Puerto Rico in crisis
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Puerto Rico Declares ‘State of Emergency’ Over Wave of Gender-Based Violence; Twitter Launches New “Birdwatch” Community to Combat Misinformation; and More

Puerto Rico declares “State of Emergency” over recent wave of killings targeting women and transgender individuals.

Newly sworn in Gov. Pedro Pierluisi has declared that Puerto Rico is under a state of emergency following a recent wave of gender-based violence across the territory. According to CNN, “At least 60 direct and indirect femicides were reported in Puerto Rico in 2020, according to the local group Gender Equality Observatory.” 

Reporters Harmeet Kaur and Claudia Dominguez wrote that that figure “includes six trans femicides and 26 cases still under investigation or lacking information.” They added that “Puerto Rico’s police [have] also reported that at least 5,517 women were victims of domestic violence last year.”

“Gender violence is a social evil, based on ignorance and attitudes that cannot have space or tolerance in the Puerto Rico that we aspire to,” Pierluisi said in a statement following the announcement. “For too long, vulnerable victims have suffered the consequences of systematic machismo, inequity, discrimination, lack of education, lack of guidance and above all lack of action.”

Pierluisi’s executive order will include creating a committee tasked with increasing education and awareness of the problem, as well as providing added support and resources for those at the greatest risk for violence. Puerto Rico’s government is also working to develop a mobile app that would allow for immediate and anonymous emergency help for individuals who feel they may be at risk. 

Violence against women and trans individuals is a long-standing problem on the island. As far back as 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union began reporting that Puerto Rico had the highest per capita rate in the world of women over 14 killed by their partners.

Pierluisi said, “In order to eradicate gender-based violence, we have to make concerted efforts between the state and society where in addition to an inclusive plan, an educational approach also exists to teach our boys and girls that every human being must be respected, as well as empowering our future generations so we can eradicate this evil.”

Pierluisi’s state of emergency will be in effect until June 30, 2022.

 

Twitter launches new community of “Birdwatchers” to help combat spread of misinformation.

In an ostensible effort to follow through with the events leading up to former President Donald Trump’s permanent ban from the social media site, Twitter announced on Jan. 25 that they plan to launch “Birdwatch,” a new feature meant to combat misinformation and disinformation posted on their platform. NBC News‘ Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny reported that the community-based system “allows users to discuss and provide context to tweets they believe are misleading or false.” Collins and Zadrozny also noted that there would be accountability measures put in place for the new feature, saying “Priority will not be provided to high-profile people or traditional fact-checkers, but users will have to use an account tied to a real phone number and email address.” 

According to a demo viewed by NBC News, Birdwatch has elements of the moderation tools used at Wikipedia and at Reddit, allowing users to flag a tweet using a dropdown menu, and allowing participants to rate notes to “prevent bad-faith users from gaming the system and falsely labeling true tweets as false.”

In a press release, Twitter Vice President of Product, Keith Coleman said Birdwatch at launch will be a separate section of Twitter with the hope that the annotations will eventually be integrated and visible in offending tweets. 

“We know there are a number of challenges toward building a community-driven system like this — from making it resistant to manipulation attempts to ensuring it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors,” Coleman wrote. “We know this might be messy and have problems at times, but we believe this is a model worth trying.”

 

Diversity efforts need to be as fundamental as quarterly financial filings, Fortune urges.

Many companies make a big deal of announcing a new diversity initiative or diversity appointment/hire, only to go quiet again and never following up on what happens next. But in order for diversity and inclusion efforts to impart true and lasting change, many experts are now urging companies to report their diversity data just as frequently and as regularly as their company might provide profit numbers.

In a roundtable discussion conducted by Fortune, leaders from a number of industries agreed that “the key to keeping the momentum going lies in taking diversity as seriously as quarterly financial reports.”

Billy Dexter, a partner at executive search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, noted during the talk that “every other business initiative and strategy has resources and milestones. It has accountability,” before rhetorically asking “Why should this be any different?”

Crystal Ashby, interim president and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council, added that “[diversity efforts are] not part of any person’s performance contract so no one’s got accountability and it’s not being measured.” 

According to Fortune reporter Lucinda Shen, WW’s chief people officer, Kim Seymour said that she “approaches the issue as if she’s launching a product where analytics and metrics come into play. It’s also not just about hiring say an intern with a diverse background. It’s also about taking the ‘moonshot’ bets and putting in long-term talent pipelines.”

The executives concluded that keeping data available, transparent, and current is the best way to ensure any company’s diversity efforts continue to prosper. 

(What’s a good way of using metrics to measure your company’s DEI progress? The DiversityInc Top 50 competition.)

 

D.I. Fast Facts

11

Number of Black officials who have served in the U.S. Senate over its 232-year history. Newly elected Georgia senator Raphael Warnock is the most recent. Vice President Kamala Harris was the 10th Black senator elected to office and only the second-ever Black woman.
CNN

 

20

Number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in over a dozen states across the country following results of the 2020 election, according to the advocacy group, Freedom for All Americans
NBC News

 

$14 Million

Amount that an average Fortune 500 company can expect to lose annually if they have a gender bias hiring problem and select fewer female applicants in favor of male applicants of comparable qualifications.
Oregon State University study

 

76

Percentage of employers who believe the hiring demand in the U.S. will near or surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2021.
CareerArc

 

100,000,000

Number of COVID-19 cases worldwide as of Jan. 26 — three months after the November 2020 milestone of 50 million.
NBC News

 

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

 

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