How Biden’s historically diverse administration plans to improve workforce diversity and economic equity

Biden cabinet
Joe Biden holds the first Cabinet meeting of his presidency on April 1, 2021.

  • President Biden vowed to appoint the most diverse Cabinet in history and fix economic inequities.
  • Financial support for women, communities of color, and low-income American are among the pledges.
  • The president faces an uphill battle to get the plans through Congress amid Republican resistance.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden promised his Cabinet would be the most diverse in history. Recently released data revealed his progress.

After saying he wanted his administration to “look like America” in December last year, the 78-year-old president has mostly succeeded in his plan to diversify the executive branch, according to an analysis by Insider in February.

As the country tries to emerge from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, Biden has installed a diverse team to forward his economic and business agenda, which includes tackling entrenched inequities.

Among them, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as the first woman to lead the department in its 231-year history, Cecilia Rouse as the first African American to chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Pete Buttigieg as the first openly gay cabinet member in his role as transportation secretary.

Last week marked the first 100 days of the Biden administration. We take a look at some of the actions taken since his January inauguration to promote diversity in business, the workplace and support communities disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bridge
Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan aims to rebuild the country’s aging road and bridge network.

A $2 trillion infrastructure plan that targets funding towards underserved neighborhoods

Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill sets out to repair the country’s dilapidated road and bridge network, expand access to high-speed broadband and accelerate the clean energy transition.

The American Jobs Plan targets infrastructure projects towards historically underserved communities. The plan includes proposals to replace lead pipes that disproportionately harm Black children and a $20 billion investment to “reconnect” previously cut-off areas to affordable public transportation systems.

The plan would also build more climate-resilient public infrastructure, with a focus on low-income people and communities of color, who are most vulnerable to the impact of extreme weather events such as flooding.

However, Republicans have opposed the bill, citing its “far-left” priorities and the corporate tax hike Biden has said will finance the plan.

Jennifer Granholm
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks at Howard University.

Proposed funding to build a diverse clean-energy workforce, with investments targeted towards historically Black colleges

Biden’s administration is pushing for more solar panels to be installed in communities disproportionately affected by pollution, as part of his American Jobs Plan.

The Department of Energy announced on Tuesday that $15.5 million would go into installing solar panels in underserved communities and training a diverse clean-energy workforce.

The DOE also committed $17.3 million to fund internship and research programs, with a focus on training more students of color in STEM fields. More than $5 million will be directed to 11 colleges, including historically Black universities Howard and Florida A&M.

Historically Black colleges have long been denied equal access to federal funding opportunities, DOE secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a roundtable discussion at Howard University on Monday.

“This administration is really committed to making the transition to clean energy an inclusive transition, offering benefits to every community,” Granholm said.

Working mom
Biden’s American Families Plan aims to support working mothers.

A plan to introduce 12 weeks of paid family leave – and Biden hopes it will encourage women to stay in the workforce

Biden has introduced a $1.8 trillion American Families Plan – made up of a mix of investments and tax cuts – that would create a national paid family and medical leave program.

The plan is estimated to cost $225 billion over 10 years.

The Biden administration hopes that introducing 12-weeks of paid family leave will help mothers to keep working, reduce racial disparities in lost wages, and improve children’s health.

Biden’s plan also commits to providing support for low- and middle-income families to access childcare, ensuring this does not account for more than 7% of their income, and investing in the childcare workforce.

Childcare workers are among the most underpaid in the US and more than nine in ten jobs are held by women, and more than four in ten by women of color.

D&I training
Biden reversed a decision by former President Trump to ban federal workplace diversity training.

An overturn of Trump’s ban on federal workplace diversity and inclusion training

One of Biden’s first actions as president was to revoke the workplace diversity training ban, signed by former President Trump, across federal agencies and their contractors.

Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office, which overturned Trump’s ban on diversity and inclusion training that taught critical race theory and involved discussions on institutional racism.

The new order instead advances a “whole-of-government” approach to addressing racial inequities, and asks federal agencies to consider whether their policies and programs create barriers for underserved communities to access their benefits and services.

Takeout delivery
Biden has extended unemployment insurance for gig workers.

Targeted Covid-19 relief, including protections for those in insecure work

The landmark $1.9 trillion stimulus package includes funding commitments to help communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

In the law, signed in March, $5 billion is provided to farmers of color to invest in their business, buy equipment and repay loans.

“This is a big deal for us,” John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, told CBS. “We see this as a great opportunity to help thousands.”

In the package, unemployment insurance for self-employed and gig workers, such as ride-share and takeout delivery drivers, has been extended until September.

In announcing the plan, Biden called on businesses to provide back hazard pay to frontline workers – who are disproportionately Black, Latino and Asian American and Pacific Islander – in retail and grocery sectors. It was employers’ “duty,” the proposal stated, to compensate workers who had risked their lives to keep businesses running.

Biden still faces a challenging road ahead

The president’s administration has taken bold and swift action in its first 100 days, even winning praise from more left-leaning members of his own party. But the impact of Biden’s policies will only be felt in the coming months and years.

Biden still faces an uphill battle to get his Jobs Plan and Families Plan through Congress in the face of Republican opposition and with a razor-thin majority.

