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.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Out of 1,548 Goldman Sachs US executives, 49 are Black

David M. Solomon, President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills
David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in 2017.

  • Out of 1,548 top executives at Goldman Sachs in 2020, 49 were Black, the bank said Tuesday.
  • The 49 Black leaders represented 3.2% of all executive leadership at the bank, a slight rise from 2.7% in 2019.
  • Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said he would make improving the diversity of the bank’s workforce a “personal priority.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Goldman Sachs said on Tuesday that out of its 1,548 senior executives in the US, 49 were Black.

Out of those 49 Black executives, 25 were Black women and 24 were Black men, according to its 2020 sustainability report.

The 49 Black executives represented 3.2% of all executive leadership at Goldman Sachs in 2020, which was a slight improvement from 2.7% in 2019.

The bank employed a total of 21,040 people across the US in 2020. Tuesday’s report showed that 1,425 of these workers were Black, including 649 men and 776 women.

This means they made up 6.8% of the bank’s US workforce – a step up from 6.6% in 2019. Census data shows that 13.4% of the US population is Black.

In the executive summary of the report, CEO David Solomon said there was “still a long road ahead” on improving the diversity of the bank’s workforce, adding that he would “continue to make this effort a personal priority.”

Read more: Which Wall Street banks and private-equity firms are handing out special bonuses and pay bumps to junior talent

He added that Goldman Sachs has “set additional goals for retaining and promoting talent at the vice-president level.”

Goldman Sachs didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The report comes one month after the bank announced it was set to invest $10 billion in an initiative called “One Million Black Women.” The project aims to reach 1 million Black women by 2030 through investment in healthcare, jobs, education, and access to capital.

Goldman Sachs has a higher proportion of Black employees in senior executive positions than Morgan Stanley, which revealed in its 2020 Diversity and Inclusion report that it had 37 Black leaders out of 1,705 executives in the US.

Bank of America’s 2020 Human Capital Management report showed that 201 out of its 4,191 executives were Black, while Citigroup’s 2019 Diversity report said that out of 108 executives, four were Black men, but there were no Black women.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Richard Branson is leading a campaign to end the death penalty, along with other key business figures. The Virgin Group founder said there is an urgent need to abolish the practice.

AP18285332941153
Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson, is spearheading the campaign.

  • Sir Richard Branson spoke to Insider about his ongoing campaign to eradicate capital punishment.
  • The Virgin Group founder called the practice “barbaric” and “inhumane.”
  • He has teamed up with several other business leaders to help spread the message.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has joined forces with other business leaders to launch a campaign to abolish capital punishment in the US and other countries.

The 70-year-old billionaire announced the Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty Declaration in a virtual SXSW event in Austin, Texas, last month.

The declaration was coordinated by the UK-based organization, Responsible Business Initiative for Justice, and has gained 21 signatories. They include Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben & Jerry Ice cream, Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, Helene Gayle, a director at the Coca-Cola Company, and telecom tycoon, Dr. Mo Ibrahim.

The push to end the death penalty comes amid a global focus on racial and economic justice, exemplified by the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

In an interview with Insider, Branson described the death penalty as “barbaric” and “inhumane.” He explained his involvement in several cases throughout the years where innocent people were sent to death row, in the US and elsewhere. This led him to realize capital punishment is arbitrary and flawed, he said.

Branson gave an example of a case he took up, which involved Anthony Ray Hinton, a man who spent 28 years on Alabama’s death row before being exonerated in 2015. “He was framed for a double murder he didn’t commit, only because the police and prosecutors needed a Black man to convict,” Branson said.

For every eight people executed in the US, one person is freed from death row – often after decades, as was the case with Hinton, Branson added.

This case, among others, highlighted another problem for Branson – that the death penalty is also a symbol of oppression, as well as racial and social inequality.

“Look at people on death row. In most US cases, it’s people of colour and the poor that are sent to death row,” he said. “Some in the US have called it a ‘direct descendant of lynching’, and I’d say there is much evidence of that. In some countries, it’s become a tool of political control and oppression,” Branson said.

Branson believes it is even more crucial to end capital punishment, given it is a wasteful and ineffective misallocation of public funds. Now more than ever, governments must be responsible with public finances given the hard hit on countries’ economies due to the pandemic, he said. “Public funding could be spent on schools, healthcare, infrastructure instead,” he added.

