Christina Vercelletto, CNN Underscored Corporations from nearly every sector of the American economy say Black lives matter. Now Black workers are seizing the moment to speak out on racism. Investis Digital, a leading global digital communications company, has been named one of the 2020 azcentral Top Companies to Work for in Arizona. The recognition highlights the best companies across the state as voted by their employees. This is the second consecutive year Investis Digital has earned The pandemic has accelerated and worsened equity gaps in higher education and its connection to work, according to new data, which may also show paths to improving this connection.
Many sleepaway and day camps have canceled their programs this summer. That’s a bummer for kids and a problem for some parents. Many moms and dads of younger kids, even if still working at home, were relying on camp as child care. “I can attest that these last few months have been a steep learning curve for all parents, myself included,” says Tim Allen, CEO of Care.com.
The confidence we’ve gained in managing the challenges and spending more time with our kids will hopefully pay off. “That knowledge will help parents get through the summer, despite the uncertainty. A wide array of online summer programming is available to kids,” Allen says.
With so many options, how do you make the best choice? “Finding appropriate virtual activities is in some ways similar to choosing traditional programs,” says Dana Stahl, a learning specialist and founder of Educational Alternatives in Katonah, New York. You need to consider your children’s interests and their capacity for sustained attention, she says. “Some children learn best by watching, some by listening, and others by active participation.”
From online summer camps to camps-in-a-box to good old hands-on camp activities, consider this your guide to summer camp salvation.
No matter how many things you sign the kids up for via mail or online, they’ll need some time on their own — or with you. Creativity and laughter can take over your home during offline hours with these recommendations.
Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course for Kids ($189.98, originally $229.99; amazon.com)
Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course for Kids
Release their inner warrior with this American Ninja Warrior Competition kit. It comes with a 65-foot slackline where you can hang rings, ladders and more that can provide endless possibilities. It’s approved for ages 6 and up, so the whole family can get in on the fun.
Made by Me Mix & Mold Stepping Stones ($15.17; amazon.com)
Made by Me Mix & Mold Stepping Stones
What’s camp without crafts? The finished products of this kit will add a touch of color and cheer to your yard.
Jasonwell Sprinkle & Splash Play Mat 68″ Sprinkler ($25.99; amazon.com)
Jasonwell Sprinkle & Splash Play Mat 68″ Sprinkler
This awesome backyard addition is a summer camp classic. There’s nothing better than splashing around on a hot summer day.
SUNCOO Running Shooting Targets ($29.99, originally $39.99; amazon.com)
SUNCOO Running Shooting Targets
Time to stretch your legs and move around by testing your aim at these moving targets. In case you’re not already stocked up on blasters, try snagging a couple of these Nerf N-Strike Elite Triad EX-3 ($4.99; target.com) for target practice.
Klutz Friendship Bracelets Craft Kit ($17.68; amazon.com)
Klutz Friendship Bracelets Craft Kit
Another summer camp classic craft activity is making friendship bracelets to hand out to all of your new besties before heading back to school in the fall. Kids can make these for everyone in the house or mail them out to friends, cousins or anyone else (Grandma?) who’s on their minds.
Discovery Kids Planetarium Projector ($26.16, originally $31.99; amazon.com)
Discovery Kids Planetarium Projector
Children can explore the marvels of our universe during a “camp out” in your living room.
Max Liquidator 6-Pack Water Blaster Set ($16.81, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
Don’t have room for a water slide? Just fill up a bucket with water and hand these out to the kids for endless water fun.
Magformers Basic Plus ($14.97, originally $24.99; amazon.com)
Preschoolers can learn to build using combine, roll and pull-up techniques and see what their imaginations can create.
Toysmith Beetle & Bee Build A Bird Buffet ($14.99; amazon.com)
Toysmith Beetle & Bee Build A Bird Buffet
Get them in touch with nature, and their own craftiness, with this kit, which comes with everything they’ll need to build a bird feeder, from precut wood to paint — no nails required.
Green Science Solar Rover ($18.81, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
Green Science Solar Rover
This kit contains everything needed to recycle a soda can into a solar-powered vehicle.
Moody Goat 21-Piece Outdoor Explorer Gear Deluxe Play Set for Kids ($32.95; amazon.com)
Moody Goat 21-Piece Outdoor Explorer Gear Deluxe Play Set for Kids
Kids 5 years old and up will have fun observing nature up close with this kit that’s loaded with the tools they’ll need to explore, analyze and remember their discoveries, including magnifiers, nets, tools, and even a hat and vest so they can
RockJam 54-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard ($72.49; amazon.com)
RockJam 54-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard
How about an end-of-summer talent show? We’ve surely all learned a few new tricks this season. This keyboard will teach them how to play music and read music without needing to leave the house to see a teacher IRL.