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Target CEO Brian Cornell says George Floyd ‘could have been one of my Target team members’

Target CEO Brian Cornell
Brian Cornell, CEO of Target.

  • George Floyd, who was murdered last year by a Minneapolis police officer, could have been a Target employee, CEO Brian Cornell said.
  • Floyd’s murder took place “just blocks away” from the company’s Minneapolis headquarters, Cornell said.
  • Cornell called the conviction of the officer involved a sign of progress and accountability.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Target CEO Brian Cornell has been particularly outspoken about the murder of George Floyd last year by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of the crime last week.

“It happened only blocks from our headquarters,” the CEO of the Minnesota-based retail giant told the Economic Club of Chicago on Tuesday. “My first reaction watching on TV was that could have been one of my Target team members.”

In the conversation with Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta Beauty and incoming chair of the club, Cornell discussed the steps the company has taken to address the issues raised by Floyd’s death, including law enforcement’s treatment of Black Americans and racial inequity.

“For so many of us, we saw that verdict as a sign of progress, a sign of accountability, but also a recognition that the work is just starting and there’s much more work that we have to do,” Cornell said.

Floyd’s death, which was caught on video, led to widespread protests last summer and calls for an examination of systemic racism in the country.

Target has since gathered a special committee focused on supporting Black employees and expanding business with Black-owned vendor partners.

Earlier in April, the company announced it would spend more than $2 billion on black-owned businesses by 2025 by purchasing goods from more than 500 Black-owned businesses and contracting with Black-owned services from marketing to construction.

Cornell says addressing these challenges should not be delegated to someone else in the C-suite.

“As CEOs we have to be the company’s head of diversity and inclusion,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that we represent our company principles, our values, our company purpose on the issues that are important to our teams.”

The $93 billion company now has more than 1900 stores, and more than a third are led by people of color, Cornell said. His executive leadership team and board are similarly diverse, he said.

Lawmakers in Washington have renewed calls to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour, though some retailers say the move would lead to higher prices and potentially fewer jobs. Advocates for boosting the minimum wage point to research that shows higher wages reduce inequality and will pull many workers out of poverty.

Target instituted a $15 hourly starting wage in 2017.

“There were a lot of naysayers. In fact, many people didn’t actually expect that target would be here today but those investments have proved incredibly beneficial.” A forthcoming distribution center in Chicago will have a starting wage of $18 per hour and provide over 2,000 jobs, he added.

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Walmart significantly beats out Amazon when it comes to Black and Latino representation in upper management

walmart employees
Walmart employs a higher rate of Black and Latino executives relative to Amazon.

  • Black and Latino people are represented better within Walmart’s upper management than Amazon.
  • Black and Latino people made up 14% of US presidents and vice presidents at Walmart.
  • Just 3.8% of senior leaders at Amazon are Black, and 3.9% are Latino.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Diversity among underrepresented groups within Walmart’s upper management slightly beats Amazon.

Black and Latino people accounted for 14% of US “officers” last year, the company reported. Walmart defines officers as leaders who have president or vice president in their job titles.

At Amazon, Walmart’s primary competitor, Black employees made up only 3.8% of senior leaders, and Latino people accounted for 3.9% of senior management roles.

Read more: Frustrated third-party sellers say Walmart’s platform is severely lacking compared to Amazon, and they are desperate for the retail giant to catch up

Although white people are overwhelmingly represented in senior leadership at both companies, fewer senior roles at Amazon than at Walmart – 70.7% compared with 74.5% – are held by white employees, due to higher representation of Asian employees in the e-commerce giant’s upper ranks.

Asian-Americans are not underrepresented groups at most tech companies, but still report facing racial discrimination and a lack of promotions on the job.

Black employees made up 31% of the lowest-level roles at Amazon in 2020, and Latino workers accounted for 26% of the lowest-level roles. At Walmart, 39% of hourly workers are Black and Latino. White people account for 52.3% of hourly Walmart workers, but only 28.5% of Amazon’s field and customer support workers.

Got a tip? If you’re a Walmart worker, you can contact Insider reporter Allana Akhtar by email (aakhtar@businessinsider.com), phone (646-376-6058), or encrypted messaging app Signal (248-760-0208). We can keep sources anonymous.

Walmart, the country’s largest employer, had 1.5 million total workers in the United States last year. Amazon did not disclose the total number of US workers in a recent report, but said it plans to increase headcount to an estimated 1.2 million workers last year.

Amazon senior vice president Beth Galetti acknowledged the firm has “more work to do” to build a diverse and inclusive environment. The company said it will double the current number of Black directors and vice presidents in 2021, as well as increase the number of Black employees in corporate roles by 30%.

Amazon did not have additional statement to add. Walmart was not immediately available for additional comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

ADP has developed a workforce-diversity tool that lets you compare your company’s progress with others

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ADP’s new dashboard lets companies benchmark the diversity of their workforce.

  • ADP’s new DEI Dashboard lets companies break down data by ethnicity, gender, age, and disability.
  • Employers can also compare their company’s makeup to others in the same industry or region.
  • ADP told Insider that the dataset was the top-rated request by its clients.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

HR-tech company ADP has launched a new platform that lets employers compare their workforce’s diversity to similar companies.

