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Let’s Have A Beer

If you want to make your day a little brighter, I suggest you start with a beer.

More accurately, I’d start with Heineken’s latest ad campaign. It’s an elegant expansion of a simple trope – that even most difficult things can be sorted if you talk them out over a beer. The ad immediately has a different vibe: No scantily clad women, no sports viewing, no chest thumping. That alone makes it a stand-out.

But the #OpenYourWorld campaign is a true delight. In a short video, a series of strangers are paired up to complete a simple but mysterious set of tasks, but they don’t know what we do: That they vehemently disagree on an important topic – like climate change or transgender rights.

The big reveals are unusually effective.

Without spoiling too much, I’ll just say this: The video is an unexpected tribute to the diversity and inclusion dream and how plays out in offices every day. Sure, having a beer is a great way to connect. But it was the work that people did together to earn the beer that made a real connection possible. (From labor springs intimacy – is there a German word for that?) The big takeaway: Every day is a new chance to turn the stereotype two cubicles over into a person you can relate to.

Enjoy. Let’s have a beer sometime, eh?


Correction: Yesterday’s story on the drama with SheaMoisture’s offensive video ad accidentally linked to the collected speeches of Jefferson Davis, which many of you thought was an epic troll on my part. It was an error. Here is the correct link, with my apologies and promise to step up my troll game.

On Point

You know that cool FaceApp you’ve been playing with? It’s racistBut at least they’re sorry. FaceApp, which uses a neural network to transform photo selfies in a realistic way, has built a racist algorithm. The app allows people to change photos of faces in often hilarious ways – to age them, or switch gender. But one filter, designed to increase “hotness” just lightened skin tones and made people whiter. “We are deeply sorry for this unquestionably serious issue. It is an unfortunate side-effect of the underlying neural network caused by the training set bias, not intended behaviour,” FaceApp’s CEO told TechCrunch in an e-mail. And they’ve changed the name of the filter from “hotness” to “spark”, which hardly seems enough. But hey, scale: They’re adding some 700,000 users a day. Which begs a larger question. Who is going to hold the algo-makers accountable for bias that we can’t so readily see?TechCrunch

A scheme to get more women on tech boards seems to be working
Sarah Lacy has written a terrific short profile of Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, the well-funded founder of the e-commerce company Joyus, who until recently was one of many the women who preferred not to focus on the gender imbalance in tech. But no more. “Personally the Valley has been good for me, but at a macro level it’s not so great for women,” says Singh Cassidy. “Both of those are true.” Last year she started The Boardlist, a company that posts peer-nominated profiles of women who are qualified to be on boards and helps lead a robust conversation on inclusive leadership. The tale of the tape: Some 1,600 women have been nominated. Tech companies, including some big ones, have opened 250 executive searches, and 61 successful placements have been influenced by their site. Click through for their first quarter report.

An Uber suicide; a story of overwork and race
This is a heartbreaking story and one that raises many more questions than it answers. When Joseph Thomas landed his dream job as an engineer at Uber, the young family man – described as a tech version of Tiger Woods for his good looks and ambition – thought he had it made. But the Valley veteran suffered at Uber. He complained to his doctor of panic attacks and near-constant anxiety and told others that Uber’s abusive culture was brainwashing people. After he died by suicide last August, his family began searching for answers and hired a lawyer. “If you put a hard-driving person on unrealistic tasks, it puts them in failure mode,” his father said. “It makes them burn themselves out; like driving a Lamborghini in first gear.” Uber has so far declined to comment on the legal dispute except to say that Thomas never complained to the company of extreme stress or racial discrimination.
San Francisco Chronicle

Ivanka Trump supports equal pay measures more in words than deeds
Trump’s visit to Berlin to discuss women and entrepreneurship, her first international trip as part of her father’s administration, is being met with mixed reviews. She did voice support for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s equal pay legislation, which requires companies with more than 200 employees to report salaries and document any gender pay gaps. Yet, as Claire Zillman points out, she had little to say when her father quietly signed an executive order revoking the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order put in place by President Barack Obama. 

Only 5% of Congressional staff are black and that’s a problem
This opinion piece by Don Bell, the former president of the Senate Black Legislative Caucus, reminds us why representation matters. In the aftermath of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings, he saw little if any response from lawmakers. “If we had no real voice with the lawmakers we worked for, day in and day out, what did that say about our ability to effect meaningful change in communities of color across the country?” Bell is calling for a Congressional version of the “Rooney Rule” to make sure people like him – the son of custodians who worked nights at Walmart to survive as an unpaid fellow – are identified, supported and encouraged to serve. “Through decades of inaction, the world’s most deliberative body has perpetuated an undemocratic lack of diversity,” he says.
Washington Post

The Woke Leader

Why does gender neutral really mean “boy”?
Audra Williams raises a series of interesting points, commenting in part on a gender-neutral clothing line endorsed by Ellen DeGeneres for The Gap. The idea was empowering, but the boyish clothes were not. Why? Because girl stuff is for girls and boy stuff is for everyone. “There is such a devaluing of anything traditionally feminine that we’d rather chuck it out triumphantly than ever demean our boys with it,” she writes. Come to find out, this is a relatively new phenomenon. A hundred years ago, both boys and girls wore easily bleached white dresses until the age of six. And when gendered clothes became the norm, it was the boys who got pink. So where’s the sparkly stuff for boys? “As long as ‘feminine’ is treated as a synonym for ‘weak,’ girls are going to continue to be underestimated and boys are going to continue to be bullied when they step out of the gender box they’ve been put in.”
National Post

Spend a few minutes with HuffPo’s Lydia Polgreen
When Polgreen first left The New York Times to become the Huffington Post’s editor-in-chief, much of the buzz focused on her individual identity – a queer woman of color and the granddaughter of an Ethiopian farmer- rather than her grand vision. This piece from Nieman Lab remedies that. Polgreen has a tough job ahead: She must help Verizon, the site’s owner, understand how journalism works in a modern age while providing meaningful content to a deeply divided world. “…I feel that we’re living in this profoundly non-ideological moment, where the old sort of categories of red and blue feel inadequate to capture the polarization. We’re really living in a time of haves and have-nots.”
Nieman Lab

Why black babies are more likely to die than white ones
Across the U.S., black infants die at more than twice the rates of white ones; but in some urban areas like San Francisco, black mothers are more than six times as likely to lose their infants. In one black neighborhood in Washington, DC, infant mortality is ten times as high for black mothers than for white ones nearby. Why? Zoe Carpenter digs into the history of medical thinking on the topic, including investigation of possible variables in education level, poverty, and access to prenatal care. Controlled for everything, black babies are still more likely to die. One study even found that black women with advanced degrees were more likely to lose their infants than white women with only high school educations. Evidence increasingly points to the biological effects of racism and segregation; a heart-breaking, essential read.
The Nation


Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!
—Martin Luther