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raceAhead: PayPal’s Diversity Report, Facebook’s Blind Spot, Puerto Rico Waits

October 13, 2017, 4:11 PM UTC

Your week in review, in haiku.



Fall of a titan,

from a whisper to a scream.

Hollywood’s ending.



California burns,

Puerto Rico waits. Are more

concerts the answer?



Dying in Niger –

yet not worthy of a tweet,

or thoughts and prayers?



Racially profiled

by Kremlin bots and pranksters!

Not so great again.



Ahh, West Wing chaos!

Paging Olivia Pope:

She’ll know what to do.


Wishing you a peaceful and scandal-free weekend.

On Point

Paypal’s diversity report shows progress for women….The company released its second diversity report since splitting from eBay in 2015, and shows real gains in the representation of women in the leadership ranks: The number of women at the vice president level increased by 20% in the past year, and now 25% of technical roles are held by women. The number of black employees remained the same, though the representation of Latin, Asian, and “other” employees increased by 1%. The big news is at the board level, however.Fortune

Opinion: What if Puerto Rico were Iowa?
Paul Krugman turns the table in this opinion piece, asking how the administration would respond if Iowa had been ravaged by a national disaster, not a faraway island filled with brown-skinned people with no political clout. “[T]he Trump administration seems increasingly to see this tragedy as a public relations issue, something to be spun — partly by blaming the victims — rather than as an urgent problem to be solved,” he writes. “Puerto Ricans would doubtless be getting better treatment if they were all of, say, Norwegian descent.”
New York Times

Did Facebook’s blind spots lead to Russian interference and abuse on the platform?
Early Facebook investor Roger McNamee asked company founder Mark Zuckerberg to “come clean” about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election in a  USA Today op-ed this week. But in follow-up remarks on CNBC, McNamee identifies the bigger problem at work. "I am quite certain that it never occurred to Facebook that a foreign country was going to come in and mess with our elections," McNamee said. "But the reality is that they also had a business model that said, 'It's not our responsibility what people do on the platform.' And I think that was wrong."

Welcome to the minority recruitment industry
According to this piece from Quartz, the diversity movement in tech had a birthday yesterday. Four years ago, Tracy Chou, an engineer at Pinterest, published a post on Medium, that revealed the company’s poor track record in recruiting and retaining women engineers. The next year, tech giants Google, Facebook and Apple followed suit. Savvy people like Ryan Williams, a co-founder of Jopwell, a minority talent matchmaking platform, saw an opportunity. “We’re at the tip of the iceberg here, in terms of what companies are going to be (spending),” he says of mulit-cultural recruitment. While Fortune 500 companies spend some $16 billion annually on hiring, he says that only about $2.5 million of that is earmarked for diversity. No place to go but up?

The Woke Leader

Come to find out, the science around race is complicated
We really know very little about how genes influence skin pigmentation, even though skin color is the most easily identifiable and divisive characteristic humans have. Part of the problem is that most genetic information about race comes from studying people of European descent. Crazy, I know. This study of 1,570 volunteers from 10 ethnic groups in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Botswana, hopes to redress that. And guess what? “Africa is not some homogenous place where everyone has dark skin,” the lead researcher reports. “There’s huge variation.” Turns out “light skin” genetic traits are not unique to Europeans. In addition to discrediting the biological construct of race, the findings also cast doubt on using single genetic variants in other ways — like using DNA to predict the skin color of a crime suspect.  A fascinating read.
The Atlantic

Nikole Hannah-Jones confronts the myths of segregation
In this revealing Q&A with CityLab, the newly minted MacArthur winner talks about how her work evolved and what is next for her. “My work strives to disprove that and show that while clearly there is a legacy, there is also ongoing discrimination. There are policymakers who are making decisions right now that are maintaining segregation.” Schools, in particular, are a problem. “[W]e’ve had a system where black children are not receiving an education writ large that would allow them to compete with white children for the best jobs,” she says. “That is how it was designed. That continues to be so.”

Native American organizations that should be on your radar
Here is a list of twenty-one organizations that focus on the Native American community. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to diversify their supplier and vendor network, identify experts for panels and conferences, or to better understand the varied experiences of indigenous people around the country. It was curated by Diversity Best Practices, a division of Working Mother Media
Diversity Best Practices


I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them. I am a better mother for it. The woman I am because I get to run Shondaland, because I get to write all day, because I get to spend my days making things up, that woman is a better person — and a better mother. Because that woman is happy. That woman is fulfilled. That woman is whole.
—Shonda Rhimes.