The tool also lets companies see whether they’re retaining and promoting employees from marginalized communities at the same rate as others.

This development comes as the pandemic continues to widen healthcare, employment, and financial inequalities.

The World Economic Forum said closing the global gender gap would take an extra 36 years, due to the impact of the pandemic, during which 5% of all employed women lost their jobs, compared with 3.9% of employed men.

Meanwhile, staff have slammed BlackRock, McDonald’s, and Salesforce for their slow progress in improving workplace diversity – and DEI executives told Insider’s Marguerite Ward they’re burning out amid the billion-dollar push to diversify corporate America.

Read more: Verizon has pledged to spend 30% of its production dollars on minority-owned production companies, and has built a tool to vet its ads for bias

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Dashboard is part of ADP’s DataCloud and lets companies break down data by criteria including employees’ ethnicity, gender, age, disability, and veteran status.

ADP DEI Dashboard
ADP’s DEI Dashboard lets you track diversity trends over time.

ADP says the tool will help companies see the makeup of their employees and identify whether any diverse groups are underrepresented.

The software also lets companies benchmark themselves against similar organizations using what ADP says is one the largest available sets of real workforce data.

Jack Berkowitz, ADP’s senior vice president of product development, told Insider that this is the first time such large-scale benchmarking tools have been made widely available on the HR-software market.

ADP’s DataCloud lets employers select comparison companies by industry, size, or location. The data is aggregated to protect employees’ privacy.

As well as comparing DEI, the tool also lets companies compare organizational metrics like headcount, labor costs, and turnover. This lets employers see, for example, how their headcount by department compares to others in the same industry, or what percentage of total labor costs other companies in their region spend on sales and marketing.

Suzanne Harris, vice-president of human resources at IT-services company NexusTek and an ADP client, told Insider the company would use the tool to compare diversity data over time so that it can monitor trends and track progress.

And as well as looking at overall data, NexusTek plans on using the data to provide executives and managers with specific metrics related to their department and job functions, too.

Some companies, like The Carlyle Group, are going one step further by tying managing director promotions to inclusive leadership.

“There’s never been a time for people data to be more important,” Berkowitz said. He added that ADP evaluates around 400 software and tool requests from customers each year and a comparable EDI dataset was the top-rated request.

HR companies are responding to this growing demand for diversity data, too.

Website Glassdoor, for example, added a “diversity and inclusion rating” to its job-review system, and also lets job seekers compare pay and ratings by demographic groups.

Meanwhile, former college careers advisor Byron Slosar set up recruitment app Hive Diversity, which connects employers with a focus on DEI to college students from underrepresented communities.

Harris added, however, that it’s important to not just have a diversity approach reliant on checking boxes or meeting quotas.

“It is more important to us that all our employees, regardless of their background, feel included and valued and that we have a healthy culture that allows them to bring their authentic self to work each day,” she told Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Muslim advocacy group just sued Facebook for failing to remove hate-speech, and it’s the latest example of the tech’s patchwork polices that fail to crack down on Islamophobia

Mark Zuckerberg sheryl sandberg
Muslim Advocates sued Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg for allegedly misleading Congress on how adequately they remove hate speech.

  • An advocacy group sued Facebook for allegedly misleading Congress regarding hate speech moderation.
  • The suit claims Facebook failed to remove most anti-Muslim groups presented to them in 2017.
  • The Muslim Advocates suit underscores how tech platforms fail to moderate anti-Muslim content.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Muslim advocacy group this week sued Facebook for failing to curtail hate speech, part of tech’s broader problem stopping Islamophobic speech.

Civil rights group Muslim Advocates filed a suit against Facebook and four company executives in the District of Columbia Superior Court for lying to Congress about moderating hate speech.

Facebook executives have told Congress of their commitment to removing content that violate policies, including COO Sheryl Sandberg’s assertion to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Facebook and Foreign Influence that “when content violates our policies, we will take it down.”

Yet Muslim Advocates said the organization presented Facebook with a list of 26 groups that spread anti-Muslim hate in 2017, yet 19 of them are still active.

Read more: In a hopeful sign for tech diversity, Harlem Capital raised $134 million for its second fund, blowing by its target in just 6 months

The suit claims Facebook allowed a man threatening to kill Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to post “violent and racist content for years,” and that the company failed to remove a group called “Death to Murdering Islamic Muslim Cult Members” even after Elon University Professor Megan Squire brought it to Facebook’s attention.

“We do not allow hate speech on Facebook and regularly work with experts, non-profits, and stakeholders to help make sure Facebook is a safe place for everyone, recognizing anti-Muslim rhetoric can take different forms,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. “We have invested in AI technologies to take down hate speech, and we proactively detect 97 percent of what we remove.”

In 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified to Congress that the platform’s can fail to police hate speech due to its artificial intelligence. Hate speech has nuance that can be tricky for AI to identify and remove, especially in different languages, Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg once again addressed questions about moderation and automation at a March 2021 congressional hearing about misinformation. His testimony about how content moderation needs to take into consideration “nuances,” like when advocates make counterarguments against hateful hashtags, seemed at odds with Facebook’s admitted reliance on AI to do the job of moderating hate speech.