Camp KiwiCo (free for online camp content, crates starting at $24.95; kiwico.com)
Subscription boxes that appeal to all ages are slim pickings. That’s why we fell for Camp KiwiCo, which has set up a weekly camp shipment service for all those preschool through high school tinkerers and makers. Every day is structured around a theme, accompanied either by a crate or free videos, DIY and downloadable printables or both. Each themed camp week covers five days of four hours’ worth of fun that you can mix and match. The program launches on June 22 and will run throughout the summer.
Usit Virtual Summer ($150 for the first week, $90 for each following week; virtual.usit.care)
This is another one that doesn’t fit neatly into an age bracket, because it appeals to kids ages 3 through 13. Sessions are conducted by college students in small groups of five kids each and start at $150 for the first week and $90 for each additional week. Subjects include “Paint like Picasso,” “Self care and meditation” and TikTok, and even cover things like acting, digital arts and entrepreneurialism.
These smart activities with an eye toward the first day of kindergarten (yay!) are best enjoyed with a parent. That means squeezing in extra bonding time whenever you can find it.
Little Passports Early Explorers ($19.95/month for 12 months; littlepassports.com)
Little Passports Early Explorers
This year, summer camp is wherever you are. Camp-in-a-box services have stepped up to help families make the most of the season. One of our favorites is Early Explorers by Little Passports, because it’s focused on global adventures that get kids virtually exploring the world. Each “traveler’s kit” comes packaged in an adorable suitcase. The activities inside will have children getting a taste of a faraway place.
The Preschool Box ($29.16 per child, per month; cratejoy.com)
This monthly kit is stuffed with activities, games, stickers and books specifically geared to helping children have some fun while getting prepared for kindergarten. A parent guide is also included, so you know exactly how to help your child along.
Free camp resources for preschool kids
Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium (free; youtube.com)
Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium
Get crafty with WOW’s summer Creature Crafting series. It teaches the little ones and their grown-ups how to conjure up all kinds of DIY goodness. Like what? Coffee filter jellyfish, bird feeders and slithery snake bracelets, for starters.
Tutor Time Learning at Home (free; learningcaregroup.com)
Tutor Time Learning at Home
This web hub is packed with continually updated activities for children as young as 2, with their grown-up. Among the offerings are arts and crafts, music, story-based learning and positive behavior reinforcement.
Sesame Street (free; sesamestreet.org)
The iconic preschool program has launched the Caring for Each Other platform, full of interactive games, lessons and videos. The goal is to put your child more at ease with the changes in daily life caused by covid-19 while keeping the fun and learning going.
San Diego Zoo (free; kids.sandiegozoo.org)
Children this age seem to adore animals universally. This kid-centric site of the world-famous zoo is loaded with resources. Think webcams (African penguins visiting the orangutans! Twin lemurs!), preschooler-friendly curriculums, activities and games. Although this resource is free, the zoo is in dire need of donations from families with the means to contribute.
Hello Bello (free; youtube.com)
Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s family brand has launched Camp Hello Bello to help keep families busy during this turbulent time. “Camp counselors” — some moms and dads across the country who lost their jobs due to the pandemic — lead storytimes, singalongs, cooking classes, workouts, art projects and more for your minis.
NatGeo@Home (free; nationalgeographic.com)
The NatGeo@Home hub will be updated regularly through the summer with engaging ways for families to hold “camp” at home. One example? A fun neighborhood safari. What we love about this option is how it breaks activities out by how much time you have. Half an hour? Make yogurt. Only five minutes? Get an update on how the nearly extinct black rhinos are holding up.
Many of the coolest virtual fun sessions are adaptable to a wide range of ages. Younger kids can easily tackle them with a little guidance here and there from a parent, while those on the older end can direct their adventures on their own.
Bitsbox ($29.95/month; amazon.com)
Aspiring app developers can start honing their craft with the targeted projects supplied by this popular service. From games to e-cards to simulations, the finished work can be run on smartphones and tablets. Unlimited email help is included with your subscription (for the parents as well as the kids, in case coding is new to you too.) The first box is discounted at $28.45 and additional boxes are automatically charged at $29.95.
Raddish ($24/month; amazon.com)
Does your kiddo’s interest seem to be piqued by what goes on in the kitchen? Then ordering up a steady stream of easy-peasy, yummy cooking projects may be just the ticket to summer fun. Each delivery will have a surprise theme — imagination, global cuisine, the season’s bounty, holiday goodness or one of many others. The themes never repeat. The first box is $16.80 and additional boxes are automatically charged at $24 per month.
YMCA (Pricing based on program specifics; ymca.net)
For decades, legions of kids have spent summer at the Y. This year, many branches across the country have come up with online substitutes. Check with the ones in your area to learn about virtual offerings. One example: the YMCA of Youngstown, Ohio. Parents pick up a crate of supplies for the week on Sunday, and kids log on for three to four hours a day to “join” their camp counselor in each day’s activities.
