5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: June 3

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience. This week’s update covers Pride Month, the impact of state abortion restrictions on employees and more.

1. Virginia Governor’s Mention of the Creator in State Diversity Training Offends Employees

A diversity training released by the office of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin included references to a “creator,” religious language that offended workers who viewed the content of the message as inappropriate. The training material is mandatory for new state employees.

The video, titled “Working Together for Virginia,” is an attempt to comply with laws passed in 2020 that require the state’s HR agency to provide cultural competency and diversity training via online courses. It included narration in the courses that took pieces from Youngkin’s inaugural speech, such as “everyone of us is made in the image of our creator” and “what is seared in our heart by a loving, almighty creator is not a desire for power or conquest.”

“Politics plays a role in being state employees that are subject to political whims,” an employee told Virginia Mercury. “But never before this have I seen any sort of overt religious bias injected into anything that’s aligned with the state.”

The video is roughly eight minutes in length and makes up the entirety of the administration’s DEI trainings. The project was begun under former Governor Ralph Northam. Officials from Northam’s administration say that the original training that was developed was roughly one hour long and that mentions of the “creator” are an addition from the new administration.

2. Television Producer Shonda Rhimes is Working with Netflix to Lead Expansion of DEI Programs in TV and Film

Shonda Rhimes, best known for her work as a producer, writer, creator and showrunner for television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, is working with Netflix to create new opportunities for creatives in TV and film.

Rhimes is leading two new initiatives. The first, called The Producers Inclusion Initiative, is a nine-week virtual program to train indie producers, unit production managers, supervisors and first assistant directors. Participants will learn from executives and production department heads at both Netflix and Rhimes’ own production company known as “Shondaland.”

The second program is known as “The Ladder” and aims to provide underserved communities with opportunities to gain on-set experience in departments such as production, locations, costumes, assistant directors, stunts and sound.

Both programs are underwritten by Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity.

3. Wells Fargo Publishes First Diversity Report

Banking giant Wells Fargo (ranked No. 29 on DiversityInc’s 2022 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) published its first diversity and inclusion report this week, outlining both the progress the company has made as well as the great deal of work to be done. A few of the notable achievements from the report include:

  • Female executives increased 2.6% from last year
  • Black executives increased 3.1%
  • Latino executives increased 0.8%

Despite this, 73.3% of the company’s executives are white. Challenges around diversity in the finance and banking industries, however, are hardly unique to Wells Fargo. In fact, the company’s numbers are similar to other financial institutions. Business Insider reports that at both JP Morgan and Bank of America, the percentage of white executives exceeds 75%.

A long journey ahead remains to get racial equity in the banking and finance sector where it needs to be, but it’s one that Kleber Santos, Wells Fargo’s head of diverse segments, believes the company is prepared for.

“As I’ve said before, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so we know there is much work to do in the years ahead,” he said in an interview with Business Insider. “We need to continue to measure our progress in a data-driven way and engage diverse talent across the company, as well as outside stakeholders, to get their feedback and suggestions.”

4. Pride Month Kicks Off Amid Tumultuous Time for LGBTQ Community

Pride month is underway, and it couldn’t come at a more troublesome time for the LGBTQ community as it faces attacks from conservative narratives and legislation. In the latest example of rhetoric driving broader societal conversations, we see the demonization of the LGBTQ community unfolding before us through the term “grooming.”

Conservative politicians and pundits have taken to labeling anyone who opposes their anti-LGBTQ legislations, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” as “groomers.” The term might be confusing to some but is rooted in fear and used as a propaganda tool the same way the term “thug” has been used to create fear of various ethnic groups.

The term itself refers to the psychological manipulation and coercion that sexual predators use to abuse their victims without being caught. This likening of helping kids to understand personal and sexual identity in a different way than previous generations to predatory behaviors is an obvious, grotesque mischaracterization and a clear attempt to create fear and anger toward the LGBTQ community and those who support it.

We take a deeper look into this latest trend and how it mirrors a dark history of demonizing the LGBTQ community in this month’s Meeting in a Box. We also look at a timeline of significant events in LGBTQ history and highlight some of the progress that has been made in the face of the adversity that the community faces.

To read this month’s Meeting in a Box, log in or subscribe to DiversityInc Best Practices.

5. How Changes to Abortion Laws Impact Employees

In the wake of a leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion in which justices appear to overturn Roe v. Wade, businesses have been left in a position where they suddenly need to take a stance on an issue that impacts the lives of many of their employees.

The new state laws that reduce a woman’s right to access abortion services could force a current employee to decide to quit her job in order to carry out an unwanted pregnancy. Even without quitting her job, unwanted pregnancy would impact a woman’s career.

But the biggest impact might be on recruitment. Public opinion research firm PerryUndem recently surveyed 1,804 adults with a college degree who work full-time or are looking for a full-time job. The results included the following.

  • A large majority support abortion access and consider the issue part of gender equity in the workplace.
  • Two-thirds said the Texas ban would discourage them from working in the state and 64% said they would not apply for a job in a state that passed a ban like Texas.
  • About half said they would consider moving out of state if lawmakers in their state passed a similar ban.

Click here to read more about how state abortion restrictions that could come in the wake of an overturning of Roe v Wade would impact employees.

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