5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: September 29

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. Research Outlines Lack of Representation of Black Americans in the White House

A report titled “Black Representation Among Commissioned Officers in the Biden White House” from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies shows that only 11% of President Biden’s commissioned officers are Black, a low number from the 22% of Black Americans who voted for him.

Spencer Overton, President of the Joint Center, said in a news release from the organization that Black Americans should “be at the table at the highest levels when critical policy decisions are being made.”

“The Biden administration’s appointments to high-profile positions like the cabinet and the Supreme Court are historic, but better Black representation in less visible but incredibly consequential commissioned officer positions is also important. Additional Black representation is particularly warranted in the very top positions — assistant to the president and deputy assistant to the president,” Overton added.

2. Virginia Students Protest Governor’s Transgender Proposals

Thousands of high school students in Virginia walked out on Tuesday in protest of proposals from Gov. Glenn Youngkin that would impede protections for transgender students.

Students from approximately 100 high schools staged walkouts across the state and held signs and flags in support of LGBTQ+ students.

Youngkin’s proposed policies would reverse current standards from the state’s department of education and require students to use locker rooms and bathrooms that match their biological sex.

Lauren Truong, a high school student that led her classmates in a walkout, told The Washington Post that she knew several LGBTQ+ classmates who were concerned over how the new policies would affect them.

“We want our school districts to stand up for us and support us and say that they’ll reject these guidelines,” she said.

3. Newsom Signing Requires California Employers to Disclose Pay Ranges

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a state transparency law this week that will require nearly 200,000 companies in California with 15 employees or more to disclose pay starting in 2023.

The law makes California the largest state where job-applicant pay information is mandated. This law and other online companies that disclose pay information is nudging corporate America to post salary ranges for job positions even when it is not required.

Bloomberg Law reports that “companies elsewhere can accept—or bristle at—the readily available and sometimes inaccurate pay data available online to potential applicants willing to invest a few minutes with a search engine or on sites such as Glassdoor Inc. or Indeed.com.”

4. Virgin Atlantic Allows Staff to Wear Uniform of Choice Regardless of Gender

Airline Virgin Atlantic announced that it is allowing pilots, flight attendants and ground staff to wear uniforms they feel most comfortable in, meaning they can wear its red skirt suit or burgundy pants regardless of their “gender, gender identity or gender expression,” the airline said.

Virgin Atlantic said it announced this gender identity policy to be more welcoming and inclusive and show the diversity of its workforce. This move comes after the airline decided its cabin crew could show their tattoos.

Crew and passengers can also request to wear pronoun badges to make sure their preferred pronouns are used.

5. What Employers Should Know About Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month takes place each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and serves as a time to learn about the accomplishments of Hispanic and Latinx people in the United States.

It’s also a great time for employers to recognize and schedule events in the workplace around this holiday and to teach the workforce about its importance.

One way employers can recognize Hispanic Heritage Month is by sharing the experiences of Hispanic and Latinx people. One example of this is Maritza McClendon, an Afro-Latina Olympic medalist who is championing diversity in swimming. Click here to watch a video interview McClendon did with Fair360, formerly DiversityInc to learn about the swimmer.