The involvement of so many notable business leaders in the campaign demonstrates an increasing willingness to speak up on issues of inequality, the danger of executing innocent people, and the need for fiscal responsibility.

“We have to ask ourselves: does the death penalty serve a real purpose for us as caring human beings?” Gayle said in a statement. She noted how it felt even more urgent to focus attention on preventable deaths in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its terrible loss of life.

Cohen and Greenfield wanted to ensure they played their part, too. They told Insider: “We have some of the world’s loudest voices – and we have a responsibility to use them to fight injustice wherever we see it.”

Businesses need to do more than just say Black Lives Matter, they added: “We need to walk our talk and help tear down symbols of structural racism.”

Jason Flom, chief executive of multimedia company Lava Media, is also involved with the campaign. When asked about the main objectives he hoped to achieve, he told Insider: “Goals include changing hearts and minds in the general public, as well as educating the next generation of prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, and prospective jurors.”

There are 56 countries that still retain death-penalty laws as of 2019, according to Amnesty International. Since 2013, 33 countries have carried out at least one execution, the BBC reported. More than 170 UN member states, out of 194, have abolished capital punishment in law or declared a moratorium.

Read the original article on Business Insider

4 prominent women leaders share what they really want from their employers

muslim women at work
Women want flexibility and to be evaluated based on deliverables, not how much time they spend at the “office.”

  • Women in the workplace want equal pay and flexibility, but they also want thoughtful appreciations.
  • Four female leaders share how employers can invest in meaningful relationships with their employees.
  • For one, they should let employees know their work and insights are valued.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last year, I received the iconic Turquoise Pantone 1837 Blue box as a bonus gift from a Fortune 500 company. Inside was a handwritten, congratulatory note and a gift certificate for $1,500 to Tiffany & Co. It provided a woman’s name and phone number to call for personal concierge service, along with an option to take the gift certificate directly into a store to select a piece of my liking. It was the most memorable bonus gift I had ever received.

I emphasize memorable because I have earned a performance bonus of $1,500 or more several times throughout my professional career, and while it’s incredible to receive “unexpected” cash, or achieve a bonus that you have been chasing, it was the creativity and personalization of this gift that made me feel appreciated and empowered.

It’s no secret that working women seek flexibility and want to be rewarded and judged on deliverables, as opposed to how much time we spend at the office. We also seek equal pay, in particular for women of color. While these issues continue to play out, it is promising to see more companies shifting their efforts to prioritize company culture, as evidenced by examples like this terrific, supportive note that a Chicago-area CEO sent to his employees to demonstrated that he understood they have personal lives.

So, what else do women really want from their employers? I checked in with four female business leaders, authors, and TV personalities on the topic, and here are their ultimate insights.

1. Go beyond meeting my expectations

human resources layoffs boss meeting
Connect what’s personally important to someone with the organization.

“Enlightened employers go beyond meeting the basic needs of their employees and seek to truly understand how to engage them,” Denise Lee Yohn, brand leadership expert and author of the book “FUSION: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies,” said. “By connecting what’s personally important to someone with the purpose and values of the organization, companies create meaningful relationships with employees and align their efforts with the brand.”

Yohn elaborates, “An example would be how Airbnb opens the café in its headquarters to employees’ families, even for dinner. This helps working parents, as they don’t have to worry about rushing home to prepare a meal or to spend time with their children. And it is a terrific expression of Airbnb’s brand mission — to help you feel that you belong anywhere — and its core value of hospitality.”

2. The value of my work is personal to me

greet coworkers
Employees want to know that they matter.

Carrie Bobb, president of Carrie Bobb & Co, a real estate firm that works with women-focused brands such as Soul Cycle, DryBar, and Sephora remarks, “Exceptional employees, the most valuable assets for an employer, want to know they matter and that the work they are creating is meaningful and will last beyond their time spent at the company. It must be personal. During extremely difficult situations or in the midst of managing a crisis, it is critical to have empathy. Not just express empathy, actually have it. There’s a difference. Often in large corporations, there are so many people involved in the messaging itself that the heart can get lost in translation. Employees want to be heard and understood, and they can tell the difference between a manager expressing the message the company wants to deliver and a manager actually expressing they care for the individual.” 

