Easy reading for you today, since I’m on my way to join some of the Fortune gang at the Great Place To Work For All Summit, the annual gathering of people from companies on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies To Work For list.
It’s fast become one of my favorite conferences, in part because it’s an opportunity to explore in depth how companies are creating the kind of inclusive cultures that drive outsized business results.
It’s also just fun to be around people who are building businesses while removing barriers, big and small, to make the world a safer, more prosperous, and equitable place.
I’ll be gathering stories and insights for future columns, trust me, but you can also catch me on the main stage.
Tune in Thursday at 8:45 AM San Francisco time, to catch me quizzing four luminaries from Cisco:, Fran Katsoudas, Chief People Officer; Mark Chandler, Chief Legal Officer; Irving Tan, Chief of Operations; and Amy Chang, SVP, Collaboration Technology Group, on how Cisco has been able to stay on Fortune’s100 Best Companies List for 22 (!!) years.
More news below.
|A man who devoted his life to end racism in health care has died|
|Bill Jenkins was a government statistician when he discovered the deeply disturbing and unethical Tuskegee syphilis study in the 1960s, in which researchers allowed syphilis to go untreated in a population of black men to “study” the course of the disease. After a long battle to expose the study, he devoted his life to fighting racism in health care. Here’s just one example: Jenkins went on to become a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was among the first to recognize how dramatically AIDS was affecting black men. He was 73.|
|New York Times|
|The definitive guide to Yalitza Aparicio|
|This sharply observed profile by Carolina A. Miranda looks beyond the obvious fairytale element of Aparicio’s excellent adventure – the former school teacher from the small agricultural town of Tlaxiaco, made into a global star by the Mexican corner of Hollywood. She is of mixed Indigenous heritage; her father is Mixtec and her mother is Triqui, a street vendor and domestic worker, respectively, and Aparicio herself is notoriously retiring. There is no performance training in her background. And there is a profound symbolism to her choice of profession, a schoolteacher or “normalista” as pedagogical students are called, and one that relates very directly to the central violence in the film. Click through to learn more about the steel armature that lies beneath Aparicio’s sweet exterior.|
|Los Angeles Times|
|Nine black women who are driving inclusion in corporate America|
|The good folks from the inclusion consultancy and platform Aleria have been working overtime this Black History Month to introduce new black women leaders to their readers. It’s part of an oft-updated directory of talent on their Awesome Black Women page. This final blog post introduces the world to nine truly awesome woman who all have corporate jobs in diversity and inclusion, in Goldman Sachs, LinkedIn, Twitch, Lowe’s and beyond. Scanning the list almost makes you feel… hopeful. Enjoy, and invite them to your conferences. (Great work, Paolo Guadiano.)|
|What Facebook content moderators see|
|This is a deeply chilling story, filled with graphic stories of violence, murder, mental health, and racism. It is the darkest part of the internet’s dark underbelly – the most disturbing content people post on Facebook and the human content moderators who must watch it and decide whether to remove it. The task is outsourced to a company called Cognizant, and the work is so horrifying that it sounds like a rejected dystopian novel. “It is an environment where workers cope by telling dark jokes about committing suicide, then smoke weed during breaks to numb their emotions,” says reporter Casey Newton. “[W]here people develop severe anxiety while still in training, and continue to struggle with trauma symptoms long after they leave…it’s a place where the conspiracy videos and memes that they see each day gradually lead them to embrace fringe views.”|
|Emotions are contagious, but you knew that|
|It’s a simple concept – a smile eliciting a smile from a passerby and lifts both your moods. But research shows that emotional contagion is real. If you become happier with your life, there’s a 25% nearby friends will feel happier with theirs, says Yale sociologist Nicholas Christakis, who mapped the day-to-day interactions of 5,000 people over a period of 32 years. Now, imagine what happens to this phenomenon online. A study from Stanford showed that positive posts in a Facebook newsfeed elicited more positive posts from users. But viewing negative posts elicited more sad or angry postings. It’s a smaller effect than the in-person interactions, “but [the study] suggested that emotions can move through networks through contagion,” says Jeff Hancock, a communications researcher and the co-author of the study.|
|Good things to eat, as suggested by Rufus Estes|
|Rufus Estes was born a slave in Tennessee but died a culinary legend. After the Civil War, he learned to read and write well enough to work out a recipe; a series of cooking jobs, including one at a prestigious French restaurant after he migrated to Chicago in 1881, helped him perfect his skills. Later, as a chef for a luxury Pullman rail car, he became a star. His nearly forgotten cookbook, Rufus Estes’ Good Things To Eat, is one of the first such books by an African American chef. It even has a whole section on sauces, including gooseberry sauce, lobster butter, royal sauce and sauce tartare. History, yum.|
|Before California was West, it was North and East|
|This gorgeous essay (again, I notice, by Carolina A. Miranda, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers) helps rescue the history and spirit of Los Angeles from the usual Westward-ho fare – railroads and Dust Bowl migrants and filmmakers making blockbusters in what were once orange groves, yadda yadda. That version of history “is California as a bubbly blonde,” she writes. But the truth is more complex. California was the northernmost part of the Mexican empire, and the eastern landing point for Chinese immigrants, after a long and dangerous passage. The stories of these overlapping origin stories and residents are told in a utilitarian map of Los Angeles Miranda discovered hanging the first floor of the Chinese American Museum. It is a reproduction of an early 20th-century street plan filled with names and places that reflect the lives of the people who were standing on the beach when it was “discovered.” In some interesting ways, their influence lives on.|