 

Does diversity influence group success?

by Johanna Vandermaas
Originally Published: January 31st, 2014

Support for gender diversity in organizations and institutions has risen steadily in recent years, with reports and pundits hailing the strengths and virtues of having a female voice involved in decision making processes. Yet little research exists on just why gender diversity works. A new study led by a Ryerson University researcher exploring gender diversity in science research sets out to examine if gender diversity leads to better results, be it in the lab or the boardroom.

Lesley Campbell is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University and an expert in evolution, ecology and botany. In conducting her research and publishing papers, she was intrigued by the issue of research team composition and whether diverse groups had more success than groups comprised of uniform membership such as individuals of the same gender.
Campbell, along with former researchers from Rice University, decided to ask a basic question: Does diversity have an influence on the success of groups?
Her recently published paper, "Gender-Heterogeneous Working Groups Produce Higher Quality Science," offers the first empirical evidence that heterogeneous teams produce results perceived to be of higher quality by peers than results produced by homogeneous teams.
"Gender diversity, at a minimum, improves the likelihood that you are going to be doing effective ," says Campbell. "Gender diverse groups and groups that are diverse in a variety of ways might actually be more effective ways to do team science and team work. We now have scientific evidence to back that suggestion up."
Applied more broadly, the team's findings support the concept that diverse teams - be it cultural, ethnic or gender diversity- produces better results in teamwork settings in the lab, business world, social settings and beyond.
"These research findings demonstrate the tremendous value for organizations to encourage diversity in teams," said Julia Hanigsberg, Vice President Administration and Finance. "Research like Professor Campbell's provides an extremely valuable insight into the importance of diversity and how encouraging it can drive better results and positively influence the success of individuals, teams and managers."
Campbell's  were not all good news. She and her team discovered that over the past 10 years the number of women in leadership roles has increased; however, there has not been a similar increase in women working at the group level. This, says Campbell, is problematic as it suggests that female researchers and female graduate students are increasingly not participating in research projects, which is ultimately to the detriment of the science produced by those groups.
"The work of Dr. Campbell and her colleagues provides compelling data that show engaging more women in science will benefit both science and the broader community," says Imogen Coe, Dean of Ryerson's Faculty of Science. "Institutions, organizations, governments and the community as a whole must work harder to engage girls and women in science at all levels. Universities, specifically, play an important role in enhancing the recruitment and retention of female scientists and researchers and in creating a fully engaged and supportive climate for all under-represented groups."
The Research
To work with a consistent data sample, Campbell and her team focused on the research produced by 157 research working groups from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), a leading publishing ecological institution based in California, between the years of 1997 and 2006. The team evaluated the success of each paper based on the number of citations the work received from peers. They found that diverse authorship teams received 34% more citations than publications produced by uniform or homogeneous teams and that peers perceive the publications produced by gender-diverse groups to be of higher quality.
"We all come to the table with different ways of problem solving. It's a diverse way of finding a solution to the same problems," says Campbell. "It's not just about the facts that we know but the way that we do things really does differ between men and women, at least according to the evidence out there. There are very different ways that groups with gender diversity complete things."

Read the original article from here: 

Op-ed: How the NFL Is Tackling LGBT Issues

by Wade Davis
Originally Published: January 31st, 2014

The NFL still has no active out players, but a former player says it's not for lack of trying. 

Wade Davis
As a former NFL player, openly gay male and executive director of the You Can Play Project, I’m asked one question continually: “When is the first active NFL player going to come out?” And my response is always the same: “Announcing one’s sexuality is an individual and personal decision, so I have no clue.” That answer always creates a conversation around how homophobic the NFL is perceived to be and raises the question “What is the NFL doing to combat that?”

I often try to reframe the direction of those conversations and reiterate how players who aren’t out while playing in the NFL shouldn’t necessary reflect on the NFL and its culture. Players who aren’t out in the NFL weren’t out in college and weren’t out in high school. And now there’s a larger conversation to be had about how we socialize all kids around issues of sexuality, masculinity, and manhood and the ways young boys are taught to view femininity as a sign of weakness. While there’s less resistance to those conversations, many still believe the NFL must do more.

Well, the NFL has been listening and understands the power it has to shift and shape culture. Over the past few years, the NFL has been in conversation with multiple LGBT organizations like the You Can Play Project, GLAAD, Athlete Ally, and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network to discuss various ways it can enhance its existing policies around issues of diversity and inclusion to ensure that any gay athlete knows the NFL family will treat him with respect regardless of his sexual orientation.