3. Ask for my opinion

coworker conversation
Women want to be appreciated, respected, and valued.

Jenna Wolfe, the host of Fox sports show “First Things First” and a former “Today” lifestyle correspondent, offers a sincere and direct perspective.

“I’ve worked in television for 23 years, the bulk of which have been as a sportscaster in a male-dominated field,” she said. “The happiest of them have been when I felt appreciated, respected, and valued. I want to know that you need me, that you want me, and that I make a difference. Ask me my opinion, let me sit in on content meetings, listen to my ideas, and show me you’ll actually implement the ones which can help us grow. Don’t get me wrong — a raise is nice. An extra vacation day never hurts. And I’m always down for a gift card to any sports apparel store. But for me, as a woman who comes to a sports office every day well read and well prepared, there’s nothing that makes me happier than commanding the respect of the people I work with.” 

4. Everyone likes to feel included

coworkers office
Inclusion goes beyond gender.

Gina Smith is the president of Rauxa, a woman-founded and led advertising agency owned by Publicis Groupe, and says she prioritizes being empathetic to a diverse group of women. She says, “We have always operated from the perspective that every employee deserves empathy, transparency, and the knowledge that everyone’s ideas are valid regardless of who they are. So it’s not just about meeting the needs of female employees — although that’s critically important — but also about age, experience, gender, orientation, color, and every other area of inclusion.”


Each of these testimonies reinforces that women want to feel valued, respected, and understood, and there are numerous ways for employers to demonstrate that. Meaningful, thoughtful, and personal gestures will go a long way and create a lasting impression. As a company founder of a female agency, I personally love to reward my team with personal gifts or self-care items that they would not spend money on for themselves, such as a massage or yoga membership, and by empowering them to take on more of a leadership role. 

For the curious, with the Tiffany’s gift certificate, I purchased a Paloma Picasso necklace that reads “LOVE,” a value that I prioritize in both my work and daily life. I wear this necklace almost every day and I never forget where it came from. In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s key to treat your employees like people, not transactions, because everyone can always use a little more love, all while moving up the leadership ranks.

This article was originally published on Insider on October 23, 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Virtual reality is offering timely narratives on race, diversity and culture by centering the perspectives of people of color

Blood Speaks_ Maya - The Birth of a Superhero
An image from Blood Speaks: Maya – The Birth of a Superhero.

  • Developers are using virtual reality to recreate both historic and everyday events, and allow users to hear and experience different perspectives.
  • Some experiences are designed to encourage people to look at their own behavior, while others tell lesser-heard stories. 
  • One takes users back to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, while another documents the discrimination experienced by a Black male during throughout his life.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As demand for virtual reality and augmented reality continues to grow, people are increasingly using it to learn about racism or hear more stories from people of color.

Read more: What is augmented reality?

In some cases, developers are using the technology to recreate historic events and instances of racism in the hope it will make people address their own misconceptions, Axios reported. In other cases, projects led by people of color are creating highly inventive experiences that entertain as much as they educate. 

Demand for virtual reality is set to boom over the coming years. Shipments of VR headsets are expected to grow 48% annually over the next four years, according to estimates from the International Data Corporation.

The technology is allowing developers to create interactive documentaries, likened to “living museums.”

As part of this, people are using the technology to encourage empathy with marginalized groups. VR simulations show people what it’s like to be homeless, pregnant, in a wheelchair, autistic, or a different race, according to Erick Jose Ramirez, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at Santa Clara University.

“The idea is that technology might help us better understand what it’s like to be someone on the receiving end of racist violence [which] can help us understand the roots of our own racism and then combat it,” Ramirez wrote.

Read more: Google employees sent a letter demanding leadership changes and a stronger commitment to ‘academic integrity,’ as tensions over AI ethicist’s exit continue to rise

Studies have previously suggested that adopting a different race during a VR experience can affect people’s unconscious behaviors during gameplay.

‘I Am A Man’ takes users back to the civil rights movement of the 1960s

“I Am A Man,” made by independent VR developer Derek Ham, takes users back to the key events of the US civil rights movement leading up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike.

