5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: January 5

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. Upping the Payment for Research Participants Could Expand Diversity in Studies

Medical research studies that pay people a decent amount in cash could up the participation rate of people from non-white and low-income households, according to a study from the Becker Friedman Institute. 

Another study mentioned by Stat News looked at whether cash payments could help increase more diverse participants in a COVID antibodies research study. Researchers sent invitations for the study to approximately 900 households in neighborhoods across Chicago that varied in terms of the racial and ethnic makeup of the people who lived there. 

The invitations asked people to take a small sample of blood and mail it in a pre-paid envelope back to the researchers. Compensation was randomized and included zero compensation, $100 or $500. 

The results of the mail-in study showed that 6% of people who received the invitation participated for zero compensation, and most participants were white and from higher-income households. For the $100 offer, there was a participation rate of 17%, but a wide gap in participants: 20% were from higher-income and white households while 10% were from lower-income and non-white households. 

“Offering a $500 incentive narrowed the gap almost completely; participation in all households increased to nearly 30%, which is considered a high rate for mail-in surveys,” Stat writes. 

2. Diversity Lacking in the Entertainment Industry in 2022

While there’s been pressure put on movie directors and entertainment companies to give more opportunities to people of color, women and other talent from marginalized communities, the amount of diverse talent in Hollywood dropped last year. 

According to the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, fewer major movies were directed by women and people of color in 2022 than in 2021. Of the highest-grossing movies in 2022, only 9% of the directors behind those films were women and only 2.7% were women of color, according to articles from Rolling Stone and Variety

Only 20.7% of directors behind high-grossing films last year were Black, Asian, Hispanic or Latino or multiracial compared to 27.3% in 2021.

This research comes on the heels of no women being nominated in the Best Director category at the Golden Globes last year, even after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled its diversity and inclusion standards for eligibility in the Best Picture category in 2020.

3. Nebraska Starts 2023 With a Diverse Slate of Lawmakers

Nebraska’s new legislature is the most diverse group the state has seen in its history. 

The state’s new group of 49 lawmakers includes 18 women as well as two Black, two Latino, one Asian American and two LGBTQ+ senators. There are 32 registered Republicans in the group and 17 registered Democrats. Twenty-three of those senators are from rural districts, 26 are from urban districts and there are at least 16 senators under the age of 50. 

Some issues that will be front and center for Nebraska include tax cuts, addressing the impact of inflation and revamping the school aid formula in the state. 

4. Congress Passes Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

As part of an amendment to the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill funded by the government that passed the House and the Senate last week, Congress passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The bill was passed into law by President Biden and will take effect in June. 

Under the PWFA, employers that have more than 15 workers will have to provide arrangements for employees and job applicants who are pregnant and for childbirth. The legislation also bans employers from discriminating against an employee or job candidate for accommodations related to pregnancy. 

Bloomberg Law writes that “the legislation essentially mirrors protections for disabled workers under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, but for pregnant workers and on a temporary basis. It adopts the same definition of a ‘reasonable accommodation’ as the ADA, an arrangement that doesn’t impact the essential functions of the job.”

5. What Was Top of Mind for Leaders in 2022

We’re in the first week of 2023, so there’s still time to reflect on the last year, which we did by looking back at conversations we had with company leaders in 2022. 

One of our last leader-focused conversations from 2022 focused on INROADS’ Yolanda Smith’s journey from an intern at the company to Chief Marketing Officer. She said being appointed to this role has brought her a “strong sense of accomplishment.”

“It’s an outward-facing recognition of the contribution and value that I’ve brought to INROADS so far and a personal validation that I am still able to grow in my career.”

During the summer at the 2022 Essence Festival, we caught up with Corey Anthony, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer and Development Officer at AT&T (a Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Hall of Fame company). Watch the video to learn about the company’s partnership with Essence Festival, the process behind deciding what AT&T presents at the event and more.