Peter Romer-Friedman, a principal at Gupta Wessler PLLC who helped file the suit and the former counsel to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, said Congress cannot adequately oversee corporations that misrepresent facts to lawmakers.

Romer-Friedman said Facebook’s failure to remove a group that claimed “Islam is a disease” – which directly violates the company’s hate speech policies that prohibits “dehumanizing speech including…reference or comparison to filth, bacteria, disease, or feces” – is an example where the firm did not follow through on its promise to Congress to quell hate speech.

“It’s become all too common for corporate execs to come to Washington and not tell the truth, and that harms the ability of Congress to understand the problem and fairly regulate businesses that are inherently unsafe,” Romer-Friedman told Insider.

How Facebook and other tech firms are failing to address anti-Muslim hate speech

The suit highlight’s tech firms’ ongoing problem responding to anti-Muslim content online.

Rep. Omar, the first congressperson to wear a hijab or Muslim headscarf, called on Twitter to address the death threats she receives. “Yo @Twitter this is unacceptable!” she said in 2019.

An analysis by the Social Science Research Council analyzed more than 100,000 tweets directed at Muslim candidates running for office in 2018, and found Twitter was responsible “for the spread of images and words from a small number of influential voices to a national and international audience,” per The Washington Post.

The spread of anti-Muslim content extends far beyond Facebook and Twitter:

  • TikTok apologized to a 17-year-old user for suspending her account condemning China’s mass crackdown on Uighur Muslims.
  • VICE has reported Muslim prayer apps like Muslim Pro had been selling location data on users to the US military.
  • Instagram banned Laura Loomer, a “proud Islamophobe,” years after Uber and Lyft banned her for a series of anti-Muslim tweets following a terror attack in New York.

Sanaa Ansari, a staff attorney with Muslim Advocates, said there’s been “clear evidence” of incitement to violence against Muslims potentially due to unchecked hate speech on social media. In 2019, 16-minute livestream of a gunman attacking two mosques and killing 51 people in New Zealand was uploaded to Facebook and spread quickly to Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter.

“There have been multiple calls to arms to Muslims, there have been organized events by anti-Muslim supremacists and militias who have organized marches, protests at mosques in this country,” Ansari told Insider in an interview. “And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Researchers tracked 163 companies over 13 years and discovered they became more open to change and less open to risk after women were hired into top management roles

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  • Harvard Business Review research points to the positive impacts of having women in C-Suite roles.
  • Researchers found organizations with more women embraced transformation while looking to reduce risk.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A company with multiple women executives is more likely to be open to change, according to findings published in the Harvard Business Review on Tuesday.

The study looked at several factors to determine the impact of hiring women for C-suite roles on business outcomes, including the rate of appointments by gender; research and development, marketing, and design costs; and company earnings reports.

The research was conducted by Corinne Post, a professor at Lehigh University’s College of Business, Boris Lokshin, an associate professor at Maastricht University, and Chrisophe Boone, a professor at the University of Antwerp.

163 multinational businesses were examined as part of the study. In terms of outcomes, firms saw a shift to risk aversion but an openness to change: “In other words, these organizations increasingly embraced transformation while seeking to reduce the risks associated with it,” said Harvard Business Review.

The researchers considered this first outcome to be a shift in the way companies thought about themselves. To quantify that shift, they pointed to a growth in R&D as opposed to mergers and acquisitions.

In effect, some takeovers, which the researchers say “could be described as a more traditionally masculine, proactive approach” gave way to a focus on work on research and new products and strategies within the company. Researchers stated that this change “could be described as a more traditionally feminine, collaborative approach.”

However, to benefit, the study found that women had to be integrated well into management teams. Notably, the study said that C-suite thinking was only impacted when female executives were added to top management teams that already had one or more women.

Researchers pointed to the value of diversity overall in making companies more open to change. Last year, Insider reported that companies were hiring more diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders despite hiring being down overall. Insider also noted that having a diversity, equity, and inclusion team made companies more likely to be perceived as industry leaders.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Gina Yashere on her Chuck Lorre collaboration, diversifying their writers’ room, and bringing Nigerian culture to American primetime

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Comedian Gina Yashere at the opening night of the African Film Festival in New York in 2018.

  • Gina Yashere has championed Black and African actors and writers in Hollywood.
  • Chuck Lorre asked her to consult on his CBS show “Bob Hearts Abishola.” Days later, she became a co-creator.
  • “There’s a lot more me’s out there waiting for a good opportunity,” she told Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When comedian Gina Yashere was first brought in as a consultant on the CBS show Bob Hearts Abishola she was skeptical, even after her first meeting with series creator Chuck Lorre.

The show is about a middle-aged white man who falls in love with his Nigerian immigrant nurse, Abishola, while recovering from a heart attack. Lorre, who created the mega-hit shows Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, needed someone to help bring authenticity to his show idea and Abishola’s character.

Lorre googled “female Nigerian comedian” and discovered Yashere on YouTube. She’s well known in the United Kingdom as a comedian whose bits cover her experience as a Nigerian lesbian woman who left her native U.K. for the United States. Lorre watched her set as host of Live at The Apollo in London, and wanted to meet her.