It combines historical film and photographs with voice narrations from actual civil rights participants, and worked alongside the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis to ensure its accuracy.

I Am A Man VR Experience from on Vimeo.

 

“The vision is to give people an experience of history in a way that provides a more personal understanding of the struggles of these marginalized people,” Ham said on the website.

“The VR experience allows one to literally walk in the shoes of people who fought for freedom and equality during the civil rights era. Most importantly, this project gives users a deeper awareness of their struggle.”

The project, which has won awards, including at the Cleveland and Nashville film festivals, can be downloaded from the Oculus Store but is also available for web, mobile, and screen immersive viewing.

Everyday racism

But not all these VR projects focus on historical events. Some, such as “1,000 Cut Journey,”  look at the everyday life of Black people to show how they face racism on a daily basis.

In the VR developed by Stanford and Columbia Universities, an assistant professor at Columbia’s School of Social Work, users witness the discrimination experienced by a Black male during both his childhood and adult life in the classroom, the workplace, and by police. This is all condensed into 12 minutes.

And “Traveling While Black,” produced by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams and Emmy Award-winning Felix & Paul Studios, takes users to Ben’s Chili Bowl, a diner in Washington DC that was used by many Black people as a space safe during the Jim Crow laws.

During the experience, users converse with diners who discuss their experiences of restricted movement and race relations as a Black person in the US. The experience aims to confront the way people both understand and talk about race.

 

“If you’re not African American, you get to go into a space and be part of a conversation that you probably normally would not be privy to,” Williams told The Guardian. “If you are Black, you get to delve deep into that inner trauma that we all carry with us in America as Black people.

“I think that’s really powerful in the way that 2D storytelling can’t provide.”

VR is a vehicle for companies to teach staff about implicit bias

These VR projects aren’t just for personal use. Some are being launched on a corporate scale, too, as an innovative way to provide workplace equality, diversity, and inclusion training. 

Vantage Point, for example, uses VR to teach both Fortune 500 companies and schools about racial discrimination and gender inequality. Vantage Point works alongside companies in the US, UK, Ireland, and France. During the pandemic, it has been shipping headsets to clients.

PwC and tech startup Talespin have launched similar VR implicit bias training, which immerses participants in scenarios where they learn to make inclusive hiring decisions and point out instances of discrimination.

Training programs like these could become more common in the future.

US companies spend $8 billion annually on diversity and inclusion initiatives, yet research shows that they’re actually more segregated now than they were 40 years ago.

VR could be an option for companies to ramp up their implicit bias training – and a PwC study found that it’s actually more cost-effective that classroom-based training. Participants learn quicker and stay more focused, too.

virtual reality VR

Beyond borders

In the UK, immersive technology is also being used to highlight the experiences of people from all backgrounds and ensure their voices are being heard. 

One timely example of this is The CreativeXR program, which is run by Digital Catapult and Arts Council England, and features a varied range of VR and AR-based stories, many of which have been created by people of color.

Blood Speaks: Maya – The Birth of a Superhero, Munkination, SONG, and A Place to Be are among these inventive offerings. Some can be accessed using VR headsets such as Oculus Quest; others via a mobile phone. 

In Blood Speaks, an ordinary 21st-century girl transforms into a superhero whose powers derive from the process of menstruation. The unflinching story is moving and thought-provoking in equal measure.

The project, which was developed specifically for Oculus Quest using Quill and Unity, is inspired by the stories of women in Nepal who are forced into exile because their menstrual blood is considered impure, according to creator Poulomi Basu.

In a statement, Basu said: “The first phase has seen massive impact and helped activate policy change in Nepal. With a little brown girl magic, we are looking to forge new audiences through this female-led narrative that features voices that reconfigure audience perceptions of BAME [black and minority ethnic] characters and, through their interaction with Maya, we want to inspire our audience to find the magic within themselves.”

Musical projects lend themselves particularly well to immersive mediums as Munkination – a hip-hop opera with a futuristic story about climate change at its heart – demonstrates.

Its creator, HAM The Illustrator, said in a statement: “I created this experience because I want to engage my community. There aren’t many stories by and for people like me, and I want to tell a story that puts us at the forefront; our heritage, our perspective, and that history of living in equilibrium with nature, because we don’t have much time left, and we all need to be involved.”

