Follow-ups and afterthoughts . . .
1. One post in May asked the question Can “Disability Humor” Really Work? Boston Globe business writer Drake Bennett poses a related query in Who’s Still Biased?, an in-depth look at whether diversity training actually works. The cited studies and quoted experts in Drake’s article seem to suggest that no one really knows—but the provisional answer is “probably not.” There seems to be little evidence that companies with formal diversity training programs improve in terms of hiring and promoting women and minorities. It even seems that compulsory and/or legalistic training can have a negative effect.
What does (or at least might) work better? The best plan may be adding “more explicit measures like minority outreach, mentoring, and even old-fashioned affirmative-action programs like setting gender- and race-based promotion targets and making someone responsible for them.”
2. Perils and Perks: Government Online recounted both a cautionary tale and a happy story. Here’s a little more news from the happy category: New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., have all made a some key data sets available to third-party developers—and the result is an array of apps that sift through the official info and makes it more useful to users. For example: San Francisco Crimespotting offers a nice interface for exploring police report data. And in NYC, a BigApps competition drew some inventive entries like Bookzee (enter the title of a book and the nearest public library with a copy will pop up on your iPhone). Data access is not limited to developers, by the way. Anyone can visit DC Data Catalog, NYC Data Mine and Data SF for serve-yourself downloads of permit records, purchase orders, code enforcement incidents, and more.
3. Inside Unemployment looked at the experience of editor Dominique Browning, whose job at an upscale lifestyle magazine suddenly disappeared. I think Browning’s book includes themes familiar to many people coping with unemployment, and offers interesting reflections on losing/finding work-life balance. But I can also understand why the book has provoked some critical responses. Carolyn See’s Washington Post review takes a rather sharp view of the book and its author, and although Browning defended herself in a recent appearance on the Diane Rehm show, it’s clear (from some of the negative emails received during the show, as well as comments on DR’s website) that people are very sensitive around the issue of unemployment.
Not much employment improvement in May—but things are not worse either. Let’s keep a good thought for June.
(Many thanks to thefixer for this month’s just-for-pretty photo: a ruby-throated hummingbird, caught in mid-flutter.)
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