“So, originally, I was brought on as a consultant on all things African. It sounded weird to me,” Yashere told Insider, recalling her meeting with Lorre. “Once I got in the room with the guys, I began to really like them. I could see that they were trying to make a really good show, and it wasn’t really an exploitative thing.”

The pairing worked, and she was promoted to co-creator of the show after two days.

“She flew over from England to spend a couple days with us to just talk us through what she thought we could be doing,” Lorre said during a panel discussion promoting the show “And after a couple days, we just went, let’s see if she’ll stay with us… Don’t leave!”

She eventually became an executive producer, writer, and actress — playing Yemi, Abishola’s best friend. “I got in the room with them and just started helping them create an overall sort of template for the sitcom, giving them character names,” she said.

GY Yashere and Lorre
Gina Yashere and Chuck Lorre in 2019 discussing their show Bob Hearts Abishola.

Bringing her in could easily be the best decision Lorre and his other co-creators, Eddie Gorodetsky and Alan Higgins, made when creating the show. In its first season, Bob Hearts Abishola, was CBS’s highest-rated new sitcom with over 5 million viewers consistently every week, though reviews have been mixed. Now in its second season, the ratings are still consistent, and the show was renewed for a third season in February.

But Yashere, who has been living in the U.S. for over 13 years, isn’t an overnight success. Her IMDB page is proof of that with acting, producing, and writing credits starting back in the early 2000s. Her self-funded comedy specials Skinny B*tch and Laughing to America were sold to Netflix and are available now. She became a regular on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah as the show’s British correspondent in 2017.

“THIS IS A BLACK SHOW NOW”

Yashere was able to have an impact from early on. “I know you’re used to doing things a certain way, but technically in the eyes of the world, and in the eyes of CBS, this is a Black show now.” The storyline of Abishola and her family, which is based on Yashere’s life, naturally meant at least half of the cast, and a number of writers would need to be African and Black.

“Abishola’s life story is based on my mother’s story,” Yashere said “My mother had us kids in England with my dad, then my dad couldn’t get good work in England. He was a qualified lawyer, my mom was a qualified teacher, but they couldn’t get work because England in the 60s and 70s was super racist.”

Like Abishola’s husband in the show, Yashere’s dad moved back to Nigeria when she was a child, leaving her mom in East London as a single mother. Yashere based the character she plays, Kemi, on her aunt and aspects of her mother.

“Kemi is was kind of an amalgamation of those two, the fun side, the outspoken, you know, not giving a crap side, and does what she wants to do,” she said about the comic relief character she created for herself.

Yashere also had a hand in choosing which actors to cast, and said she was mindful of her own experience auditioning for black and African roles in Hollywood and how demoralizing it can be. “I made sure I was in all the auditions to make sure that, when those black actors walked in that room and saw me, they could relax and enjoy the audition knowing that they’re not going to be asked to do any kind of coonery.”

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Gina Yashere, (left) as Kemi and Folake Olowofoyeku as Abishola on the set of “Bob Hearts Abishola”

She was also adamant that they cast a dark-complexioned, Nigerian actress to play Abishola, knowing that proximity to whiteness is usually the Hollywood standard, even with African roles.

“You’d watch movies with African characters, and the actors were completely wrong,” Yashere said. “Their style of dress was completely wrong, or you have an entire family and every one of them has got a different accent from a different country within Africa.”

They ended up casting the actress Folake Olowofoyeku to play Abishola, a Nigerian nurse with braids, who has created a life for herself and her son, while being estranged from her husband, with the help of friends, family, and community in Detroit. The show’s fluency with Nigerian and Black American culture makes it stand out among other sitcoms.

“You can tell research was done, and it speaks to what actually happens in a Yoruba family. It’s refreshing,” said Dolapo Adedapo, a Nigerian nonprofit consultant and radio show host, who was included in an NPR story about the show when it first aired.

Yashere was also a force behind making sure that half of the show’s eight-person writer’s room was Black. She invited Lorre, Gorodetsky, and Higgins to comedy shows around Hollywood to intro uce them to other Black comics. “She’s a writer too, you should hire them,” she would tell them whenever she noticed an act had gone over well.

All of this has brought positive attention to CBS, which has been criticized for its lack of diversity in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Last summer, the network announced that by 2022-23 season, half of its writers would be non-white. The announcement came after the Writers Guild of America West’s Committee of Black Writers released an open letter calling on the industry to “revolutionize the way our industry hires writers.”

“A LOT MORE ME’S OUT THERE WAITING”

Yashere’s success with Bob Hearts Abishola has left her convinced she can do more. “Being able to book black actors and book black writers has given me a new passion. So moving forward, I want to carry on executive producing and bringing through other talent,” she said.

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The creators and lead actors in “Bob Hearts Abishola” (from left) Chuck Lorre, Gina Yashere, Billy Gardell, Folake Olowofoyeku and Al Higgins attend The Paley Center For Media in 2019. (Photo by

As her career continues to unfold it never escapes her that there are more people like her- women, black, LGBTQIA, immigrant, etc- waiting for an opportunity to break into the business. Understanding that she can’t do it alone she also plants seeds to the people in power around her.

