5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: February 2

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. Investor Interest Underscores Importance of Culture and Inclusion in the Metaverse, KPMG Survey Shows

Over the next five years, investors plan to increase their investments in the metaverse, a new survey from KPMG LLP shows. (KPMG is No. 11 on Fair360, formerly DiversityInc’s 2022 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.)

While adults in the United States have yet to fully embrace the metaverse, over 90% of investors believe the metaverse is the next phase of the internet and will be used for training, learning experiences and meetings at work. 

In a statement to Fair360, formerly DiversityInc this week, Anu Puvvada, KPMG Studio Leader and Interim Metaverse COE Leader, said: “It’s encouraging to see investors bullish on the metaverse and to see that diversity, equity and inclusion considerations are at the forefront of investors’ minds. In order for mass adoption of the metaverse to occur and for it to truly transform the way we engage with each other, DEI needs to be at the crux of all metaverse strategies.”

In an interview with Fair360, formerly DiversityInc in October, Puvvada shared a story of how her daughter was bullied in Roblox and how she took it personally because she sees the avatar in the game as an extension of herself, which made Puvvada think about the importance of embedding a sense of culture, inclusion and belonging into the metaverse. 

“I think of it as similar to AI. If only a certain group is building and training AI models, then the AI itself will be skewed and biased. The metaverse is no different than that. To have an equitable, inclusive metaverse, we need to have diverse teams involved at every stage of the process. It can’t be an afterthought for us. We just started working with a diversity incubator, we just started leading sessions in the metaverse actually bringing together Chief Diversity Officers to sit down and talk about these things so that we can build the right metaverse and the right experiences.”

2. Could the Use of AI Hinder the Advancement of an Inclusive Workforce?

While the use of artificial intelligence (AI) has received backlash over the years, it’s clear that the technology isn’t going anywhere. 

Since humans have bias no matter how many unconscious bias trainings they take, some companies have thought about or started using data and technology to eliminate that bias and advance workplace inclusion, equity and belonging efforts. That all could depend on whether the data AI is processing is completely unbiased, which isn’t exactly easy to find.

For AI to find the best candidates for a job to create an inclusive workplace, the algorithms must be given past data on successful candidates. In most cases, the high-performing employees that show up in these data sets will be individuals who were designated as “high performers” by their managers. 

“While in principle the formula is similar to humans training AI to label a tree or a traffic light, there is far more subjectivity and bias when it comes to designating a human as ‘high-performing,’ Fast Company writes. “This bias then transfers to AI. Until we have massive sets of clean or non-corrupted data, we can’t rule out that we only transferred structured and systemic biases from the analogue world to the AI world.”

This is not lost on AI developers, however. Fortay, an AI-driven team success platform recently released an “Inclusive Leadership Development” tool, a multi-use assessment, performance, and development 360 multi-rater tool that helps leaders gauge their inclusiveness across three critical dimensions – Continuous Growth, Foster Belonging, and Empowerment. The central aim is to measure leader behaviors that enhance employees’ perceptions of deep integration into the social environment in the workplace while providing necessary support through a lens of identity-related consideration.

“The future of work is inclusive. Progressive businesses that develop this critical capability of inclusive leadership are the ones who will succeed and grow,” Fortay CoFounder and CEO, Marlina Kinnersley told Yahoo Finance. With all the heightened focus on DEIB in recent years, we all expected to see sustainable and lasting progress but the numbers tell an opposite story. More than ever, employees are leaving for more inclusive companies for greater well-being and mental health and how organizations show up for The Great Leadership Transformation is imperative.”

3. Cleveland Organizations Hold ‘Signing Day’ for IT Apprenticeships

The Greater Cleveland Partnership and other businesses and organizations in the Cleveland, Ohio, area held a “signing day” this week to bring young people on board through apprenticeships in various roles in the Information Technology sector. 

The signing day is part of a job accelerator program in the city that trains people from underrepresented populations in IT roles. The initiative is called the Workforce Connect IT Sector Partnership Talent Accelerator. 

Yasmin Abdul-Khaliq, told Ideastream Public Media that she signed on with KeyBank (No. 18 on Fair360, formerly DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity list). She said she was going to school for nursing but later realized her passion was IT. 

“If you would’ve told me five years ago, when I was sitting in my room crying about just going through life in nursing school, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be here today,” she said.

4. Yale Law Professor Says Murder of Tyre Nichols Calls for Employing ‘Civic-Minded Officers’

The murder of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers has brought the conversation of diversity in police roles back into focus.

The five officers who were fired and charged in the death of Nichols were Black. A white officer who was involved was not charged and has been relieved of duty, not fired, and two staff members from a fire department in Memphis who have not been identified are under an internal investigation for the care of Nichols and were also relieved of their positions. 

As part of years-long efforts to combat racism in policing, hiring a more diverse staff has always been a proposed idea. Racism in policing, however, is not simply a matter of individual officers acting inappropriately, it works on a systemic level, as is stated in the conclusions of an eight-year long study titled “Systemic Racism in Police Killings: New Evidence From the Mapping Police Violence Database.” Racism, though not always overt, can be found in the policies of police departments and in the attitudes of some officers, which has negative consequences for communities of color. 

The SCORPION unit that was involved in Nichols’ death and has since been disbanded had a focus on “high-crime hotspots” in Memphis, 64% of which are majority Black neighborhoods, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“But in city after city, for decades now, what police leaders have seen is that the idea of those specialized units almost always leads to the kind of thuggish, cowboy behavior, the extreme version of which we saw in Memphis,” Yale Law School professor James Forman Jr. told ABC News.

Rather than focusing solely on diversifying the police force, Forman suggests that departments should focus on accountability and employing civic-minded officers. 

“We have to change who we recruit, how we train them, whether and how we hold them accountable, what mission and mandate we give them, what we tell them they should do and what is legal for them to do,” he said. “Those are the things that have to change much more than the individual race of the officer.”

5. Quiet Hiring is on the Horizon for Companies

The world heard a lot about “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing” in 2022, and this year, a new trend has emerged: “quiet hiring.”

Quiet hiring is the act of an organization attaining new skills without employing new people full-time, which can be done through hiring contractors on a short-term basis and moving employees to other roles within the company temporarily. 

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Forbes Women Editor Maggie McGrath said employers should proceed with caution when encouraging employees to upskill or reskill themselves to avoid burnout. 

While many employees are looking for stretch assignments, “if they are given these extra responsibilities and not a commensurate increase in pay, they could feel undervalued and underappreciated,” she said. “Those feelings could lead to burnout, and burnout could lead to the quiet quitting trend we saw in 2022. So, proceed with caution.”

Visit Fair360 Enterprise to read more about upskilling.


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