Sittercity (starting at $35/month; family.sittercity.com)
Online babysitting is catching on with parents who don’t necessarily want to have their kid occupied at a screen for long stretches, but, of course, still need to get stuff done. A virtual sitter will engage your child in games and stories, typically for one to two hours. The sweet spot for virtual babysitting is ages 6 to 9. In addition to the monthly membership fees, you will need to negotiate the hourly sitting rate with your particular sitter. If you are affected by covid-19, however, Sittercity is currently offering 50% off its membership fees.
Kidz N Art ($19.99/four classes plus materials; kidznart.com)
This virtual paint camp teaches color theory, brush stroke technique and tips for painting with acrylics, which is what kids generally start out with in school art classes — after watercolors and tempera, of course. Note: There is a discounted rate currently in effect.
Digital Film and Video Production eLive Camp ($250/five half-days; care.com)
Digital Film and Video Production eLive Camp
Does your kid seem intrigued by making videos or movies? This camp might be the first step in becoming an auteur. Students will be schooled in production and editing methods, basic sound design and color correction.
Shakespeare Superheroes ($225/week; atlantashakespeare.org)
Your budding drama king or queen can get a taste of being on stage without the actual stage. By way of Zoom, Flip Grid, YouTube and Google Drive, thespian instructors guide and inspire campers with videos, one-on-one instruction, collaborative online experiences and self-guided activities. Campers will be mailed a package of supplies and Bard swag.
Free camp resources for elementary and middle school kids
Natural History Museum of Utah (free; nhmu.utah.edu)
Natural History Museum of Utah
The museum’s Research Quest is a live program led by scientists who are experts in their fields. Older elementary and middle school students participate in answering real-life scientific research questions across various fields, such as paleontology, biodiversity and ecology. Classes are hosted each weekday at 9:30 a.m. MT. Kids who miss a class can access it later on demand. Also, check out Summer@Home, which will get the kids outside with thematic three-day sessions offered via Zoom and age-appropriate assignments for every “camper” between virtual meetups. To participate in the Summer@Home camp programs, it will cost $25 to $60 per three-week session.
Kahoot! (free; kahoot.com)
With educational content geared to a wide range of ages, Kahoot! relies on kids’ competitive nature to make the learning fun. Interactive game shows, videoconferencing with other players and games that tune themselves to your kid’s pace go a long way toward making the lessons stick. In addition to the free resource, select apps are available for purchase.
NOAA Ocean Sanctuaries (free; sanctuaries.noaa.gov)
Plunge into the sea as you make your way through some of the underwater world’s most hidden spots. Tour the depths online through 360-degree video.
National Park Exploration (free; artsandculture.google.com)
National Park Exploration
Through guided, interactive videos, kids can take a virtual journey through and learn about some of the world’s most stunning national parks.
Hogwarts Digital Escape Room (free; docs.google.com)
Hogwarts Digital Escape Room
Escape rooms have become crazy popular entertainment venues over the last few years. Although the real ones are closed, your young Harry Potter fans can get the experience on this platform. They’ll need to use logic, common sense, and their knowledge of the Wizarding World to make it out.
NFL Inspire Change (free; nfl.com)
Multiple NFL teams have stepped up to provide educational resources on their websites to help their young fans learn in a fun way, while continuing to keep a sense of team pride. Teams that are offering these resources include the Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
Custer State Park, South Dakota (free; facebook.com)
Custer State Park, South Dakota
Children can embark on a weekly virtual field trip on Facebook Live with the park’s interpretive program manager. They’ll see and learn about prairie dogs, buffalo and more wildlife and natural wonders of the Great Plains.
Austin Adventures (free; austinadventures.com)
These popular Virtual Adventures for Kids continue all summer long. By way of Zoom webinars, kids can “visit” amazing destinations all over the globe like Peru, the Grand Canyon, the Netherlands and Yellowstone National Park. Some of the webinars will add an instructional component to the outdoor fun and travel content, like a lesson in basic bike repair.
Summer jobs and driver’s ed, two traditional June-through-August pursuits of teens, are going to be in short supply this year. But they can fill the time with these rewarding online pursuits, honing college-readiness skills.
Mel Science ($34.90/month; melscience.com)
This subscription service ships out chemistry-centric kits that are a perfect fit for younger teens who are into experimentation. The experiments in the kits are fresh and sophisticated, yet totally doable and intriguing. Try out “Hot Ice,” “Martian Rust,” “Galaxy in a Bottle” and “Tin Hedgehog.” The first experiments — you get two or three a month — come with a VR headset specifically designed to maximize the experience.