Equally, SONG, an immersive 360° performance based on the K-Pop phenomenon, also uses music to tell a powerful story. The action takes place inside a “planetarium” installation and features simultaneous live streams in VR and 2D environments.

According to creator Sammy Lee, the project emerged out of a deep commitment to the future of the performing arts, driven by the energy of pop music as military technology. 

A scene from A Place To Be
A scene from A Place to Be.

Finally, A Place to Be, by The Independent Film Trust, explores the black British experience beyond the constraints of the present day. The 360˚ VR experience is set in a south London shebeen and uncovers the untold histories of Black Britons. Set in 1981, days before the Brixton uprising, the experience transports viewers to one of the unlicensed clubs that offered a safe space to the African-Caribbean community away from systemic racism. 

Fans of immersive technology should expect to see many more similar inventive AR and VR experiences from a range of providers in 2021, as demand for diversity and culture-based projects continues to align with the need for creative ways to stay connected.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How developers are using immersive tech to offer timely perspectives on race, diversity and culture

virtual reality VR
  • Developers are using virtual reality to recreate both historic and everyday events, and allow users to hear and experience different perspectives.
  • Some experiences are designed to encourage people to look at their own behavior, while others tell lesser-heard stories. 
  • One takes users back to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, while another documents the discrimination experienced by a Black male during throughout his life.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As demand for virtual reality continues to grow, people are increasingly using them to learn about racism or hear more stories from people of color.

In some cases, developers are using the technology to recreate historic events and instances of racism in the hope it will make people address their own misconceptions, Axios reported. In other cases, projects led by people of color are creating highly inventive experiences that entertain as much as they educate. 

Demand for both virtual reality is set to boom over the coming years. Shipments of VR headsets are expected to grow 48% annually over the next four years, according to estimates from the International Data Corporation.

The technology is allowing developers to create interactive documentaries, likened to “living museums.”

As part of this, people are using the technology to encourage empathy with marginalized groups. VR simulations show people what it’s like to be homeless, pregnant, in a wheelchair, autistic, or a different race, according to Erick Jose Ramirez, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at Santa Clara University.

“The idea is that technology might help us better understand what it’s like to be someone on the receiving end of racist violence [which] can help us understand the roots of our own racism and then combat it,” Ramirez wrote.

Read more: Google employees sent a letter demanding leadership changes and a stronger commitment to ‘academic integrity,’ as tensions over AI ethicist’s exit continue to rise

Studies have previously suggested that adopting a different race during a VR experience can affect people’s unconscious behaviors during gameplay.

‘I Am A Man’ takes users back to the civil rights movement of the 1960s

“I Am A Man,” made by independent VR developer Derek Ham, takes users back to the key events of the US civil rights movement leading up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike.

It combines historical film and photographs with voice narrations from actual civil rights participants, and worked alongside the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis to ensure its accuracy.

I Am A Man VR Experience from on Vimeo.

 

“The vision is to give people an experience of history in a way that provides a more personal understanding of the struggles of these marginalized people,” Ham said on the website.

“The VR experience allows one to literally walk in the shoes of people who fought for freedom and equality during the civil rights era. Most importantly, this project gives users a deeper awareness of their struggle.”

The project, which has won awards, including at the Cleveland and Nashville film festivals, can be downloaded from the Oculus Store but is also available for web, mobile, and screen immersive viewing.

Some focus on racism experienced in day-to-day life

But not all these VR projects focus on historical events. Some, such as “1,000 Cut Journey,”  look at the everyday life of Black people to show how they face racism on a daily basis.

In the VR developed by Stanford and Columbia Universities, an assistant professor at Columbia’s School of Social Work, users witness the discrimination experienced by a Black male during both his childhood and adult life in the classroom, the workplace, and by police. This is all condensed into 12 minutes.

And “Traveling While Black,” produced by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams and Emmy Award-winning Felix & Paul Studios, takes users to Ben’s Chili Bowl, a diner in Washington DC that was used by many Black people as a space safe during the Jim Crow laws.

During the experience, users converse with diners who discuss their experiences of restricted movement and race relations as a Black person in the US. The experience aims to confront the way people both understand and talk about race.