From the first day I met Troy Vincent, former NFL player and senior executive, I knew the NFL wasn’t just paying this issue lip service. We sat and talked for hours about what my experience in the NFL was like as a non-out gay player. We discussed how I policed my every move and tried to re-create the type of masculinity that I thought was acceptable in the world. I even disclosed how my fear of being rejected, on some level, impacted my ability to perform and how gratifying it was to have countless former teammates embrace me after I announced my sexuality publicly.

Troy listened. He listened because he was my brother and we were family. We discussed how all teams are families, and though friction can sometimes occur around certain issues, the strong bond created between players always lasts. And he and I were the perfect example of that. Though we had never met, the scars and stripes of an NFL brother are always visible and welcomed.

We discussed an idea of having the NFL collaborate in the launch of the You Can Play High Five Initiative where current and former professional athletes would visit LGBT organizations to mentor young people and to promote leadership. Troy leaned in and said yes, without hesitation. His only request was to be a part of the visit to accurately articulate the vision and outcomes of the initiative to other teams and players for future visits.

As we walked into the Hetrick-Martin Institute, an organization geared toward working with LGBTQ youth, with former NFL player and current director of transition and clinical services Dwight Hollier. I explained the impact working at Hetrick-Martin had in transforming the ways I understood LGBTQ young people. And how these young sheroes and heroes sit at the margins of our society and face homelessness, abject poverty, lack of quality education, and massive amounts of discrimination, and yet they exhibit the same type of fierce courage and passion to succeed as we did as NFL players. Troy and Dwight’s commitment was only amplified.

Whether the players were talking to the executive director, walking on the youth-led tour, or learning the importance of using the correct pronouns, Troy, Dwight, and the young people opened their hearts to each other. One female who identified herself as a trans woman told a story about how even though she didn’t play sports she idolized a basketball player for his passion and drive for excellence and how observing him inspired her to find something that she could be just as passionate about. The players and the youth shared stories of struggle and triumphs throughout their lives, which created an immediate connection. These weren’t NFL players who sat idly listening to sad stories from LGBT kids. These were two men looking at these young people and seeing themselves. Seeing their humanity. And nothing else mattered. Because we were all family.

Beyond the NFL’s outreach on community engagement projects like the High Five Initiative, the NFL has always been intentional about making football accessible to all youth interested in learning how to play the game the right way. So it was no surprise when the NFL agreed to collaborate with the YOU Belong Initiative for its second annual LGBT and Straight Allied Youth Sports and Leadership camp, March 7-9. The camp offers youth ages 14-21 the chance to learn from professional athletes about academic, athletic, and leadership excellence in various sports and this year’s camp held in the New Jersey area is all about football. The NFL will ensure the youth learn the fundamentals of the game and will also facilitate a player led workshops on leadership. In addition to the football instruction, there are workshops on social justice, health and wellness, and combating bullying.

The controversy around why Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe are no longer playing in the NFL can understandably cloud one’s perceptions about the relationship between the NFL and gay athletes, but work is being done. Training is happening. Conversations are happening. And new familial bonds between the LGBT and the NFL communities are being created as new levels of understanding continue to be fostered.

Read the original article from Advocate here: 

Olympians Join Petition Against Russian Crackdown on Gays

Originally Published: January 31st, 2014

A gay rights protester is detained by security personnel during the Olympic torch relay in the city of Voronezh on January 18.
A gay rights protester is detained by security personnel during the Olympic torch relay in the city of Voronezh on January 18.
More than 50 Olympians past and present have signed a global petition calling on Russia to stop cracking down on gays ahead of the Sochi Winter Games. 

These signatories include Sochi-bound snowboarder Belle Brockhoff and bobsleigh pilot Heath Spence. who are both Australian, as well as the Canadian skier Mike Janyk.

The online petition has gathered more than 405,000 signatures worldwide. It says: "We stand with citizens across Russia who are calling on their government to stop the crackdown against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people that is fueling anti-gay violence."

It also calls on Russian and world leaders "to work to eliminate all antigay laws and protect all citizens from violence and discrimination in Russia."

The petition appears on websites of the activist groups All Out and Athlete Ally, which battle discrimination in sports.

Both are organizing protests for February 5 in Moscow, Sochi, London, Rio de Janeiro and other cities – two days before the Sochi Olympics begin.