Maker Crate by KiwiCo (starting at $24.95/month; kiwico.com)
This crate from KiwiCo helps your budding artists learn about different methods of making things to help their creative visions become reality. From macrame to clay, these kits will build a teen’s confidence as an artist and designer across a variety of mediums.
Writopia Lab (starting at $595/week; writopialab.org)
Teens with something to say (isn’t that all of them?) can hone their voices and craft in these workshops. Aside from traditional writing formats, class options include playwriting, screenplay drafting and family memoir creation. A sliding fee scale is available for unique cases.
ID Tech (starting at $399/week for half days; idtech.com)
Video game development, coding, AI and other cutting-edge fields are made available to your teen through this online platform. Interaction and team-building with other teens is a big part of the experience. The site is offering this special discounted rate while social distancing is in effect, so it’s a great time to take advantage if it’s within your budget.
Fashion Institute of Technology ($530/11-day course; fitnyc.edu)
Fashion Institute of Technology Summer High School Workshops
New York’s FIT is offering its summer high school workshops remotely. And the world-renowned college is about much more than fashion. Creative teens can also delve into photography, public relations, comic book character creation, jewelry manufacturing and interior design.
Summer Camp Online (around $100 per course; summercamponline.com)
The live virtual courses will engage teens in an amazing variety of pursuits. A smattering of the options: cooking, Zumba, video game design, martial arts, college admission test prep, fabric painting, amusement park science and collage with found objects. With advance planning, you can arrange for all of your kid’s pals to take a private class together.
Free camp resources for teens
Breakthrough Junior Challenge (free; breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org)
Breakthrough Junior Challenge
Got a teen whose favorite classes have always been science? Check out this video contest platform. The mission? Create a three-minute work that explains the science of pandemics in a compelling, accessible way. The winner gets a $250,000 college scholarship. Even if your teen doesn’t snag the big prize, the resultant video will still be great for college portfolios.
The Metropolitan Opera Global Summer Camp (free; metopera.org)
New York City’s world-famous Met Opera recently concluded their Free Student Streaming Initiative to make room for a new summer camp program. Met Opera Global Summer Camp will be an eight-week online summer camp that allows students in grades 3 through 12 to continue music learning and exploration through some of the most beloved and fascinating operas of all time. The camp runs from June 15 to August 7 and is completely free.
If you’re still looking for more summer activities inspiration, check out our guides to virtual field trips and summer fun.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.
Author: Christina Vercelletto
George Floyd protests lead to reckoning as Black employees speak out on racism and discrimination in the workplace
Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook posted a video on Twitter announcing a $100-million initiative to fight racism and break down barriers to opportunity, including inside his own company.
Tanya Faison, who is Black and for five years worked in technical support at Apple, says she’s skeptical of these expressions of solidarity from corporations that for years stayed silent on systemic racism while perpetuating racial inequality by failing to hire, promote or fairly pay Black people and people of color.
“It’s very nice that he’s decided to take this moment to start focusing on Black folks, when he is in a company with Black employees who are not being taken care of,” Faison said of Cook.
From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, corporations from nearly every sector of the American economy have taken to social media proclaiming their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and condemning police killings as protests over the death of George Floyd still flood American streets.
Seizing an opportunity to be heard, Black employees are responding on social media with painful stories of workplace racism they say they were too fearful to discuss before. The wave of firsthand accounts and activism has led to resignations, drawing parallels to the #MeToo movement.
“We need more than performative, symbolic or superficial statements. We need action,” says Aerica Shimizu Banks, one of two former Black employees who went public this week with charges of racial discrimination against social media service Pinterest. Pinterest denies the charges.
“I hope companies are recognizing that your employees will not stay silent to racism, sexism and discrimination anymore,” Banks said.
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The voices of Black workers are being amplified by colleagues of all races, turning up the pressure on employers to make real change in hopes this moment could mark a turning point for racial equity in the American workplace.
At Adidas, dozens stopped working to attend protests outside the company’s North American headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Hundreds of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout to protest CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to take down inflammatory posts by President Trump.
Driving this wellspring of employee activism: pledges by businesses large and small which in the past have done little to balance the economic scales for Black workers or to eradicate toxic work environments.
In recent weeks, Facebook and Citibank chimed in, as did Nike and the NFL. Bank of America said it would spend $1 billion over four years to address racial and economic inequality. Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, called for racial equality in the U.S. in an open letter to federal, state and local officials, saying he would work on equitable justice as part of a new Business Roundtable, a committee of large-company CEOs.
Google’s YouTube video service said it will funnel $100 million into a fund for Black content creators. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, made Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in America, an official paid holiday at both companies. L’Oreal SA on June 9 rehired Munroe Bergdorf, a Black transgender model it fired in 2017.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, even took a knee for a photograph with staff from one of the bank’s branches, a nod to former quarterback Colin Kaepernick who was blacklisted from the NFL for protesting the police killings of African Americans.
