5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: April 21

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. Biden Administration Makes Progress on Equity Action Plan

The Biden Administration released a White House update on progress made to Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which was signed by the President on his first day in office. 

In the update, Biden provides information on how the 90 federal agencies in the federal government and 50 independent agencies worked quickly to implement the order. These agencies conducted assessments of some “high-impact services for the American people” to see where “systemic barriers to access may exist.”

“Using those findings, agencies developed Equity Action Plans for addressing—and achieving—equity in their mission for all Americans. Equity Action Plans were required to include accountability mechanisms and to identify success metrics and key milestones toward progress,” Biden said. 

These plans help work toward the advancement of equity, but Biden said it’s not something that can be fixed in a year. “It is a generational commitment that will require sustained leadership,” he added.

2. Lords of the Underground Rapper DoItAll Runs for City Councilman in New Jersey

Dupré “DoItAll” Kelly, a community activist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and one-third of the ‘90s hip-hop group Lords of the Underground, is looking to add “City Councilman” to his resume. 

Kelly is running for the Newark West Ward councilman seat, and if elected on May 10, he will be the first platinum-selling hip-hop artist to hold a public office in a major U.S. city. 

Reflecting on a conversation he had with the late rapper Tupac Shakur when they were in their 20s, Kelly said his candidacy is important for hip hop as well as politics. 

“What he said is we have to sell millions of records so we can turn those millions of record buyers into voters. And once they’ve turned into voters, we can’t move from where we’re from. We then have to become elected officials. If we don’t create the laws, then they’re going to always be made against us and not for us.”

At the time, he said he shrugged off what Shakur had to say but understands the importance of his message today. 

“I don’t have to do this, I HAVE to do this,” Kelly said.

3. Michelle Obama’s Brother Sues Milwaukee Private School Over Alleged Racial Bias

The brother of former first lady Michelle Obama and his wife have filed a lawsuit against the University School of Milwaukee (USM) for alleged racial bias and issues of inclusiveness. 

The couple – Craig and Kelly Robinson – filed a 25-page lawsuit with a Wisconsin circuit court that argues their two sons were expelled despite being high-achieving students after the Robinsons raised concerns over the treatment of students of color at the private school. 

Craig Robinson told a Milwaukee TV news station that he and his wife raised concerns to the school when their sons started attending school online during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“That opened up a window into the classroom, and what we saw was a repeated use of racial and ethnic stereotypes in actual assignments, a disregard for children who weren’t physically in the classroom and an insensitivity to socioeconomic status,” he said. 

The couple filed multiple reports with the school and said USM received them but didn’t take action to address their concerns. 

In a statement, USM said the Robinson’s two boys were not removed from the school over complaints from the parents. 

“We cannot and will not tolerate persistently disrespectful, bullying, or harassing behavior directed at our devoted and hardworking teachers and administrators. Such conduct that makes faculty feel unsafe not only violates our Common Trust pledge and Parent-School Partnership but also interferes with USM’s operations and precludes a positive and constructive working relationship between the school and the families we proudly serve. When such parental conduct threatens the educational environment we have created, we have no choice but to take action.”

4. The Importance of Checking In on Employees

Some managers think an employee is happy at work if they are getting their work done on time, contributing ideas and not complaining. But the truth is, those employees are oftentimes applying for other jobs.

An article from Harvard Business Review shares the story of a woman who did just that despite getting work done on time, voicing no complaints and checking her email 24/7. During the pandemic and after two years of working remotely, this woman decided to rethink her priorities and found a new job as a result of her “well-intentioned but busy boss” failing to check in about career development, conversations not related to work and ignored messages asking for support.

“As a result, frustrations built up and she left, and with it went her institutional knowledge, client relationships, and contribution to the team’s culture,” HBR writes. 

This example shows why managers need to ask employees about their happiness. Some ways in which managers can do that is by setting up an informal chat with the employee and letting them know ahead of time that this is not a performance review. Send an email telling them you appreciate their work and have them think about questions beforehand such as “What part of your job are you enjoying the most?” “How have you been feeling about being able to balance work and home?” 

From there, mentally transition yourself from the projects and all the other things you’re doing to prepare for this conversation. Ask yourself questions like, “Who is the person I am speaking with and what does it take for them to do their job each day?” “What would be the impact on me and our team if this person left tomorrow?”

5. Study Reveals Diversity Gap in Senior-Level Accounting Positions

A new study from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA) found that there is a “significant diversity gap” between accountants in senior-level positions and the broader accounting profession in the United States. 

The study shows that Black people make up 8.5% of the accounting profession but only 1% of partners at CPA firms in the U.S. and 1.5% of CFOs of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies are Black. 

Diverse talent interviewed for the study said they don’t think they are moving up the ranks to these positions because equity and inclusion are lacking in the field. 

“Although our research highlights the stark reality facing the profession today, it also presents a great opportunity,” Jeff Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE, IMA President and CEO, said in a statement. “Members of our profession are telling us that the only way to overcome today’s DE&I challenges is to collaborate to enact meaningful change, and collective action needs to be taken now.”