“You know, I said to Chuck, recently, you guys discovered me, but there’s a lot more me’s out there waiting for a good opportunity.”

She is also a new author. Her book Cack-handed, a memoir about her life before she moved to the U.S., hits bookshelves in June. Cack-handed, which means left-handed, and hence awkward and clumsy, in British slang, represents for Yashere how non-traditional her rise in Hollywood has been. She started off as an engineer, a path that she says delighted her immigrant mother, but decided to become a comedian after taking off a summer to act in a community play.

Now with “Bob Hearts Abishola” she’s showing that a left-handed professional can hold sway in a world built for right-handers.

“I’ve never wanted to push myself into a box that they put me in. I’ve never wanted to do things that are against my core principles,” she said. So because of that, it took me a lot longer to make it. But it feels a lot sweeter now because I’m making it on my own terms.”

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A top exec at Wells Fargo shares the career moves that helped her crack the glass ceiling

Lisa McGeough
Lisa McGeough says being the CEO of your career means you actively take control of it, rather than passively waiting for success to come your way.

  • Lisa McGeough, head of international banking at Wells Fargo, shared how she broke the glass ceiling. 
  • Deloitte research from 2019 shows that women hold only 22% of leadership roles in finance.
  • The glass ceiling is the set of obstacles women face when trying to ascend to top corporate positions. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

When Lisa McGeough first walked onto the fixed income trading floor at Salomon Brothers (which was later acquired by Citi) in 1984, she was one of about 12 women in her class. There were more than some 65 men. 

McGeough, then 21, quickly learned she was in a man’s world. And the odds were not in her favor. 

Over the years, she’d experience numerous microaggressions from her male colleagues.  

“Girls can’t trade.” 

“You’re so good at note-taking.” 

“I didn’t know you were interested in golf.”

But she refused to let them get to her. Today, McGeough holds one of the highest positions in finance. She leads Wells Fargo’s international banking operations, which encompasses all the businesses across the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East, and Africa. 

“It was a tough place, the trading floor,” McGeough told Insider. “But that’s where I developed my resilience because I was not able to change the culture. I had to adapt to the culture, and survive the culture, and then thrive within the culture.” 

There’s been progress toward gender equality since the 1980s. Social norms have changed. The recent #MeToo movement has forced leaders to take a hard look at sexual harassment and the lack of women in leadership within their own walls. 

The Civil Rights Act of 1991, for example, gave people suing for workplace discrimination more rights and forced employers to take claims more seriously. 

Yet, at the same time, many things have remained the same. Executive positions are still mostly occupied by white men. Out of all the CEOs on the Fortune 500 list, only about 37 are women. There are only 6 black CEOs. 

There’s still a glass ceiling, a set of barriers women face when trying to climb the corporate ladder and make it into the C-suite. According to Deloitte research from 2019, women hold only 22% of leadership roles in finance. While it’s expected to grow, to 32% by 2030, that’s still well below parity.  

Approximately 48% of senior leaders at Wells Fargo are women, according to company data provided to Insider. Some 25% are racially or ethnically diverse and 9% are Black. 

Industry leaders like Salesforce and Amazon still wrestle with workplace discrimination, according to reports. And businesses across a range of industries show disappointing diversity numbers when it comes to their executive leadership. 

This is despite women holding 50% of entry-level positions, according to 2019 research from McKinsey and LeanIn. 

McGeough cracked the ceiling, though. For International Women’s Day, she reflected on how she did it. 

Learning the value of hard work 

McGeough said she’ll never forget visiting her immigrant grandparents. Her grandmother, who emigrated from Italy, worked two jobs – one at a men’s tailor shop and another at a local garden. She’d come home, pick food from the family’s garden in their backyard, cook dinner, and then would routinely stay up until nearly 3 a.m. sewing clothes for the family. 

McGeough’s parents, who owned an IT company in Chicago, encouraged her and her three younger siblings to work hard in school and in life. 

“It’s been in my psyche for my whole life, watching them as role models and how hard they worked,” she said. “Hard work, focused dedication, and resilience are the things that I got from them.” 

McGeough attended Bowdoin College in Maine, graduating with a degree in economics. Shortly after, she began a three-year career at Salomon Brothers. 

She worked hard to make it in the cut-throat world of finance, facing constant microaggressions and bosses who didn’t believe in her abilities. 

But she stayed determined. 

“No, one’s going to knock me out,” she’d tell herself. “No, one’s going to win. I am going to be the one that’s going to. I’m going to survive and I’m going to thrive.”  

Hard work alone, however, didn’t make her an executive, she said. 

“There is no fairy godmother. There’s no person who’s going to just notice you and pull you into a high level role,” she said.  

Be the CEO of your career

Lisa McGeough
McGeough said women and people from underrepresented groups should have a team of people who know their hard work and can advocate for them in rooms where decisions are being made.

Women and other professionals from underrepresented groups have to be more active about how they plan their career growth, she told Insider.  

Her philosophy boils down to a simple catchphrase: “Be the CEO of your career.” 

In other words, take charge of your career, as a CEO would take charge of their company. Actively advocate for yourself.