Yet African Americans are woefully underrepresented in the echelons of corporate America where the Fortune 500 has just four Black CEOs and senior leadership teams are still made up entirely of white men. And the coronavirus pandemic has only deepened inequalities in the business world, disproportionately claiming the lives and livelihoods of African Americans.
The statistics are sobering. Black workers are paid less than white workers, even in high-wage positions. Research shows that the black-white wage gap has been widening for decades, even during periods of economic expansion. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the overall average wage for black workers in 2019 was $21.05. For white workers, it was $28.66. As a result, in the U.S., Black households have one-tenth the wealth of a typical white household, according to Federal Reserve data.
Being called out are companies publicly throwing their support behind the Black Lives Matter movement while continuing the status quo.
On Twitter, Amazon called for an end to “the inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people” in the U.S. Its CEO Jeff Bezos posted on Instagram an email from a customer criticizing the Black Lives Matter banner on Amazon’s home page, and responded that this was the kind of customer he was “happy to lose.”
At the same time, the company has been criticized for relegating workers, many of them African American, to low pay and harsh working conditions. In March, it fired a Black warehouse employee who was advocating for safer conditions during the pandemic. Amazon said the worker violated its social distancing policy.
The Plug, an online news service created by journalist and entrepreneur Sherrell Dorsey to cover Black innovation in the tech world, is pushing for accountability with a spreadsheet which tracks the recent statements by tech companies and pairs it with information on the demographics of these companies, including the dearth of Black people in leadership and technical roles.
Online racial justice organization Color of Change has launched a campaign to urge corporations including Amazon, Adidas, Nike and Target to move #BeyondTheStatement.
“I have seen an outpouring of companies saying Black lives matter,” Color of Change’s president Rashad Robinson told USA TODAY. “I want them to actually make Black lives matter through their policies and their practices.”
He says all of these gestures are hollow unless corporations back up statements with concrete plans to close racial pay gaps, hire and promote more Black employees and ensure more wealth flows into Black communities.
“What I am seeing across the board is not a full recognition from corporate America about all the ways they have written the rules and all the ways they benefit from the rules that fuel racial discrimination and racial injustice in this country,” Robinson says. “Now is not the time simply for statements of support that don’t actually come with real structural change. Now is the time to actually change rules and change behavior.”
The race problem in the tech industry was thrust into the national conversation in 2014 when companies from Facebook to Google disclosed for the first time how few women and people of color they employ. The companies pledged to make their workforces less homogeneous.
The paucity of underrepresented minorities in an industry increasingly dominating the U.S. economy drew sharp scrutiny from company shareholders and Washington lawmakers. Yet hundreds of millions, if not billions, in diversity spending later, very little has changed.
After the 2016 presidential election, corporations pulled back on their commitments to diversify their workforces, says Karla Monterroso, CEO of Code2040, an organization that advocates for proportional representation of Black and Latinx leaders in the tech industry as a way of diversifying high-wage work in America.
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“A lot of different corporations were making real deal investments in this stuff. Once the election happened, and the president won, you saw a huge backtrack from those investments,” Monterroso says.
“The social capital around this disappeared and the capital capital around this disappeared. There was a lot of fear. I had people, directly and indirectly, tell me that they were afraid to make these investments and be public about their beliefs because it would put them in the crosshairs of a president with an itchy Twitter finger.”
Undeterred, employees at companies from Facebook to Google have come forward with personal stories of racism and discrimination inside their companies.
On June 2, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann wrote a public post about the changes the company planned to make to elevate racial justice content on the social media service and increase the diversity at the company, where 3.7% of employees are Black, 2.8% of managers and none of the senior leadership is Black, according to the company’s 2018 federal filing.
“With everything we do, we will make it clear that our Black employees matter, Black Pinners and creators matter, and Black Lives Matter,” Silbermann wrote on June 2.
Quietly, less than a week earlier, Banks and Ifeoma Ozoma, two Black employees in prominent public policy positions, left the company. On Monday, they went public about the racial discrimination they said they faced at Pinterest.
Ozoma told USA TODAY she wanted people to know that “in this moment when Pinterest is claiming to care about Black employees and Black lives, that just a few weeks ago, when I was still there, that was not the case for me at all.”
Despite driving high-profile initiatives for Pinterest such as the decision to stop promoting former Southern slave plantations as wedding venues or to steer searches for vaccine-related information to public health groups, Ozoma says she was not paid fairly. When a white male colleague, upset with her work on policy issues, shared sensitive personal information about her in “just about every dark corner of the internet,” she says she was forced to hire a company to monitor online information and threats.
Banks told USA TODAY she almost immediately regretted the decision to join Pinterest to head up its Washington, D.C. office, in May 2019 and barely lasted a year in the role.
