Hispanic voters living in key states—Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Nevada—surged to cast their ballots early this weekend, buoying the hopes of the Clinton campaign. “[T]he evidence from polling and the early voting turnout seemed to indicate [Donald Trump] was facing the possibility of sweeping losses in states with sizable Hispanic populations, most likely affected by the racially tinged language he has used since beginning his campaign over 16 months ago,” reports the New York Times.
None of this surprises Dr. Ximena Hartsock, the co-founder of Phone2Action, a rapidly growing and profitable technology company that helps companies, trade associations, and non-profits launch advocacy campaigns that connect voters with lawmakers. “The sleeping giant woke up,” she says of the Hispanic turnout.
“We saw a huge spike in voter registration in our mobile app on National Voter registration day on September 27th,” she says. The effort then shifted to get people to the polls early: “Texting is the most popular activity on mobile for Hispanic consumers—they have a 98% open rate—which make it the perfect weapon for ‘get out the vote.’”
(To see their tool in action, text VOTA to 40649. Information about polling locations and candidates will pop up with an encouraging message: Vamos a votar en esta elección!)
That people are surprised is a big part of the problem, she says. “There is this perception that low-income Latino voters, particularly parents, don’t use technology much at all, but especially not to organize and get informed,” she says. “That is completely untrue.”
Not only are these voters enthusiastic early adopters of tech and social tools, she says, “they’re policy savvy, and are digesting information about issues and candidates to use it for the good of their communities.” The alarming rhetoric about wall-building and immigration has gotten the attention of Hispanic voters. “For Latinos, this election is not partisan,” she says. “It’s personal.”
The Chilean-born Hartsock took an unusual route to tech entrepreneurship. For one, she’s a trained philosopher-educator. “I wanted to teach philosophy in high school in Chile,” she says, “but the U.S. is really a better ecosystem and culture for working women.” She continued her graduate work in the U.S. and ended up in school administration, working in underserved schools in Washington, D.C. That was when she had her first big insight.
“I was the principal of the Ross Elementary School when the iPhone first came out,” she recalls. The school primarily serves low-income African American and Latinx families. “Most of the parents got one right away, and were super excited about what it meant for the future,” she says.
The parents were also keenly aware of the disconnect between how their kids were being taught and the skills that the workplace now requires. “We’re teaching kids the same way we were 20 years ago,” she says. Parents may not know what to do about it, but they know that the same old schooling isn’t going to help their kids succeed as adults. “That one hour of code thing?" she says. "They know it’s not enough.”
It was the first of many insights that set Hartsock on a path of entrepreneurship, system change, and venture capital. Click through for her whole story.
Latina hotel workers are making election waves in Las Vegas
They make the beds, they change the towels, they clean the toilets and turn the mattresses. They are the nameless union members that hotel guests pass in the halls of the toniest Las Vegas resort casinos, but who, in increasing numbers, are using their voices to amplify their concerns about life in the US. The 57,000-member Culinary Union, a supporter of Nevada Democrats, is now 56% Latinx—a jump from 35% just 20 years ago. And they’d like a word.
A Kenyan-based crisis team is deploying to the U.S. to monitor the elections
Ushahidi, or “testimony” in Swahili, is a technology organization that uses a crowd-sourced platform that lets people document and report on rapidly moving situations that might descend into chaos, like contentious elections. Their platform lets anyone report their experience—in this case, voter intimidation or suppression is a big concern. Their goal is to support the work of trained election monitors by giving them real-time information from polling places that may be unsupervised. “It’s just one way for us to get a snapshot of what’s happening on election day,” says the executive director.
Russell Simmons: Trump’s slogan could be ‘Make America Racist Again’
In the latest edition of the always excellent Fortune Unfiltered, the rap mogul/yogi/activist/philanthropist had strong things to say about the election, Hollywood, climate change, the outsized power of big business, and our tortured relationship with race. “After Donald Trump is gone and after this campaign is gone we still have work to do in this country to unify this country,” said Simmons. “I do recognize we’ve gone backwards.” He also weighed in on the lack of diversity in Hollywood. “They don’t get that you need cultural people in the senior positions to help you to choose cultural people that will help you make a difference.” Headphones on, the conversation is definitely unfiltered.
Study: Employees, customers expect big corporations to speak out on social issues like discrimination and justice
Major companies are feeling more and more pressure to weigh in on important social issues, a study from the Public Affairs Council finds, and the vast majority expect that trend to grow. Although much of the heat comes from senior management, a majority of respondents said that employees not in senior management and customers (70% and 51% respectively) are driving the need for C-Suite leadership, wisdom and candor.
Medicine has a long history of failing black patients
A long and ugly history of racism has slowly morphed into a system where invisible biases mean that doctors continue to deliver sub-standard care to patients of color. Just one example: Studies show that doctors are less likely to administer necessary clot-busting drugs to black patients having heart attacks. As a result, black patients harbor a deep suspicion of traditional medicine. One Boston-area doctor hopes to heal the divide.
Ava DuVernay produces a short film for Common's new album but that’s not the best part
It’s a 21-minute film to promote the rapper/producer/actor/philanthropist's latest album, “Black America Again.” But it’s only partly about the rap. It’s mostly a celebration of black pride, beauty, and history, and a call for peace and reconciliation. It’s deeply abstract and absolutely beautiful. And Stevie Wonder makes a voice cameo! But that's still not the best part: It's that we live in a world where a talent like director Bradford Young (the cinematographer for DuVernay’s Selma) is allowed to make art and find an audience. You won't want to miss it.
The Woke Leader
Diverse teams are smarter, but you knew that
You might not know exactly why, though. According to consultant David Rock and neuroscientist Heidi Grant Halvorson, diverse teams scrutinize facts more carefully, are more objective, and are more likely to confront their own individual limitations. By breaking up workplace homogeneity, you can allow your employees to become more aware of their own potential biases—entrenched ways of thinking that can otherwise blind them to key information and even lead them to make errors in decision-making processes, they say.
Rising suicides among white, middle-aged women reveal struggles with chronic pain, lost opportunity
It’s happening in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, the wide-open lands around Durango, Colorado. For white, middle-aged women without a high school diploma, the suicide rate has doubled in the last fifteen years. The Washington Post has a heartbreaking report that digs deeply into the despair of lives lost: Most of the women who died by suicide worked physical jobs, had chronic pain, felt isolated from others, and had been taking a host of psychiatric medications. It’s a must read.
The House of Representatives is getting more diverse. Well, some of them
The bigger tent that Republicans promised in 2012 has not come to pass: The elected officials produced by Republican efforts don’t look at all like America’s electorate, points out Five Thirty Eight. Today, 87% of House Republicans are non-Hispanic white men, compared with just 43% of House Democrats. If their projections for Tuesday are accurate, then the number of white men in the House will decrease slightly for Democrats and increase for Republicans.