 

“If you’re not African American, you get to go into a space and be part of a conversation that you probably normally would not be privy to,” Williams told The Guardian. “If you are Black, you get to delve deep into that inner trauma that we all carry with us in America as Black people.

“I think that’s really powerful in the way that 2D storytelling can’t provide.”

VR is a vehicle for companies to teach staff about implicit bias

These VR projects aren’t just being used for personal use. Some are being launched on a corporate scale, too, as an innovative way to provide workplace equality, diversity, and inclusion training. 

Vantage Point, for example, uses VR to teach both Fortune 500 companies and schools about racial discrimination and gender inequality. Vantage Point works alongside companies in the US, UK, Ireland, and France. and during the pandemic, it has been shipping headsets to clients.

And PwC and tech startup Talespin have launched similar VR implicit bias training, which immerses participants in scenarios where they learn to make inclusive hiring decisions and point out instances of discrimination.

Training programs like these could become more common in the future.

US companies spend $8 billion annually on diversity and inclusion initiatives, yet research shows that they’re actually more segregated now than they were 40 years ago.

VR could be an option for companies to ramp up their implicit bias training – and a PwC study found that it’s actually more cost-effective that classroom-based training. Participants learn quicker and stay more focused, too.

Beyond borders

In the UK, immersive technology is also being used to highlight people’s experiences from all backgrounds and ensure their voices are being heard. 

One timely example of this is The CreativeXR program, which is run by Digital Catapult and Arts Council England and features a varied range of VR and AR-based stories, many of which have been created by people of color.

Blood Speaks: Maya – The Birth of a Superhero, Munkination, SONG, and A Place to Be are among these inventive offerings. Some can be accessed using VR headsets such as Oculus Quest; others via a mobile phone. 

In Blood Speaks, an ordinary 21st-century girl transforms into a superhero whose powers derive from the process of menstruation. The unflinching story is moving and thought-provoking in equal measure.

Blood Speaks_ Maya - The Birth of a Superhero
A scene from Blood Speaks: Maya – The Birth of a Superhero.

The project, which was developed specifically for Oculus Quest using Quill and Unity, is inspired by the stories of women in Nepal who are forced into exile because their menstrual blood is considered impure, according to creator Poulomi Basu.

In a statement, Basu said: “The first phase has seen massive impact and helped activate policy change in Nepal. With a little brown girl magic, we are looking to forge new audiences through this female-led narrative that features voices that reconfigure audience perceptions of BAME [black and minority ethnic]  characters and, through their interaction with Maya, we want to inspire our audience to find the magic within themselves.”

Musical projects lend themselves particularly well to immersive mediums as Munkination – a hip-hop opera with a futuristic story about climate change at its heart – demonstrates.

Its creator, HAM The Illustrator, said in a statement: “I created this experience because I want to engage my community. There aren’t many stories by and for people like me, and I want to tell a story that puts us at the forefront; our heritage, our perspective, and that history of living in equilibrium with nature, because we don’t have much time left, and we all need to be involved.”

Equally, SONG, an immersive 360° performance based on the K-Pop phenomenon, also uses music to tell a powerful story. The action takes place inside a “planetarium” installation and features simultaneous live streams in VR and 2D environments.

According to creator Sammy Lee, the project emerged out of a deep commitment to the future of the performing arts, driven by the energy of pop music as military technology. 

A scene from A Place To Be
A scene from A Place to Be.

Finally, A Place to Be, by The Independent Film Trust, explores the black British experience beyond the constraints of the present day. The 360˚ VR experience is set in a south London shebeen and uncovers the untold histories of Black Britons. Set in 1981, days before the Brixton uprising, the experience transports viewers to one of the unlicensed clubs that offered a safe space to the African-Caribbean community away from systemic racism. 

Fans of immersive technology should expect to see many more similar inventive AR and VR experiences from a range of providers in 2021, as demand for diversity and culture-based projects continues to align with the need for creative ways to stay connected.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How the rapidly growing Hive Diversity app is connecting students with big companies that put equality and inclusion at the forefront of recruitment

Hive
Students and graduates can use the app to connect with potential employers.