Banks, who is African American and Japanese, says she faced disparaging remarks about her ethnicity from her manager. Even after she left the company, she says her sponsorship of Black organizations and businesses was scrutinized.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Pinterest said it conducted a “thorough investigation” into the allegations. “We’re confident both employees were treated fairly,” the company said.
Color of Change is launching a petition to secure back pay for Ozoma and Banks.
“The retaliation these women experienced underscores the risk Black workers in Silicon Valley endure every day for speaking out against racism and discrimination,” Color of Change campaign director Jade Magnus Ogunnaike said in a statement. “To show a serious commitment to racial justice, the company should use this opportunity to change their hostile culture for Black workers and set an example for the tech industry.”
Robinson says he’s thrilled to see employees “speaking out and pushing back.”
“We are hearing from employees in very powerful ways,” he says, “and that’s important.”
One of those employees is Faison, the Black Lives Matter activist. The job at Apple in Elk Grove, California, paid well, came with good benefits and gave her time to devote to her Black Lives Matter activism in the Sacramento area.
But there was only one Black supervisor and no managers of color in her office, she says. And, even as coworkers were encouraged to openly embrace gay rights, Faison says it was made clear to her that, if she wanted to get promoted, she would have to keep quiet about her fight against police killings.
Faison says she held her tongue, even when customers she was helping with their iPhone or Mac problems made racist comments or used the N-word, presuming she was white. But holding in her feelings for a paycheck left Faison angry and depleted by the end of the day.
“I couldn’t even go into diversity and inclusion meetings and talk about the work or what’s going on and how it is impacting us,” she says.
Then in February 2018, Apple announced that Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors had been invited to speak at Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters. Faison pushed her ergonomically adjusted chair from her desk and, in the middle of her shift, stood next to her car trying to make sense of it.
“It really upset me because, for years, I was holding my breath. For years, I was tiptoeing around Apple about my work,” she says. “I had been hiding everything, and that wasn’t acceptable.”
A month later, when 22-year-old Stephon Clark was killed by two police officers in his grandmother’s backyard, drawing national scrutiny of police shootings and discriminatory policing of Black neighborhoods, Faison took a leave of absence and then another to organize a wave of protests in Sacramento. Then she quit. She says Apple tried to convince her to stay on, but she couldn’t.
“I couldn’t hold the weight of the work and also the weight of what was happening in the streets anymore,” Faison says. “I had to go.”
And, even though she needs a job, Faison says she’d never go back.
Apple’s $100 million pledge, its first directed to the Black community, pales next to its investments in clean energy, manufacturing jobs and housing. It’s also a drop in an overflowing financial bucket. The world’s most valuable company made a profit of $55 billion on revenue of $260 billion last year.
And Apple has made slow and halting progress in diversifying the company. According to a 2018 filing with the federal government, Apple has one Black executive out of a total of 123, less than 1%, and 284 Black managers out of a total of 9,878, less than 3%. Nine percent of its U.S. workforce is Black.
“Black employees are not being treated with dignity. They’re not being treated fairly. They’re not being promoted fairly. There’s not a lot of Black leadership within the company,” Faison says. “And there were not a lot of places for us to go to express that we were not being treated the way that we should be.”
Reached for comment, Apple said it believes in treating everyone with dignity and respect and that it applies those values in all aspects of its business.
Investis Digital Recognized as a 2020 Top Company to Work for in Arizona
Investis Digital Earns Repeat Honor
PHOENIX, June 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Investis Digital, a leading global digital communications company, has been named one of the 2020 azcentral Top Companies to Work for in Arizona. The recognition highlights the best companies across the state as voted by their employees. This is the second consecutive year Investis Digital has earned the honor.
Don Scales, Global CEO of Investis Digital, said, “I’m proud of our people and honored that Investis Digital has achieved this recognition. Our Phoenix office has grown because our clients relationships have grown. In addition, in 2019, we acquired Vertical Measures. I’m pleased that after fully integrating our teams, our employees have rallied around a common purpose and values.”
This highly selective list is the result of a comprehensive internal Employee Engagement and Satisfaction Survey, which measures culture, work environment, leadership and employee pride and satisfaction, evaluations of workplace practices, policies, perks and demographics.
Collin Cornwell, Managing Director, Phoenix, said, “Being named a Top Company to Work for in Arizona reflects how our Phoenix office has grown through diversity, collaboration and passion, all of which are key to our success going forward. In 2020 we’re succeeding by working together both in person and virtually. I am proud of our team.”
The 100 “Top Companies” was published in a special supplement in the June 14, 2020, issue of The Arizona Republic. The names of those honored is also available as online at AZcentral.com and www.BestCompaniesAZ.com.