For example, do not assume your manager or your manager’s manager will notice your hard work, she said. Keep track of your progress, she said, and bring it up in meetings, especially when it comes time to performance reviews.

Make sure your career has a “board of directors,” or a group of people who can help you along the way and advocate for you. 

“It’s not just your boss. It’s your clients, a lateral manager, mentors or sponsors,” she said. 

They can advocate for you when you’re not in the rooms where decisions are being made. 

By having a board of directors, McGeough said she was recommended for roles that other women were passed up for. 

Know when to move and look for new opportunities 

Women have to know when to leave a job where they can no longer grow.

For McGeough, that happened when she had a manager who insisted she go home to take care of her kids instead of offering her the opportunity to cover clients who required extensive travel. This was despite her insistence she was the family’s breadwinner. 

After that experience she knew she had to get out.

Career progress often isn’t a straight path, but rather a series of lateral moves, she said. Some of those moves happened when she saw an opportunity, raised the issue with leadership, and pitched herself for the role. 

“I raised my hand to do something very hard that no one else was doing. And there was a very large gap in this particular role that I observed,” she said. “Take risks, be uncomfortable.” 

Now, as a leader, she actively advocates for up-and-coming talent, especially women and those from underrepresented backgrounds. 

“How do I advocate for this talented woman or diverse person on my team to give them the visibility that they need? Because I’ve experienced what they’re experiencing now. How do I create a diverse leadership team?” 

Those are questions she says more leaders should be thinking about, she said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google launched a $2 million funding programme for Black founders in Europe: ‘There is a lot of work to do.’

AudioMob cofounders Christian Facey (left) and Wilfrid Obeng
AudioMob cofounders Christian Facey (left) and Wilfrid Obeng previously took part in Google’s Immersion scheme

  • Google just launched a $2 million fund for Black tech startup founders in Europe. 
  • Black people remain woefully underrepresented in tech investor and startup circles. 
  • Google’s VP of startup partnerships said there was ‘a lot of work to do’ to improve representation.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Google has unveiled a $2 million funding scheme for Black startup founders in Europe, in an attempt to combat the dire lack of representation across the technology sector. 

According to Atomico’s most recent State of European Tech report, less than half a percent of venture capital money goes to Black founders on the continent, and less than 3% of European venture capitalists identify as Black.

Google has made its own pledges to improve diversity internally following criticism from employees, with CEO Sundar Pichai promising to improve representation of underrepresented groups in the company’s leadership by 30% by 2025.

Under the new initiative, Google for Startups will offer up to $100,000 in cash awards to selected European startups, as well as up to $220,000 per startup in credits to be spent on Google Ads and Cloud space.

Our hope is that this will be part of a wider commitment to change from the entire startup ecosystem,” said Rachael Palmer, Google’s head of VC and startup partnerships. “In the future we want to see more successful Black founders, more Black angel investors, and more Black general partners at the most successful VC firms.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but I am extremely pleased that Google is committed for the long term.”

At the tail end of 2020, Google ran two “Immersion” schemes in Europe, 12-week programmes designed to help Black and female founders on their journeys to success. 

Osas Omoigiade, cofounder of photo management platform DeepMeta and a participant in last year’s programme, said the new fund would “help unlock opportunities for founders today working on brilliant businesses to bring their creativity into the public sphere.” 

He added: “I think this will motivate other funding bodies whether institutional or otherwise to begin to rethink how they allocate funding.”

Rachael Corson, an Immersion alumna and founder of afro hair products startup Afrochenix, agreed, telling Insider: “We hope this will lead to a more equitable and fair system where the best talent, rather than the best connected talent, can build companies which improve society.”

Wilfred Obeng, a fellow graduate of the Immersion scheme and cofounder at audio adtech firm AudioMob, told Insider the industry was “clearly not as representative as it should be,” adding: “I believe this fund will be the catalyst and motivation for other companies to play their part in improving equality in technology and diversifying who receives venture capital.”

Applications for Google’s Black Founders Fund are now open and close on March 21. You can find more details here

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 Black queer journalists share their advice for breaking into the journalism industry and what publications should do better to recruit minority employees

Daric L Cottingham interview
(L-R) Tre’vell Anderson, Cerise Castle, Femi Redwood.

  • Regardless of any sudden DEI efforts made in 2020, journalist Daric L. Cottingham says the media industry has a long way to go to promote diversity. 
  • Cottingham interviewed three Black LGBTQ journalists on lessons they’ve learned breaking into the media industry.
  • The group also shared their thoughts on how publications can better recruit and retain Black queer journalists.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As the spike of police brutality targeted at Black people became a constant headline in 2020, the world began to listen to concerns of structural racism and bias, especially in professional settings. 

Daric Cottingham Headshot 2021
Daric L. Cottingham.

Many industries started to examine their racist pasts. Journalism in particular began to reckon with the lack of diversity in newsrooms, and the racist rhetoric it used in coverage of diverse communities.

These “reckonings” felt like an empty PR attempt, since the same behaviors are still present at many publications in 2021 

Despite these “attempts,” we’re left with a lingering question of how can journalism actively change to be as diverse as the communities it reports on. One way is to hire diverse candidates with intersecting identities, such as Black queer journalists who navigate the industry with the added stress of implicit bias rooted in racism and queerphobia.  