  • Hive Diversity, which launched in October, is a virtual recruiting platform that wants to match diverse students to employers with a focus on equality, diversity, and inclusion.
  • It’s already partnered with big-name companies including Accenture, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the owner of Jimmy Choo.
  • Its founder Bryan Slosar spoke to Business Insider about Hive, which was founded with students in mind.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The killing of George Floyd in May awoke a major socio-political movement across the globe. As the Black Lives Matter movement gathered momentum across the world, major companies were quick to respond and issued statements supporting activists.

But despite the push to take positive action, some major employers have come under fire recently for not prioritizing diversity in the workplace.

Black staff at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative say they are ‘underpaid, undervalued, and marginalized,’ employees have spoken out about Salesforce’s slow progress in improving workplace diversity, and UPS only overturned its ban on delivery staff having beards and diverse hair styles in November.

Hive Diversity is a virtual recruiting platform that wants to change that.

The platform connects employers with a focus on EDI (equality, diversity, and inclusion) with eager-to-learn college students from under-represented communities.

Hive was founded in October 2020 by Byron Slosar, who spent the last 15 years in the careers industry.

Bryan Slosar
Hive was founded by Bryan Slosar.

He first thought up the concept in 2015. He was working at Tulane University when a young trans student who knew Slosar was part of the LGBTQ+ community approached him asking for career advice. The student told Slosar he wanted to work at a company where he could be his “true self” and feel at home.

Five years later, Hive has launched, and it’s growing rapidly.

The company works with more than 2,000 students from more than 225 American universities.

Some of this is rapid growth thanks to its network of more than 200 student ambassadors, who encourage their peers to join the scheme.

And some of it is because of Hive’s big-name partnerships. For its first cycle, Hive has partnered with 24 companies including Accenture, Atlantic Records, Saks Fifth Avenue, Steve Madden, and Capri Holding Limited, which owns the fashion brands Versace, Jimmy Choo, and Michael Kors. The companies all put an emphasis on diversity, and are working with Hive to ensure their recruitment processes reflect that.

Read more: Nasdaq needs SEC signoff for its game-changing rule on board diversity. Here’s a look at how it could play out.

What sets Hive apart from other recruitment platforms is that it was built with the students in mind, not the companies, Slosar told Business Insider.

One of his key ideas was to gamify the platform. Students have to complete five levels of courses based on their personal and professional development, including videos, text, and quizzes related to preparing for job interviews and thinking about career goals. Undertaking these gamified tasks keeps them engaged and shows their commitment to employers, Slosar explained.

And convenience is also an important driver for the company. Students can do the lessons on their phones via the Hive app, meaning they’re not tied to a schedule like other careers classes, Slosar explained.

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Students and graduates can use the app to connect with potential employers.

Another way Hive has adapted to its college userbase is through its resume builder, Slosar told Business Insider. Its website includes a patent-pending resume builder which, unlike many others, is mobile compatible. Students are provided with a template with resume formatting, so that they just have to fill out the content, meaning the focus is on them and their skills rather than how well they can format a resume.

Hive provides students with more than just the opportunity to apply for jobs, Slosar explained. The partner companies put on virtual information sessions through Hive, where students can ask questions about different career paths and speak to recent graduates about their experiences. Through this, Hive focuses on meaningful engagement between talented students and prospective employers, Slosar said.

Though students get a lot out of Hive, they don’t pay to join. “They pay by putting the work in,” Slosar told Business Insider.

Employers also benefit from recruiting through Hive, Slosar explained.

Whereas most employees get EDI training on the job, students registered at Hive undertake an EDI module before being employed.

In addition, partner companies get aggregate data on students “following” them on the site, such as their locations, courses, and interests, which they can then build into their recruitment strategies.

Accenture, which is one of Hive’s partner companies, said that workplace diversity can help create a wider culture of equality. The company is collaborating with Hive Diversity “because they complement our purpose of combining human ingenuity with technology to serve a greater good,” Joseph Taiano, managing director of marketing & communications at Accenture, told Business Insider.

One of Hive’s core beliefs is that a student is worth much more than just their grades.

The Hive recruitment process focuses on the values that students’ skills, interests, and background can bring. It uses this information to connect the students with like-minded employers.

Hive focuses on students, ranging from first years to recent graduates. In doing so, Slosar hopes to cause a systemic change by creating an organic pipeline of talent in the future, he told Business Insider.

