The New York Times Magazine has published a lengthy expose into the corporate culture of Sterling Jewelers Inc, a corporation which dominates the mall jewelry business with brands like Jared and Kay. It is not pretty.
The Washington Post initially broke the story of employees’ widespread harassment allegations back in 2017, and there is a large class-action lawsuit over the company’s pay practices currently winding its way through the courts. Now Taffy Brodesser-Akner has a new feature for the New York Times Magazine detailing the company’s apparently rotten culture over the decades, alleging gender discrimination in wages and sexual harassment and providing a thorough accounting of how a toxic workplace is created and maintained. She writes about the mountain of sworn statements collected for the lawsuit, which after years is still stalled in litigation:
In the wake of a major independent investigation into CBS’s culture after the departure of former CEO Les Moonves—who was ousted after sexual misconduct allegations—one former executive described the network as “a workplace fraught with systemic racism, discrimination, and sexual harassment.”
In a post for Variety, former CBS exec Whitney Davis wrote about racism at the company, which she says stalled the development and careers of talented people of color and led to increased, isolating harassment. When she reported the issues in a lengthy two-hour interview to the two lawyers investigating CBS, there was no follow-up, she says. She realized “CBS, sadly, doesn’t value a diverse workplace.”
The consequences of this issue are well documented, from hate speech-spewing chatbots to racial bias in facial recognition. The report says that these failings — attributed to a lack of diversity within the AI sector — have created a “moment of reckoning.” Report author Kate Crawford said that the industry needs to acknowledge the gravity of the situation, and that the use of AI systems for classification, detection and predication of race and gender “is in urgent need of re-evaluation.”
Indeed, the report found that more than 80 percent of AI professors are men — a figure that reflects a wider problem across the computer science landscape. In 2015 women comprised only 24 percent of the computer and information sciences workforce. Meanwhile, only 2.5 percent of Google’s employees are black, with Facebook and Microsoft each reporting an only marginally higher four percent. Data on trans employees and other gender minorities is almost non-existent.
LONDON — Lamb’s Conduit Street seems almost too adorable to be real, as if Ye Olde Fantasy Englande, the one that exists in your head, had suddenly sprung to life. But it feels exactly right that this cobblestone thoroughfare in Bloomsbury, filled as it is with idiosyncratic shops selling artisanal cheese and homemade cakes and other rarefied items, should also be home to Persephone Books, a gem of a place devoted mostly to overlooked works by female writers of the mid-20th century.
Walking into the shop feels for a moment like walking back in time. Vintage posters exhort wartime women to, for instance, Join the Wrens, the British women’s naval service. But the present is here, too. In the window is a blowup of Senator Mitch McConnell’s ill-tempered remarks about Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2017, using language that sounds decidedly “Jane Eyre”-ish: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
COPENHAGEN — After an anti-Muslim provocateur publicly desecrated the Quran in Copenhagen, demonstrations against him on Sunday and early Monday descended into violent clashes between protesters, who set about 70 fires in the streets, and the police, who made 23 arrests.
The unrest in the Norrebro district of the Danish capital began on Sunday after Rasmus Paludan, the founder of a tiny far-right party, tossed a book he claimed was the Quran into the air and let it fall to the ground.
More than 10,000 British firms have revealed the difference between what they pay men and women. This is the second year that all companies with 250 or more employees have been required to disclose their pay gaps, revealing that more than three in four companies pay men more than they pay women. This is how the UK’s pay gap sizes up.
If American legislators have their way, tech companies will have to face more than negative publicity if they collect your data in a less-than-sincere fashion. Senators Mark Warner and Deb Fischer have introduced a bill, the DETOUR Act (Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction), that would bar internet firms with over 100 million monthly active users from tricking you into handing over personal data. Companies wouldn’t be allowed to develop interfaces with the “substantial effect” of preventing you from making an informed decision. They also wouldn’t be allowed to divide users into groups for experiments without consent, and couldn’t develop compulsive experiences targeted at kids under 13 years old (such as auto-playing videos).
Katie Bouman was a PhD student in computer science and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when, three years ago, she led the creation of an algorithm that would eventually lead to an image of a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, some 55m light years from Earth, being captured for the first time.
Democratic presidential hopefuls will face off in a public forum on LGBTQ issues this fall. The event, slated for National Coming Out Day on October 10, marks the first time Democratic candidates have debated queer issues since 2008, when Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, and Barack Obama faced off in a Human Rights Campaign Foundation forum.
A lot has changed in the past 11 years. For one thing, there’s an openly gay candidate in the race now (South Bend, IN, mayor Pete Buttigieg), reflecting the dramatic shift in attitudes toward LGBTQ people symbolized most prominently in the legalization of same-sex marriage. Whereas only one candidate in 2008—Kucinich, then an Ohio congressman—spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage, there is little apparent daylight between the 2020 candidates’ current stances on LGBTQ rights. There has also been a major cultural awakening around transgender rights and gender identity.
While Perrier and the panel mainly illustrated the crisis in relation to sex trafficking, the nonconsensual selling of people for sexual exploitation, it stretches further. You can also blame the serial rapists, murderers, abusers, inefficient county police departments, apathetic federal investigators, capitalistic private prisons, soulless fossil fuel companies and their man camps, under-funded and male-dominated tribal law enforcement departments, ignorant federal governments, and scrambling state legislators.
Yet instead of Indigenous women being buried by government-enforced anonymity, the opposite has happened. Indigenous women couldn’t count on their governments to listen, especially when the people there had so little factual knowledge of their communities. So they stormed them. They ran for seats in state and federal legislatures, they formed grassroots movements, they flooded social media. They launched investigations when the police would not. They sat on panels and they walked out of them when exclusionary language was deployed. They have repeatedly acted, filling a centuries-long void of inaction left open by the governments that make up the United States.