5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: March 24

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.

1. Ketanji Brown Jackson Hearing Wraps Up

The three days of public questioning in the Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice wrapped up on Wednesday. 

The day continued with questioning about her sentencing practices in child pornography cases, which some deemed as being too light. But as Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, has said her sentencing record in these types of cases is “pretty mainstream.” It’s also been noted that prosecutors were looking for lighter sentences in five of the nine cases that were brought up during the three days of questioning. 

On Day Two, she was asked about her stance on Critical Race Theory because she’s on the board of Georgetown Day School, which teaches CRT. Jackson said the subject doesn’t come up in her work and that the board “does not control the curriculum.”

Throughout the hearing, Jackson touched on the importance of public service, which she has said is important to her because her parents were public school teachers and her brother a military service member and police officer. 

When asked if she found her experience representing Guantanamo Bay detainees to be rewarding, she said she did. 

“Public service is very important to me. It is an important family value,” she said. 

On Thursday, the committee will hear from witnesses about Jackson’s nomination. Her nomination will be considered by the committee on March 28, but a vote likely won’t take place until April 4.

2. US House of Representatives Passes CROWN Act

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2116, better known as the CROWN Act, which stands for the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act. It passed on a vote of 235 to 189 and 14 Republicans joined all House Democrats in support of the act. 

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., introduced the legislation, which bans discrimination “based on the individual’s hair texture or hairstyle if that hair texture or that hairstyle is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.”

The legislation mentions hairstyles “in which hair is tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros.”

More than 12 states have already passed legislation similar to the CROWN Act.

3. The Importance of Creating an ESG Narrative

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments went mainstream last year and are expected to pick up steam in 2022. And with more and more companies getting involved, third-party ESG rating providers have popped up, which aren’t always consistent. 

Companies turn to these third-party providers because there’s so much investment-grade ESG data and not enough in-house experts to mine through this data and make it digestible and useful. But companies need to figure out how to get through the data and handle its delivery to craft an ESG narrative. 

To start the process, companies must conduct a materiality assessment that figures out which ESG issues matter to the company’s bottom line and the goal of its investors. The delivery of this information can be successfully done through an accounting framework that has data analytics and reporting capabilities. 

Head over to DiversityInc Best Practices to learn more about ESG and responsible investing, and learn about the importance of the “E” and “S” in ESG at DiversityInc.

4. Looking at DEI Through a ‘Glocal’ Lens

More global companies continue to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, but is it working across the globe or just in America? Some have argued it is an American issue. 

According to Havard Business Review, discrimination, biases and inequality exists around the world, but some companies have only focused DEI narratives, discussions and solutions in the U.S. and not in a local context to other places in the world. 

Not thinking about DEI in a local context could lead to little success with “one-size-fits-all” initiatives. Harvard Business Review writes that “it’s time to diversify DEI.”

To do this, HBR suggests focusing on the management term “glocal,” which is a combination of the words “global” and “local.” The term “describes a management approach that balances the need for global strategies and practices with local adaptation” and was coined by sociologist Roland Robertson.

The term “glocal” allows companies to create a vision and strategy for DEI that “defines broad areas of focus while also allowing flexibility for local adaptation within those key areas,” HBR writes.

5. School Boards Have Become Battlegrounds for Culture Wars

As culture wars over mask mandates, education processes and more have erupted around the nation, they are expected to infiltrate school boards even more. 

The mask vs. anti-mask battle is a prime example of this, which Lisa Schoenberger got a taste of at an August school board meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, when she spoke in favor of mask-wearing policies, she told Time magazine. She tried to settle the crowd by sharing a line from Frozen II, her 5-year-old’s favorite movie, in which a character solves a problem by deciding to “do the next right thing.” 

“I share the frustration of all of the people who are really, really tired of this,” she said. “But when you have a difficult decision, all you can do is the next right thing. And I believe that that’s what masking for one more month will do for our children.”

She was met with boos from other parents before she even stopped speaking, Schoenberger said, and the mask mandate never came to a vote after three hours of comments from the public. One board member was absent because they had COVID-19, and of the members there, no one seconded the motion to put the proposed rule in place, with applause from attendees when it didn’t move forward. 

After this experience, Schoenberger was more worried about the culture of the school district than COVID-19 and decided to run for a seat on the local board of education to encourage respectful debates and prevent “school board meetings from being derailed by partisan politics.”

With topics like anti-gay bills and Critical Race Theory popping up, more confrontational conversations are likely to be had in school districts around the U.S.

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