Read the original article from Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty here: 

The challenge of achieving a gender-balanced boardroom

by Lisa Mayhew
Originally Published: January 31st, 2014

The under-representation of women on boards needs to be rectified, but focusing on non-executive appointments isn't the answer, says Lisa Mayhew
Flexible working is key to increasing the number of women on boards. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
The question of targets and quotas for women on boards has been brought to the forefront by Lord Davies' recent call for businesses to increase the number of female non-executive directors to 50%. His efforts have sharpened the debate around this issue, but how realistic is his plan?
An earlier report by Lord Davies' in 2011 opened with the warning that "at the current rate of change it will take over 70 years to achieve gender-balanced boardrooms in the UK." Both of his reports have shone the spotlight directly on the issue and demanded tangible action.
While there has been much discussion over the pros and cons of imposing quotas, it is hard to disagree with his core sentiment: that there is a serious under-representation of women on boards, and that this should be rectified as a matter of urgency.
Although my personal perspective is that quotas aren't necessarily the answer, there is no denying that simplifying the issue into targets communicates the problem in a language that the FTSE 100 and 350 are fluent in, and can act on.
For me, a potential issue is the focus on recruiting women into non-executive roles. This approach runs the risk of diverting attention away from why there are fewer women in executive management roles. When aiming for true gender equality, it's important not to create further divisions at board level. We need to avoid the problem of women being sidelined into non-executive positions, potentially creating another issue to be tackled.
To ensure there isn't a significant gender imbalance at board level, it's critical that businesses support and nurture talent from the grassroots all the way to the top. Developing this pipeline will help to ensure that talent pools are sufficiently diverse so that the best person is chosen as a board member, rather than someone of the "right" gender. Gender diversity needs to be vocally supported by senior management to help break down any perception of a male-dominated group culture which female employees may find off-putting.
It is also important to point out that there are legal barriers preventing the appointment of women on boards purely based on their gender. The 2010 Equality Act provides a narrow exemption which allows an employer to positively discriminate on the basis of gender if both candidates are equally qualified and there is an under-representation in the workforce of a particular gender. In practice, this mechanism can only be used in really exceptional circumstances to avoid the risk of a discrimination claim brought by a man who felt that he had been treated less favourably because of his sex.
Since being welcomed as a board member at my own law firm just over a year ago, I have found the experience highly valuable and felt that I was immediately seen as an equal voice. The legal sector is no different to most other professional sectors and faces the same challenges when it comes to retaining female talent. Flexible working is an important part of tackling this, as is a client-focused, progressive mindset.
Nurturing talent at grassroots level sounds like a wonderfully simple solution to the problem of boosting the number of women on boards, which of course it's not. However, with champions like Lord Davies, the spotlight on the issue is unlikely to dim anytime soon. It remains a long-term business priority requiring both government and industry support to create a more diverse culture, and give more women the confidence to believe they can progress to board level posts.

Read the original article from The Guardian here: 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Education equality gap failing immigrants and poor students

Originally Published: January 30th, 2014

Quality education is still not for all. Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Immigrant students and those from poor backgrounds living in developed countries are being failed by the school system and face a high risk of marginalisation, according to aUNESCO report.

Data from the 2009 results of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) shows that only 60% of French 15-year-old students pass the minimum benchmark for reading if they are immigrants. This is the same proportion achieved by an average Mexican student. Non-immigrant students in France fare much better, with 82% achieving that benchmark.

Similarly, reading levels of England’s immigrant students' are on par with an average student in Turkey, and Germany’s are on par with an average student in Chile.

Click to enlarge

According to Stephen Gorard, professor of education and public policy at Durham University, “On average economic migrants and refugees from less educated social backgrounds may tend to do worse, wherever they go.” He said that when UNESCO quotes difference in attainment rates for immigrants in different countries, “it is important to bear in mind how developed these countries are and where the influx is from.”

This comparison between immigrants and non-immigrants may mask issues over first-generation immigrants studying in a second language. Gorard said factors of social class are of key importance. Where new children perform worse at school than their indigenous peers, “this is not necessarily a consequence of their immigrant status of their treatment by others.”

The key question is what happens over time, perhaps over a generation or two. But, he said, “This is in no way an excuse for situations where there is direct evidence of unfair treatment of recent immigrant students.”

A 2013 report by the Coram Children’s Legal Centre, pointed to chidren of some migrants being denied access to education and housing.

Their analysis found that in England, the gap between rich and poor children achieving minimum levels in maths grows as they progress through school. At grade four (nine-year-olds), the gap was 8%, but it was 19% by grade eight (13-year-olds).

New Zealand has similar disparities, with only two thirds of poor students achieving standards, compared to nearly all rich students. In Australia, the problem has persisted for more than a decade, with two-thirds of indigenous grade 8 students achieving the minimum level in maths between 1994-5 and 2011, compared to 90% of non-indigenous students.

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Such discrepancies are not inevitable. Policies in East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea, as well as in Finland, have promoted quality teaching and helped level reduce disparities in learning, creating a level playing field for students from different social class.

