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  • Ben Kettle

Good To Know: October 2021 🧑‍💻

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

A monthly round-up of things happening in hiring, D&I, and humanity.




🤓This week we have🤓

  • What I wrote this month

  • Modeling the impact of bias on careers

  • Where people are quitting their jobs

  • Vaccine mandates and their effect on employment

  • Tesla’s odd response

  • Quality tweets

  • Why representation matters for tech products: a case study

  • The NFL - Still not getting it


 

✍️What I wrote this month✍️


 

👩‍💼 Bias is a big problem (especially when it’s compounding…) 👩🏽‍💻


Months ago I had an idea to write about the damaging effects that small, implicit biases could have on the careers of women and other underrepresented groups.


Thankfully, journalist Jessica Nordell had the same idea. And she did a much better job with it than I ever could.


In a piece for the NYT, Nordell, her coauthors, and computer scientists at the University of Buffalo built a model that simulated the career advancement of women and men based on known biases. The whole article is worth a look, if only for the simulations.

FWIW, I’m reading Nordell’s new book “The End of Bias: A Beginning” and it is very, very good.


 

Georgia, Kentucky, and Idaho lead the way in “I quit” - That’s a good thing


A record number of workers quit their jobs in August. But, according to the Washington Post, employers in Georgia, Kentucky, and Idaho have it worse.¹

How you feel about the pandemic stimulus packages is a good predictor of how you feel about the Great Resignation. Just in my circle, I’ve heard opinions ranging from “We’re paying people not to work, and people so lazy” to “Yay! People with crappy jobs finally have enough breathing room to quit those crappy jobs.”


Personally, I’m supportive of the Great Resignation. For one, I personally elected to start a business this spring after the pandemic made me realize that, at least right now, flexibility and autonomy are more important to me and my family.²


I also agree with Ed Zitron’s idea that “There Isn't A Labor Shortage, There's An Abundance of Bad Companies.” To carry his idea further, the Great Resignation will hasten two things:

  1. A dramatic improvement in work cultures, because companies will have to adapt, and

  2. A whole new wave of value creation. We’re experiencing a record number of new business formations.³ Not all of them will be successful or even be employers, but a more dynamic economy is a good thing.

I guess people aren’t that lazy.



💉 The Vaccine Mandate Talent Shortage - Much Ado About Nothing


I live in Nashville, which means that about half of my friends work in healthcare. It also means that I had many, many conversations this summer about vaccine mandates and how they could potentially lead to a staffing crisis in healthcare.


Turns out those fears were overblown. Take the Medical University of South Carolina for example.

By the deadline, 97% of MUSC employees were in compliance and 178 of its 17,000 workers weren't, Cawley said. In the end, the health system lost just four employees—0.0002% of the staff—all of whom were also in violation of other company policies

And it’s not just healthcare. Seems like United Airlines, who took a “risk” mandating vaccines for their employees, is doing just fine too.

Nearly all of United’s 67,000 U.S. employees have been vaccinated, in one of the largest and most successful corporate efforts of the kind during the pandemic.

I guess employees get less dogmatic when their jobs are on the line?


 

💸 Teslas lost a $137M lawsuit - their response was strange 💸


This month Tesla lost a lawsuit brought by a former worker who claimed that he was subjected to a racist, hostile work environment.


I didn’t follow the case that closely, but I did read Tesla’s response. It’s odd.


Here’s the beginning of the press release. Does anything jump out at you?

-Mr. Diaz never worked for Tesla. He was a contract employee who worked for Citistaff. -Mr. Diaz worked as an elevator operator at the Fremont factory for nine months, from June 2015 to March 2016. -In addition to Mr. Diaz, three other witnesses (all non-Tesla contract employees)

Does it seem strange how often they emphasize that the plaintiff, along with a few of the witnesses, were contractors?


This may just be me, but I read the Tesla response as an implied admission that treating contractors poorly, and not trusting them, is OK. Something like “Guys, he was a contractor, we would never treat employees this way! Contractors have to take what they can get.” In many ways, Tesla’s response is more revealing than the lawsuit.


 

📸 Why representation matters when building technology products 📸


Augmented reality software, some optical imaging medical devices, and other tech products that use skin tone imaging don’t work as well with people with darker skin tones.


Google is working on this problem with a feature called Real Tone in their Pixel 6 camera.

It’s a good example of how a diverse team can improve your product for everyone.



🐤 Solid Tweets 🐤


Uncle Cal coming through with a quality call out of “Rock Star.” Here’s the article that does the financial comparison.


 

❌ The NFL: Still not getting it ❌


The (formerly) 3rd highest-paid coach in the NFL, Jon Gruden, resigned after a bunch of racists, homophobic, and misogynistic emails he wrote were made public. I’ve written about the lack of authentic leadership at the NFL before, Gruden provides more evidence.

You’d think that after repeated failures to actually give a shit that the NFL would be dying to make legitimate cultural improvements. But maybe not? I mean, after all, people in the NFL received those emails - no one felt like they should have said something?



And Finally📈…


I have the goal to get to 1,000 subscribers by the end of the year. Why? Because I want everyone to hire more thoughtfully, and the bigger the audience, the better.


Three things you can do to help:

  1. If you haven’t subscribed and you find this newsletter helpful, please subscribe.


2. If you find the posts valuable, please share Lying to Ourselves with a friend or colleague.


3. If you think this content is terrible, wrong, or could use a slight improvement, please let me know why and how.


That’s it for me. We’ll be back next week. Thanks again for reading!


 

1 All three of those states have low minimum wages. Must be a coincidence.


2 It’s going well!


3 Despite all the media hype, new business formation (and U.S. migration) have been in decline since the Great Recession. The changes brought on by the Pandemic may seem sudden, but we’re really just making up for lost time on the new business formation front.


4 I went to the Titans / Cheifs game where they used augmented reality to change how fans looked on the jumbotron. My friend leaned over and said, “Hey, have you noticed how that doesn’t work on African-American folks?” He was right, which reminded me to post about Real Tone. Thanks Will!

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