Can Virtual Reality Help Make Workplaces More Inclusive?: The Broadsheet

October 29, 2019, 11:41 AM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! California state lawmaker Christy Smith will run for Katie Hill’s seat in Congress, Suzy Batiz built an empire out of Poo-Pourri, and diversity and inclusion training goes high tech. Have a terrific Tuesday. 


- Virtual reality = real empathy. To understand someone else's experience, it helps to try to see the world through her or his eyes. We usually mean that in a metaphorical sense, of course—but what if it could be a bit more literal?

That's the idea behind a new virtual reality-enhanced diversity and inclusion training being developed by leadership consulting firm DDI. The technology helps users experience the specific slights that will be familiar to some of you reading this: being talked over in a meeting, finding yourself the sole person of your gender and/or race in the room, or watching as key decisions are made at meetings or lunches you weren't invited to. 

Donning the VR headset and living through those experiences is intense, Mina Sipe, who developed the simulation, tells Emma. Participants have cried, started sweating, or almost flipped the table—a far cry from the zoned-out reaction prompted by so many corporate D&I training videos. It's not necessarily pleasant, but certainly worth the fleeting discomfort to managers who might not otherwise understand what their reports are facing every single day. 

If you'd like to learn more, click through and check out the Fortune video, where Emma takes the training for a spin.

Kristen Bellstrom


- Filling the seat. After Rep. Katie Hill's resignation from Congress, California state lawmaker Christy Smith announced she would run for Hill's seat. Smith is the first Democrat to declare for the seat, which Hill flipped from Republican control in 2018. The Hill

- Smells like success. Suzy Batiz built an empire out of Poo-Pourri, the bathroom spray. In the words of The New Yorker, "there are many remarkable things about this story: that a toilet spray could make someone as rich as Reese Witherspoon, with whom Batiz is tied on the Forbes [richest] list, that Batiz, who has no background in consumer goods, created not just a successful product but also an entirely new product category ... [and] that Batiz no longer sees herself as a mere businesswoman, but as a spiritual explorer whose medium just happens to be business." The New Yorker

- Peril at the ECB. As Christine Lagarde takes the reins at the European Central Bank, she faces "peril on all sides:" "bureaucracy, nationalism, populism, and just plain parsimony." Bloomberg

- Women of impact. The November issue of National Geographic launches a year-long project documenting how women have changed—and are changing—the world: National Geographic

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: New Relic’s Erica Schultz joins Confluent as president of field operations. 


- Election Day. Sophie Wilmès was named the head of Belgium's next caretaker (or temporary) government, making her the country's first female prime minister in its 189-year history. In Argentina, controversial former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is back in office, this time as vice president.

- Labor harassment. J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, is accused of a pattern of sexual harassment of both men and women—behavior that allegedly included licking employees' ears. Cox is the highest-profile labor leader to be accused of harassment; he is taking a leave of absence but denies the allegations. Bloomberg

- If NBC is doing it... As NBC News employees are released from their nondisclosure agreements amid reports of sexual harassment and the suppression of reporting about sexual harassment within the division, former Fox News employees are demanding to be released from their own. Gretchen Carlson is among the group. Vanity Fair

Today's Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe. Share it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


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"We joked about how much our wives are loved more than we are now."

-John Legend on a conversation with President Obama about Chrissy Teigen and Michelle Obama. Teigen and Legend are jointly profiled by Vanity Fair

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