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Freedom to Wear Natural Hair at Work Benefits Employee and Company

Research from Accenture found allowing an employee to be their authentic self is linked to advancement, and Rah Thomas is a good example.

By Sheryl Estrada , Alana Winns and Christian Carew

Rah Thomas made a decision early on in his corporate career to work at a company that would not only accept his dreadlocks but would encourage him to wear the hairstyle.


Thomas, 37, a managing director in Accenture's ( No. 14 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) Infrastructure Operations practice and co-lead of the African American employee resource group, has been growing his dreadlocks for almost 20 years.

His family is from Cape Verde, off the coast of northwest Africa. He told DiversityInc that as a part of his culture, "I can't cut my hair unless someone dies or someone is born."

"As I got into corporate America, I had to make some decisions," he explained. "Was corporate America going to define me, or was I going to continue to define myself?"

Thomas once interviewed for a company, which he wouldn't name, that challenged his hairstyle.

"They were pretty clear in saying, 'This is not how we do business,'" he said. "And, I declined the offer."

But now at Accenture, Thomas is thriving in an environment that not only allows for but also encourages him to be his authentic self.

"We have an obligation to ensure each person — she, he or they — feels safe, valued and able to show up every day as their authentic self," Accenture's Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer Ellyn Shook told DiversityInc.

"When this happens, we unlock people's full potential. By serving our people, we ultimately serve the business."

Thomas said that "Accenture's done some good research around, if you bring your [authentic self] to work, you are more likely to progress throughout your career."

New research from the company has identified 40 workplace factors that create a culture of equality – including the 14 factors that matter the most. The research, published in Accenture's "Getting to Equal 2018" report, details the most effective actions that business leaders can take to accelerate advancement and help close the gender pay gap.

The research found that enabling employees to be themselves shows respect for individuals that fosters goodwill.

Not asking employees to conform to a dress or appearance code, as well as trusting and giving them the responsibility and freedom to be innovative and creative, are linked to advancement.

Accenture

Accenture surveyed more than 22,000 working women and men with a university education in 34 countries to measure their perception of factors that contribute to the culture in which they work.

While Thomas works in an environment that appreciates his cultural heritage expressed through his hairstyle, an Alabama woman, Chastity Jones, is taking her dispute with Catastrophe Management Solutions (CMS) over wearing dreadlocks to the Supreme Court.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) has become involved in Jones' five-year battle. On April 4, the LDF filed a petition to add U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) v. CMS to the Court's docket to overrule a 2016 judgment that it's legal for companies to refuse employment based on hairstyles.

In 2010, Jones was offered a job as a customer service representative at CMS, a call center in Mobile, Ala., under the condition that she would remove her dreadlocks, as they "tend to get messy," said a human resources representative. The company rescinded the offer of employment when Jones refused to change her hairstyle.

Related Story: Federal Court Rules It's OK for Employers to Prohibit Dreadlocks

The EEOC filed a race discrimination lawsuit against CMS on behalf of Jones in 2013, stating, "Dreadlocks are a manner of wearing the hair that is physiologically and culturally associated with people of African descent."

In 2016, U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan upheld a claim from a 2014 ruling by an Alabama federal judge that found the company's hairstyle policy did not violate federal anti-discrimination law as racial discrimination had to be based on characteristics that didn't change.

Jordan wrote for the 2016 ruling, "Discrimination on the basis of Black hair texture (an immutable or unchangeable characteristic) is prohibited by Title VII, while adverse action on the basis of Black hairstyle (a mutable or changeable choice) is not."

LDF attorneys wrote in their petition to the Court that the human resources representative's statement that dreadlocks "tend to get messy" is a "false racial stereotype":

"The question presented is: Whether an employer's reliance on a false racial stereotype to deny a job to an African American woman is exempt from Title VII's prohibition on racial discrimination in employment solely because the racial stereotype concerns a characteristic that is not immutable."

AbbVie: Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Community Health Center at a Time

From ensuring backup energy sources to introducing a telemedicine program, Direct Relief anchors Puerto Rico's resurgence in good health.

Originally Published by AbbVie.

For a Local Doctor, Home is Where The Heart Is

It was summer 2017, and Dr. Yania López Álvarez had just returned to Puerto Rico. A new doctor eager to bring her knowledge back to the island, the 35-year-old radiologist turned down more lucrative job offers on the mainland for the chance to practice at home close to her family.

But a few months later, Hurricane Irma slammed into Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria came just weeks after, pummeling the island, destroying homes and causing widespread power outages that lasted for months. The official death toll stands at 2,975 people.

A lack of electricity, running water and jobs prompted many to leave the island. An estimated 135,000 people left Puerto Rico in the six months following Maria, according to a report by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

Dr. López chose to stay.

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Update: Illinois Task Force Rushes to Release Details That Contradict 'Security' Hat Claim

Jemel Roberson family's attorney says the task force has a habit of not disciplining, firing, or criminally charging officers in police shootings.

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The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force released a preliminary report less than three days after the shooting of Jemel Roberson, Black security guard in Robbins, Ill, which contradicted what witnesses and Roberson's family attorney have said.

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Marriott International Expands "Culture Day" Program Worldwide In 2018

Immersive trainings offer hotel staff and corporate customers deep dives into 13 cultures, underscoring company's aim to welcome all, elevate customer satisfaction and drive business; the newest culture days: Native American and LGBTQ.

REUTERS

Originally Published by Marriott International.

Marriott International announced the expansion of its groundbreaking Culture Day program aimed at fostering multicultural understanding to ensure welcoming environments at its hotels and increase guest satisfaction. Since Marriott founded the program in 2014, the company has hosted more than 50 Culture Day trainings in over 30 cities and eight countries. During 2018, demand for the program doubled as more hotels as well as corporate customers requested this training.

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Racial Attack on Black Woman in NYC Being Investigated as Hate Crime

A white man stabbed Ann Marie Washington in a subway station and "started punching her in her face because she was Black," a witness said.

A 57-year-old Black woman is recovering from surgery to repair a collapsed lung because while exiting a subway in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was punched in the mouth and stabbed by a white man who called her a "Black b--ch" The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack as a hate crime.

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Novartis: Artificial Intelligence Decodes Cancer Pathology Images

Novartis researchers are collaborating with tech startup PathAI to search for hidden information in pathology slides.

Originally Published by Novartis.

For 150 years, pathologists have been looking through microscopes at tissue samples mounted on slides to diagnose cancer. Each assessment is weighty: Does this patient have cancer or not?

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For the second year in a row, GQ Magazine has selected a woman for its annual Man of the Year issue. Last year's cover featured Israeli-actress, Gal Gadot. The cover was light and cute. It could've been an advertisement for "The Women's March." This year, tennis-legend Serena Williams, won the "honor." Only her cover isn't a celebration of her athletic prowess and excellence. It's outright racist.

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Update: Black Security Guard Gunned Down by Police Was Wearing a 'SECURITY' Hat

Not only was he clearly identifiable, but officers on the scene knew Jemel Roberson. A civil rights lawsuit has been filed against "Officer John Doe" and Midloathian Village.

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Jemel Roberson, age 26, shot and killed on Sunday by a white cop in a Chicago suburb, was wearing a hat that said "SECURITY" on it, clearly identifying himself as an ally to the police.

Officers circled his body in video footage, after telling the unnamed officer, who is a four-year veteran of the force, that Roberson was "one of us."

The medical examiner in Cook County ruled Roberson's death a homicide by multiple gunshot wounds.

Beatrice Roberson, Jemel's mother, retained attorney Gregory Kulis who filed a civil rights lawsuit against "Officer John Doe" and the Village of Midloathian on Monday claiming the officer's actions were "intentional, willful and wanton" and that the shooting was "unprovoked," "unjustified" and "unreasonable."

"Jemel was trying to save people's lives," said Kulis. "He was working security. A shooting had just taken place inside the establishment. So he was doing his job and holding onto somebody until somebody arrived. And a police officer, it's our feeling didn't make the proper assessment and fired and killed Jemel."

Midloathian police expressed "heartfelt condolences" in a statement to the family.

Sherriff's office spokeswoman Sophia Ansari said the man shot by police, "turned out to be a guy working security for the bar."

Roberson was the father of a nine-month-old son with Avontea Boose, and was planning on getting an apartment for his family with his earnings from the job, according to Rev. Marvin Hunter, who also said Roberson was a promising keyboard player at several churches including his, and "an upstanding man."

Hunter is the great uncle of Laquan McDonald who was also killed by police in Chicago in 2014.

A vigil held outside Manny's on Monday was wrought with expressions of frustration, grief, and demands for action:

"Why? Why did you kill him?" Roberson's cousin, Candace Ousley asked. "It doesn't make sense. The police officer just saw a black man. I believe if he was indeed white, he'd be alive."

Another man at the vigil said, "This was not reckless policing, this was homicidal policing. They saw a black man with a gun. If he did not have a gun, his black skin made him a weapon.

"As a community, we demand respectful engagement. We want the police to treat our people with just a certain amount of dignity and respect. They patrol the Black community like some . . . Gestapo being judge, jury and executioner."

Another vigil attendee, Harvey Alderman Keith Price, called on State's Attorney Kim Foxx to open an investigation into the shooting.

"This could have been my son. This could have been any one of our sons," Price said. "So Kim Foxx, do the right thing, open up a full out investigation. That's what you got elected for."

Lane Tech College Prep, where Roberson graduated from, tweeted a remembrance of Roberson:

Related Story: Black Security Guard Doing His Job Shot Dead By Police

Jemel Roberson Remembered By Friends www.youtube.com

Anthony B. Coleman: Veterans Should Discover Their Passion and Allow it to Lead to a Profession

Coleman, talks with DiversityInc about his journey transitioning from life in the U.S. Navy to working for Kaiser Permanente as an Assistant Hospital Administrator.

Anthony B. Coleman, DHA, is the Assistant Hospital Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente, Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

He was born at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving aboard the USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Ardent (MCM 12). After completing a full sea tour he was transferred to shore duty, and earned a Bachelor's degree in Workforce, Education and Development, as well as a Master of Health Administration. He later earned a commissioned as a Naval Officer serving in various roles overseas and afloat, including Chief Financial Officer at U.S. Naval Hospital Beaufort SC, Human Resources Director at U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan and Medical Operations Officer onboard the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

Anthony retired in 2016 with 20 years of honorable service and holds a Doctor of Health Administration Degree and currently serves as the Assistant Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

DI: What was the initial transition like going from the armed services to a civilian career?

My initial thoughts on transition brought unnecessary anxiety. However, when I learned that my preceptor was a retired Air Force Colonel, it helped put me at ease about the transition. On my first day at Kaiser Permanente, the staff and physicians welcomed me and ensured that I had the support I needed to make a successful transition.

DI: What are some skills or habits you developed while serving in the military that have helped you in your current role?

Two things stick out in my mind as important.

The first is transitioning mindset from duty to desire. I joined the navy at 17, and during the first 3-5 years of my military career I didn't realize I was part of something bigger than myself so I competed tasks out of obligation (duty). After completing my first full sea tour, I realized how my efforts contributed to the overall mission of the U.S. Navy and the duties I carried out started to come from a desire to do so. This realization helped shape my leadership style and how I groomed young sailors early on in their enlistments. I wanted them to realize their very important part in the overall U.S. Navy mission and motivate them to bring their "A" game every day.

This has helped in my current role overseeing nine non-clinical departments (Housekeeping, Food and Nutrition, Engineering, Construction, Parking, Safety, Property Management, Telecommunications, Security and Supply Chain Management) where the majority of the employees I oversee are entry-level and can feel disconnected to health care because they are not physicians or nurses. However, I stress to them as often as possible that whether their job is to nourish the patient, clean and disinfect a patient room, make sure life-saving equipment is in working order, or any other of the hundreds of non-clinical functions they perform day in and day out, they too are vital to a patient's health and healing.

The second is attention to detail. Most times, my staff are the first and/or last interaction our members have with Kaiser Permanente. It is crucial for them to pay attention to every detail about the patient they encounter because each and every detail about the patient, large or small can help us do a better job in serving them. Sometimes, it may be as simple as a smile or word of encouragement that could make all the difference in the patient experience.

DI: What career advice can you offer to veterans or current military folks who are looking to pivot, and what types of jobs should they be looking for?

Stay current in world health affairs, as well as the political climate in the US. Now more than ever, politics are shaping our approach to health care and vice versa. Veterans and current military members should make sure they have an idea of where civilian health care is, as well as where it's going in the future, so they can demonstrate their value to potential health care employers.

Devote time to discovering their passion and allow it to lead them to a profession. So often, when military members plan to transition to civilian life, they tend to focus on their ability to continue providing for their families beyond military service. This can cause us to accept positions for the sake of securing post military employment, or accept positions that are not aligned with our core beliefs, or passion.

DI: Did you always have an idea of the type of career you wanted to pursue after the military?

Yes. As a matter of fact, I began planning my exit from the military in 2005 when I discovered my passion for eliminating health disparities however, because I was a single father of a 5 year old girl, my mom convinced me to complete a full career first.

In 2004, the Navy sent me to graduate school to learn how to be a health administrator. During the summer of 2005, I interned at Wallace Thomson Hospital in rural Union County, South Carolina. While there I met a kitchen worker who impressed me with her skill in preparing meals for all of the sick patients at the hospital, specific to their individual needs. Her name was Pee Wee and even though she never finished high school, and worked a second job to make ends meet she somehow found a way to show compassion for each patient while contributing to the healing environment.

After the rotation was complete, I went back to finish graduate school and learned that Pee Wee died of a stroke. She was 52. Her death really affected me and a began to look at how a person in America could die so young of a preventable health issue. That's when I learned about health disparities and discovered my passion for eliminating them. I understand that I may not be able to complete this task in my lifetime however, I am completely comfortable with making it my life's work at Kaiser Permanente.