I spoke with three Black queer journalists about the lessons they’ve learned navigating the journalism job market.

Cerise Castle .JPG
Cerise Castle.

Cerise Castle (she/her) is a Black lesbian multimedia journalist who’s produced and hosted segments for VICE News Tonight, Los Angeles NPR affiliate KCRW, and Wondery. 

Tre'vell Anderson headshot 2021.JPG
Tre’vell Anderson.

Tre’vell Anderson (they/them) is a Black queer, non-binary person of trans experience, the president of the National Association of Black Journalists of Los Angeles, co-chair of NABJ’s LGBTQ Task Force, and editor-at-large at Xtra Magazine.

Femi Redwood headsshot 2021
Femi Redwood.

Femi Redwood (she/her) is a Black lesbian TV news anchor who most recently reported for VICE News on intersectional issues including race, gender, and LGBTQ identities. She’s a board member of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists and a co-chair NABJ’s LGBTQ Task Force.

Here’s what they had to say, including advice they have for young Black queer journalists trying to break into the industry and advice for publications to better recruit and retain these diverse journalists. 

What was one lesson you learned as a Black, queer journalist? 

Cerise Castle: The hardest lesson I think is the fastest one you learn: that your voice and ideas will probably always be counted last. I think that’s a valuable lesson because I think it’s helpful to go in knowing the reality of most newsrooms and how most outlets work. Unfortunately, I think it’s a reality that you have to accept most of the time.

Tre’vell Anderson: A lesson that I’ve learned as a Black, queer journalist is that, just because my editor doesn’t understand the importance of a particular story, doesn’t mean that story shouldn’t be told. As Black, queer, trans folks, as folks from a marginalized, less represented community in newsrooms, often the stories that we want to tell about our communities don’t hold that same weight. Or don’t seem as necessary or worthy to our editors, who are white folk more often than not.

Femi Redwood: Pay attention to the media group because it may have more control in how the station or the publication handles things than the individual entity you will work for. If it’s a problematic station group, you don’t want to work there.

What advice do you have for young Black, queer journalists trying to break into the industry?

Castle: I would say not to change yourself for the industry. I had a college professor who told me that to be on camera, I had to have shoulder-length hair and couldn’t wear it naturally. I couldn’t have piercings or do my makeup a certain way. And all of that, just … It isn’t true. 

Granted, there will be some news directors that will force you into that box, but you can always be yourself. The first on-camera job that I got picked me because they liked my curly hair and liked that I bleached it. They liked that I had facial piercings. They liked that I didn’t look just like every other reporter from central casting. Playing into your identity can help you out in many situations, to get that job, and to get the story too.

Anderson: My advice to Black queer journalists, emerging and coming into the industry and those that are fairly established, is to remain undaunted as we navigate these spaces. Follow your heart, follow your gut, follow your intense desire to tell your community’s stories, even when the broader media ecosystem, or your editor, or whomever tells you that those stories don’t have any worth. 

It’s important to build an identity outside of the news organizations that we might work for and beyond the work we do because being a journalist is a thankless job in many ways. Still, it’s a very necessary job at the same time.

Redwood: My one piece of advice to queer Black journalists is to go into every situation as if you were a straight white man. It’s been my recent guiding principle. 

Often we are told we need to accept anything, accept any pay, and accept any position. We are told that unless we check off certain boxes – years of experience, education, awards, etc. – we don’t deserve more. Nah. 

Be like straight white men. They are socialized to expect what they believe they deserve. Young queer Black journos need to do that as well. We often see straight white men “fail up” while we tell ourselves, ‘we aren’t ready for a new position, we don’t deserve a raise, or haven’t earned a promotion.’ 

You deserve that job even if you only worked on your college paper; you deserve that pay even if you didn’t go to what’s considered a top j-school, you deserve that promotion even if you haven’t earned any awards, because why not you.

What can publications do to better recruit and retain Black, queer journalists?

Castle: Pay them. That’s all, that’s my answer. Pay them what they’re worth, more than they’re worth.

Anderson: What these people need to do to recruit more Black queer journalists is the same thing they need to do to recruit more Black journalists, right? They have to get out of their own way and get out of our way. 

Many folks hiring and recruiting reporters aren’t doing intentional outreach to groups of color, to 1) Let us know the available opportunities, and 2) Give us the same kind of level playing field that our white counterparts have. 

It also requires you to not only augment and change your recruiting habits, but you also need to change your retention practices because once you hire a Black person, you need to make sure that the work environment is one they will want to stay at your company. 

That might mean that some people on the team need to leave because they’re toxic, or they’re white supremacists, or they’re racist, or they’re homophobic, or transphobic.

Redwood: It’s all a big circle. And all of these things work hand in hand. To recruit Black queer journalists, you have to create a place they want to work. Because if the environment is homophobic or full of racist microaggressions, then Black folks aren’t going to want to work there. 

The next thing is to create paid internships. Expecting journalists to work for free, it’s a form of gatekeeping that unfortunately prevents many Black and brown and queer journalists from getting in. Because statistically speaking, we don’t have the same wealth as white counterparts.

Read the original article on Business Insider