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The pandemic has worsened equity gaps in higher education and work
The pandemic has accelerated and worsened equity gaps in higher education and its connection to work, according to new data, which may also show paths to improving this connection.
Even before the pandemic, higher education faced growing scrutiny about its role in contributing to severe societal equity gaps that afflict black and Latino Americans, as well as Native Americans and other historically underserved groups.
But that pressure is certain to increase amid what Richard V. Reeves, a writer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, calls an extraordinary “collision of crises” that has further exposed multiple inequities and inequalities.
Those widening chasms include the pandemic’s impact on the labor market. Black and Latino workers are more likely to have lost their jobs, while white and wealthier Americans are much more likely to be able to work from home and to not be deemed essential, front-line workers, who are more likely to be exposed to the virus, said Reeves during a webcast hosted by Jobs for the Future last week.
Likewise, the severe wealth gap means people of color are much less able to cope with the loss of a job or wages. And inequity in society has contributed to higher COVID-19 mortality rates among black and Latino Americans, said Reeves, due to poverty’s relative impact on their health and the enhanced risks of coming down with COVID-19 on the job or on public transportation.
“The whole U.S. political economy was like a giant pre-existing condition,” Reeves said. “And COVID came along and exposed it all.”
None of the pandemic’s disproportionate impacts on postsecondary education and training should be a surprise, said a wide range of experts. But the crises have accelerated those problems while also worsening them.
Podcast Episode on Equity Gaps
THE KEY with Inside Higher Ed podcast explores survey findings by the Strada Education Network that black and Latino Americans are more likely to have been laid off during the pandemic, and to have changed their postsecondary education plans. It features interviews with Lorelle Espinosa, vice president for research at the American Council on Education, and Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.
“The toll of this pandemic is, in a word, devastating,” John King Jr., president and CEO of the Education Trust and a former U.S. secretary of education during the Obama administration, said during a call with reporters in late May. “It’s eroding students’ academic success, their emotional well-being and their personal finances.”
That impact has been felt most profoundly by students of color. And some initial data suggest that lower-income students and those from minority groups may leave higher education, perhaps permanently.
Lorelle Espinosa, vice president for research at the American Council on Education, cited growing evidence that underserved student groups may be falling away from higher education amid the pandemic, recession and national racial crisis. And Espinosa said students who stick around may take on more debt.
“I’m really worried that those students won’t come back at all, or they might come back much later,” she said. “Even if they stay, the educational experience may be really disruptive and misaligned to their learning needs.”
When colleges around the country closed campuses and pivoted to online learning in mid-March, leadership at the Strada Education Network felt that the country was on “wartime footing,” said Dave Clayton, senior vice president of the nonprofit corporation’s Center for Consumer Insights.
Strada quickly decided to shift its polling and survey efforts to monitor the pandemic’s impact on American’s lives, work and needs for education and training.
The former student loan guarantee agency USA Funds became Strada in 2017 after a multiyear restructuring. The group features an unusually arrayed network of affiliates focused on connections between education and work.
Strada for years had teamed up with Gallup on a large polling data set of consumer perspectives on the value of education to people’s careers and lives. By late March, however, as unprecedented disruptions roiled higher education and the economy, Strada’s Consumer Insights had revamped its survey approach to create the Public Viewpoint poll, which focuses on COVID-19 and its impact on education and work.
(Note: Inside Higher Ed and Strada Education Network partner on Public Viewpoint. Strada provides funding to Inside Higher Ed to support its coverage of the polling data and related workforce issues. Inside Higher Ed maintains editorial independence and full discretion over its coverage.)
The nationally representative survey was in the field by March 25 and received more than 10,000 responses by May 28. Strada asked respondents about their job security, income and anxiety. The poll, which began on a weekly basis and has since moved to every other week, also includes questions about future education plans.
“Immediately it was clear that leaders who were going to be serving people needed more information,” Clayton said. “Americans need their leaders to understand their circumstances.”
The survey quickly identified areas where the pandemic has exacerbated inequity in work and postsecondary education.
Results released on June 10, for example, found that roughly one-quarter of black Americans (23 percent) and Latinos (24 percent) have been laid off, higher shares than white (15 percent) and Asian Americans (13 percent). Black and Latino respondents also were likelier to report starting new full- or part-time jobs in the past month, Strada found.
Most respondents are anxious about their employment, with more than half reporting worries about losing their job during each of the 10 weeks of polling — a high of 68 percent said so in results released April 1. Given the nation’s wealth gap, with research showing that an unexpected cost of $500 or less can severely derail large percentages of black and Latino families, reduced hours or a layoff can be catastrophic.
“How are people going to manage through this?” Clayton said.
The survey includes some forward-looking elements, with an eye toward changing employment opportunities (and barriers). It looks at the integration of postsecondary education and training with the job market, to help state policy makers and workforce development officials focus on “preparation to get back to work,” said Clayton.
