News Highlights: Week of October 2

We’re sending our daughters into a workplace designed for our dads, by Melinda Gates via LinkedIn

Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation believes that the 21st-century workplace clings to some outdated ideas, like one parent working while the other stays home and that the average employee is a white male. These concepts may have made sense half a century ago, but the workforce has drastically changed since then. Not only is the average employee just as likely to be a woman now, but the average workweek has grown from just under 40 hours to over 50 hours. So what are we left with? Gates says employees “find themselves straining to balance their jobs and their families” without inclusive company policies like paid parental leave or flex-time. Policies like these are inclusive because despite being half of the nation’s workforce, women still take on the lion’s share of childcare responsibilities, and without policies to support women and other caretakers, they may be left behind in the workplace or even self-select out. Gates notes that organizations suffer as well when employees “have to dedicate so much energy to simply keeping their heads above water, instead of thinking of ways to create more value.”

Trump administration tells court law does not ban bias against gay workers, by Daniel Wiessner of Reuters

After New York skydiving instructor Donald Zarda told a customer he was gay and she complained, he was fired by his employer. Zarda died in a base-jumping accident shortly thereafter, but not before he filed a lawsuit against the skydiving company. Now his estate’s lawyers are fighting for a Manhattan appeals court to rule that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex bias under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice urged the court to rule against that interpretation of the law, arguing that Congress never intended for the law to protect gay employees against bias. It’s a position the Trump Administration has taken before. LGBTQ groups are paying close attention; if the court rules in Zarda’s favor, the case may make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fat Bias Starts Early and Takes a Serious Toll, by Jane E. Brody of The New York Times

Researchers at Duke University find that implicit weight bias among children ages 9 to 11 is just as common as implicit racial bias among adults. People who experience weight-shaming are more likely to cope by binge-eating, are less able to maintain their weight loss, and report poor self-image, depression, and stress—which can then turn into a cycle of further weight gain and stress. While weight-shaming messages come from all directions—the media, health care, education, employment, peers, family, and friends—they are rarely addressed as a form of bias. To counteract some of the long-term psychological and physical effects of weight-shaming, the researchers suggest that schools and organizations support intervention and prevention programs and that recipients of weight-based microaggressions practice “positive self-talk.”

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