Slosar hopes Hive will help democratize the workplace by removing hurdles such as money and personal networks from the job-seeking process.

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It’s time to do something about how expensive it is to be poor in America

kenosha business
  • Minority-owned businesses are disproportionately affected by chronic market failure.
  • This won’t change unless more established players commit to innovations.
  • Economic equality could mean a $1.5 trillion boost to the economy, which is a no-brainer investment.
  • Michael Froman is Vice Chairman of Mastercard and Former US Trade Representative.
  • Wole Coaxum is a Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mobility Capital Finance, Inc.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

America is a global leader in business and innovation. And yet despite this reputation we haven’t put that ingenuity to work to tackle one of our country’s most critical economic challenges: how expensive it is to be poor. 

America’s financial system systemically fails low income families and communities. As our country faces both an unprecedented public health crisis and a struggling economy, those who were already financially vulnerable now find themselves without the means to meet their basic needs and at risk of falling further behind. 

Communities of color, particularly Black families and Black business owners are disproportionately impacted by chronic market failure. The median net worth of white families is ten times higher than that of Black families and Black consumers spend 50% more per month for basic banking services. Over a lifetime this adds up to a staggering burden which can reach about $40,000 in elevated interest costs, surcharges and excessive fees to access money through payday lenders, auto title loans and other alternative financial arrangements. 

In New York City, there are, on average, three times the number of bank branches per 1000 residents in areas with majority white populations, compared with areas with majority-minority populations. And traditional credit scoring models effectively exclude vulnerable communities from accessing the financing they need to build their business. Without economic access, efforts at improving social justice will sound like one hand clapping.  

Making our financial system work for everyone

Achieving equal access to financial services requires established players to bring a new mindset to the table and new players to challenge the status quo. We need innovation that is both commercially sustainable for businesses and can foster trust amongst cautious consumers. 

For example, allowing people to use digital technology to receive money and send money to relatives affordably or make real-time bill payment and check deposits by phone can go a long way toward addressing this need. It may start with a simple mobile app, but soon enough, savings, insurance, credit building start becoming a reality for far more people.

Progress in expanding digital financial tools has historically been glacial. As important as they are, philanthropies and nonprofits, cannot solve for these challenges alone. 

Our organizations, Mastercard and MoCaFi are coming together to explore a digital-first approach, to create affordable, sustainable, and scalable solutions that can create a more level playing field. 

There is a long history of overly high interest rates and extractive fees charged to underserved communities by payday lenders, pawn shops and other alternative service providers. Alternative financial services is a $180 billion industry. Low-income people don’t have fewer needs than affluent consumers, so reaching them with better products makes commercial sense for entrepreneurs and established companies alike. 

Making business work for minority-owned business

The need for innovative finance doesn’t just apply to individuals. This year has also put a much-needed spotlight on the need for secure, reliable and digital access to capital for micro and small businesses across the US, as many have struggled to survive through the pandemic and move their services online. 

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) have been a lifeline, particularly for minority-owned and women-owned businesses that have been disproportionately adversely affected and have struggled to get support through traditional channels. 

CDFIs have had to undergo their own innovation curve this year – processing more digital applications and issuing loans electronically at scale. One organization, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF), created the online Spark Platform to address the increasing demand. The platform helped ease the application process and enabled more than one hundred small lenders to disburse $6 billion of loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. 

For many underserved entrepreneurs, having a support network like that provided by CDFI’s enabled them to ask questions about federal funding, ensure deadlines for applications were met, and allowed for secure, digital access to capital during the darkest times. We need to ensure these organizations receive the technology, tools and support they need to scale operations.

Creating a more equitable future is the right thing to do and makes business sense. The only truly sustainable growth is inclusive growth. Should we succeed in bridging the wealth and opportunity gap faced by Black Americans, the benefits would be felt by all. It is projected that should progress be made on economic equality, we would see not only greater social cohesion in the United States, but an additional increase in economic activity of over $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. That is a worthy investment.

Coaxum is a Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (“MoCaFi”). MoCaFi is a start-up financial technology company that leverages mobile technologies, data analytics and digital strategies to improve the financial behaviors of underbanked communities. 

Froman is Vice Chairman of Mastercard and Former U.S. Trade Representative

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