That approach is both useful and, to some degree, uplifting, said Jane Oates, president of WorkingNation and a former official in the U.S. Department of Labor during the Obama administration.
Oates said that’s because colleges and employers can draw from the data to help design pathways for low-income people back into the workforce during a recovery, ideally with credentials that lead to both a well-paying job and, eventually, to a college degree.
“How do we make sure that this temporary shift doesn’t become a brick wall?” she said.
Exodus of Low-Income Students?
In a more immediate sense, with a recovery still likely months or years away, the Strada data build on other indicators that students, particularly those from low-income and minority backgrounds, may ditch higher education.
Roughly three-quarters of undergraduate students (77 percent) who responded to a recent poll from Education Trust and the Global Strategy Group said they were worried about being able to stay on track and graduate. Those shares were higher among black (84 percent) and Latino (81 percent) students.
“Many may soon not be students at all. They’re considering leaving school,” said King, in part due to the heavy burdens of stress they’re shouldering.
The survey also found that 80 percent of students are very concerned about not being able to get the skills or work experience they need to get a job after completing college — a number that rose to 85 percent among students of color.
Those numbers reinforce a federal data analysis from the National College Attainment Network. The group is tracking college student renewals of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which it says correlate strongly with college enrollment and so far are down over all by 3.2 percent compared to last year.
NCAN found steep declines in renewals beginning in mid-March. Those numbers improved in May, but not enough to cover earlier declines, particularly among low-income students.
Through May 31, the group found a 7.2 percent decline in renewals among returning college students with annual family incomes of less than $25,000 — a drop-off of roughly 240,000 students.
Strada on June 10 released survey results on whether respondents had canceled or changed their education plans. Higher percentages of Latino (50 percent) and black (42 percent) Americans reported disrupted plans than did white (26 percent) respondents.
Kim Cook, NCAN’s executive director, said anxiety and uncertainty are likely drivers of these trends.
“Any uncertainty can really rattle you,” she said, “particularly if you’re the first in your family to go to college.”
Scrutiny for Employers and Colleges
Doubts among lower-income Americans about investing in a college education are understandable, particularly during this time of crisis, said Aimée Eubanks Davis, founder and CEO of Braven, which works with San José State University and three other colleges and universities around the country to help underrepresented students transition from college to jobs.
“Before COVID you already had a big recession happening for certain groups of students,” said Davis, pointing to data that show a much smaller wage bump for bachelor’s degree holders who come from lower-income backgrounds compared to their wealthier peers.
Getting a well-paying job often depends on skills that too many underserved student groups don’t get while attending college, Davis said. “Higher-income kids are getting that from their parents and their peer groups.”
Those challenges likely won’t ease during a prolonged recession, she said, where the cash-strapped public colleges that enroll most lower-income students already have career services departments that are stretched too thin to adequately help many students.
Even so, Davis is more optimistic that traditional higher education will change in coming months and years to close equity gaps than she is about employers.
“I get more skeptical in a recession,” she said, adding that a scarcity of jobs makes her worried about companies meaningfully changing how they find more diverse talent. “If there’s not intentionality, these things don’t happen.”
Employers must not go back to business as usual amid the recovery, Jim Shelton, chief investment and impact officer at Blue Meridian Partners, an investment firm focused on economic mobility, said during the Jobs for the Future webcast.
Companies need to “lean as hard as ever” into thinking differently about their talent strategies, said Shelton, who formerly led the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s education arm and worked as an official at the Education Department. “We’ve got to make those things a part of the way that companies see their role in creating a new future and an economy that can work for everyone.”
The Strada survey can help connect the dots with actionable data for both employers and education providers, said Maria Flynn, JFF’s president and CEO.
“What are the actions that can be taken coming out of this that keep the equity frame in the center?” she said in an interview. “What are those no-regret solutions, regardless of how the recovery comes?”
Trust and Advice
The Strada survey found that black and Latino Americans are particularly likely to say they will enroll in education and training programs in coming months. That could be an opportunity for higher education to make inroads with underserved populations.
However, the poll found that these potential students are more likely to consider nontraditional providers, such as online and employer-based training programs, as well as community college, over an in-person, four-year college or university for that education and training.
Likewise, black Americans rank advice from colleges about education and training options as less valuable than advice from other sources.
Strada found that black respondents put higher education last, after advice from family, the internet and employers. Latino and white respondents said advice from colleges and universities was the second most valuable, after their families.
To better serve these student groups, Espinosa said she is encouraging college leaders to directly take on diversity, equity and inclusion as top priorities. And she said that means taking real action rather than just acknowledging the industry’s shortcomings.
“It’s unfortunate that you have to go through a crisis, often in higher education, to get serious about something,” said Espinosa. “But I see that we have the potential to get serious right now.”