Policy interventions to address discrepancies between ethnic groups can be difficult to get political attention. When it comes to analysis of achievement of different ethnic groups, David Gilborn, professor of critical race studies at the University of Birmingham, said race equality isn’t currently taken very seriously in debates around education in the UK. “I think certainly over the last few years, policymakers have not just taken their eye off the ball in terms of inclusive education. They’ve removed it from the agenda all together.”

Gilborn has worked on the differences in attainment between children of black Caribbean heritage, and the national average, which he said remain pronounced. “Education policy at the moment is dominated by a kind of colour blind rhetoric that emphasises standards and choice, and if anything, talk about inclusion and social justice tends to emphasise a particular view of white students being the race victims,” he said.

The UNESCO report points out that 250m of the world’s 650m primary school-age children are not learning the basics of reading and maths. The researchers put the cost of this to governments at $129bn, or 10% of global spending on primary education.

Bearing the price in mind and the fact that many of the children going through the school system are not actually achieving basic levels in reading and maths, it is possible to break down the cost-efficiency of spending on primary education. For example, in Burundi, the average spend per pupil is $60. But if you remove those who are not learning the basics, and the cost per pupil is $204.

Read the original article from The Conversation here: 

Why UK hospitals need to take disability seriously

by Annalisa Lista
Originally Published: January 30th, 2014

Image: Why UK hospitals need to take disability seriously

bleeding patient with disabilities was taken to casualty but was sent home again because staff thought he was just drunk. A woman with disabilities suffering from anorexia wasn’t given help for her eating disorder. An elderly, blind man with very severe disorders was hospitalised but ignored because staff thought he was ‘on the point of death, so let nature take its course’. These are just some of the dramatic events involving people with specific learning disabilities in the UK. The report, from Health Service and Delivery Research, found that such situations reflect deep gaps in the British NHS when it comes to people with disabilities. According to the data, British hospitals are certainly not an example of good practice, for many reasons. Firstly, medical staff don’t receive the right training to deal with disabled patients, so they don’t recognise the needs of the individual. This causes serious delays and omissions in both the diagnosis and basic treatment (medicines, examinations and feeding) and in emergencies, due to resulting superficiality and discrimination. Furthermore, the rivalry that exists between specialists on one side and nurses and carers on the other, means that the crucial role of the latter is greatly undervalued, preventing correct treatment. Lack of continuity and negligence both undermine the day-to-day safety of those with disabilities.

Read the original article from West here: 

The Buzz: Racism Social Media Style Strikes Again

by Mary-Frances Winters
Originally Published: January 30th, 2014

The Buzz: Racism Social Media Style Strikes Again
The outrageous racist and sexist response by some students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to Chancellor Phyllis Wise’s decision to keep the University open on Monday even in the wake of sub-zero temperatures, demonstrates yet again the power of social media to remind us that unfortunately racism is alive and well.
The tweets that were posted with hashtag #F***Phyllis degenerated from anger, disappointment and disbelief to personal, racist and sexist attacks against Wise who is Asian American.  The account amassed over 1000 followers in a matter of minutes.   Comments included “Asians and women are not responsible for their actions”; “Communist china no stop by cold”; “Phyllis Wise is the Kim Jong Un of chancellors” to parodies that were much worse in disparaging Asian Americans.
Encouragingly, there were also a number of counter tweets that expressed disgust and several alumni of Urbana Champaign weighed in with their concern.  One alum said that he was not surprised as there is still support on the campus for a banned racist mascot “Chief,” that is still endorsed by students as an unofficial mascot.  The writer also added:  “We can’t continue turning away from holding students accountable for their behavior in digital spaces. Safe spaces are a university aspiration, but may disassociate online behavior from student life, which is concerning in an increasingly digital age…. The campus needs to take bias-motivated incidents on the internet more seriously.”  Apparently there have been other instances of hate crime on this campus.
I am often asked in diversity training sessions if I think that the younger generation is more accepting because they have presumably had more exposure to diversity.  This recent incident at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is just one example of many other incidents of racist rants being carried out in social media which bring to the conclusion that younger people are not necessarily more unbiased and accepting of difference.  The rise in bullying in schools is another indicator that our young people may becoming less, rather than more, accepting.
I am not sure how much diversity and inclusion education students receive in K-12 and/or how much is included in college curriculums.  Of course diversity education is quite common in the corporate and not-for profit sectors.  Not that I think diversity training alone is the answer, but it would indeed be a start.  The first place, however where values are developed is in the home.  So the question would be, what are parents teaching their children about diversity?  Children learn to hate. They are not born with prejudice.

Read the original article from The Inclusion Solution here: