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Ageism Remains a Problem in Business, Despite D&I Efforts to Correct It; UPS Ends Discriminatory Ban on Beards and Natural Black Hairstyles; and More

Ageism remains a problem in business, despite D&I efforts to correct it.

Nearly 2 out of 3 workers over the age of 45 have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job, according to the AARP. A study in 2019 reported that 80% of older workers have had their career trajectory impacted by their age, with more than 60% of individuals in middle-management or higher positions fearing their age may prevent them from getting a new job if they were to be laid off. More recently during our COVID-19 pandemic, the AARP also found that “older workers were 17% more likely to become unemployed than their slightly younger peers.” Once out of work, these men and women over the age of 45 are also much less likely to be hired back at the rate of people who are younger. “While age is in theory often part of a DI initiative, it is rarely put into actual practice,” argued professor Lawrence R. Samuel, Ph.D. in a new essay in Psychology Today. Older workers are simply not welcome in Corporate America, he said, despite the added experience, perspective and wisdom they can bring to a business, enhancing its bottom line. And unless a movement equivalent to Black Lives Matter or MeToo comes about for older workers, he fears that is unlikely to change. “[We need] not just a multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-gender workforce but a multi-generational one [as well],” he argued. “[It’s] in the best interests of all kinds of organizations and society as a whole. Let’s work to make it happen.”


UPS ends their ban on beards, natural black hairstyles and other sexist policies.

In a move that has been long requested by employees within the shipping giant, the Wall Street Journal has reported that UPS Inc. has finally decided to end its longstanding ban on things that the company considered “unprofessional.” The ban had previously included beards, mustaches that went below the crease of the lip, men’s hair that was longer than collar length and hairstyles like “afros, braids, curls, coils, locs, twists and knots.” (For a company whose workforce is 79% male, 24% Black, and 16% Hispanic according to their 2019 Sustainability Report, the policies were incredibly unpopular.) UPS also eliminated potentially sexist requirements for uniforms, which included minimum lengths for female employees’ shorts. The changes in policy were brought about by CEO Carol Tomé, the first woman to lead the company since taking over the position in May 2020. Tomé has also stepped up employee training, including an effort to combat unconscious bias and promote diversity and inclusion. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped the company increase package volume by more than 10%. In 2018, UPS agreed to pay a $4.9 million fine after a judge ruled that the company’s restrictions on employee appearance amounted to a form of discrimination.


ProPublica publishes articles in “plain language” to enhance inclusion for the developmentally disabled.

The nonprofit newsroom ProPublica has stepped up their inclusion efforts for readers within the disabled community by publishing a new series of stories on individuals with developmental challenges in what they call “plain language.” According to Harvard University’s Nieman Lab, plain language is “a type of text that uses common words, short sentences and clear structure to make information more accessible to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Unlike Braille, alternate language or audio versions of news stories that can be converted into more accessible formats through a word-for-word translation, the plain language versions of ProPublica’s pieces have been rewritten entirely by Becca Monteleone, a professor of disability studies at the University of Toledo. According to Monteleone, individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities are historically written “about,” as opposed to them being written “for or with” — in other words, people with disabilities aren’t able to read text that directly affects them. “When you do that, there are some real and oppressive consequences,” Monteleone told Nieman Lab. “You can then tell a person with an intellectual disability, ‘Oh, you don’t understand, so I’ll make decisions on your behalf.’ I think that’s a really dangerous paradigm to set up. When you write things down in plain language, more people have access to the same information.”


D.I. Fast Fact

12 weeks

The wait times on popular anti-racism titles at Boston Public Library, where interest in books like White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi has soared in recent weeks. 

NBC Boston


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


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