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Federal regulations dictate that employers of a certain size must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
Reasonable accommodations are defined broadly and depend on the role and nature of a particular job.
A strong diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policy that includes team members with disabilities can benefit workplace culture and signal a welcoming environment to prospective employees.
This article is for business owners and managers who want to learn best practices for including employees with disabilities in their DEI policies.
Employers are required legally to follow specific guidelines for accommodating employees with disabilities. However, following the law doesn’t necessarily signal that an organization is welcoming to workers with disabilities.
Alongside their legal duty, companies can demonstrate inclusivity by incorporating protections for people with disabilities within their diversity, equity and inclusion policies. Read ahead for a guide on how employers can go beyond their lawful obligations and create an authentically inclusive and equitable workplace for all employees.What regulations cover people with disabilities in the workplace?
If your organization is crafting a DEI policy, you must first be aware of your legal obligations as an employer. Below is an overview of laws that protect workers with disabilities.Americans with Disabilities Act
On the federal level, employees with disabilities are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed in 1990, this law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in a range of day-to-day realms, including public transportation and government services.
For employers, ADA regulations require businesses with 15 or more employees to provide equal employment access and reasonable accommodations for qualified workers with disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which investigates official charges of discrimination, enforces Title 1, the section of the ADA that addresses employment discrimination.
“Everything from recruitment to promotion and termination falls under [the ADA’s] umbrella,” explained Brad Banias, founding partner of Banias Law. “Imagine this scenario. A person with a disability, who is perfectly qualified for a job, is passed over due to their disability. Let’s say, for example, a job applicant with mobility issues is denied a role at a small business. The reason? Their office is on the second floor without an elevator, making it inaccessible. When the employer doesn’t provide a ‘reasonable accommodation,’ like an elevator or a more accessible office, that’s a direct violation of the ADA.”
Consult your small business accountant about tax deductions and credits you may be eligible for when striving for ADA compliance. For example, you may be able to deduct costs associated with removing barriers or making other architectural alterations.Equal Employment Opportunity laws
Another important piece of federal legislation passed to protect individuals with disabilities is Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This rule falls under the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws that the United States Department of Labor (DOL) enforces; it bars discrimination against “qualified individuals with disabilities.” This phrase encompasses people who meet the qualifications required for the job, such as relevant communications knowledge for a marketing role.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which the DOL oversees, enforces the Rehabilitation Act. Unlike the EEOC, the OFCCP has jurisdiction over federal contractors.
“Instances that might draw OFCCP attention generally involve a federal contractor falling short in terms of actively recruiting, employing, promoting or retaining individuals with disabilities,” Banias said. “Let’s say a small business with a federal contract consistently picks nondisabled applicants over those with disabilities who are equally or even more qualified. That’s a breach of the Rehabilitation Act.”
Did You Know?
When a business is EEO-compliant, it treats everyone equally in the hiring process and in other employment practices like promotions, compensation, layoffs, benefits and more.State regulations
In addition to federal laws, most states have legislation that addresses the right to reasonable accommodations at work. The language of these statutes is often similar to the ADA, although local laws may or may not include additional protections.
For instance, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act states that employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with a physical or mental disability. This law expands the requirement to organizations with five or more employees compared to the ADA’s 15-minimum threshold.
Employers must be informed of federal and state regulations that dictate what kind of accommodations they must provide.
In addition to federal legislation, employers must understand local and state regulations that govern reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.How does including people with disabilities in your DEI policy affect your company culture?
Organizations should approach laws like the ADA as more than legal obligations. Prioritizing accessibility in the workplace is central to developing a positive company culture.
“These laws aren’t just about warding off bad practices,” Banias noted. “They’re key to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.”
Establishing an inclusive workplace culture starts with a robust DEI policy, which serves as an official statement of your organization’s values. A well-crafted DEI policy affirms an organization’s commitment to promoting diversity in hiring, engagement and retention practices. From attracting new customers to expanding your talent pool, a strong DEI policy affects success in numerous ways.
“Embracing diversity, equity and inclusion allows businesses to unlock a host of benefits, from a diversity of perspectives and skills to better team performance and a solid corporate reputation,” Banias explained. “By doing so, businesses can transcend mere legal compliance and cultivate a genuinely inclusive and equitable workspace.”
Unfortunately, employees with disabilities are often left out of DEI initiatives. Organizations that want to demonstrate true inclusion should create a DEI policy incorporating accessibility at every level. For instance, in addition to providing accessible workplace tools and systems, organizations can create leadership pipelines for employees with disabilities. If you want to truly be a diverse and inclusive company, it’s important to take a holistic approach and consider all aspects of your business.
Use tech-based diversity hiring tools like anonymous resume review software and artificial intelligence-assisted job description-writing tools to counter unconscious bias in the hiring process.
Below, you’ll find an explanation of what adhering to laws like the ADA looks like in practice.Providing reasonable accommodations
Under the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees and job candidates with disabilities. That said, what constitutes a reasonable accommodation is defined broadly. An accommodation consists of making a change to the way a job is performed or adjusting an employee’s environment. This way, the employee can still complete a job’s essential functions.
However, what’s considered reasonable depends on the specific request and nature of the job. The legal test for what constitutes reasonable is described as “not creating an undue hardship” to the employer. If an employee requests an accommodation that qualifies as an undue hardship, it’s your responsibility as an employer to identify an alternative.
“Essential function” is also not a fixed term ― it encompasses any tasks considered fundamental for the position. To determine whether something is an essential function, ask yourself: Does this role exist to perform this specific duty? For instance, answering customer inquiries is an essential function of a customer service representative position. However, if an employee is responding to phone calls or emails, it may not be essential for them to work in person.Examples of required accommodations
Here are some ways an employer can accommodate employees with disabilities in performing the core elements of their job:
Modifying job materials: You can make slight formatting or equipment alterations to assist employees with disabilities. For example, individuals with auditory processing conditions may request team training materials in writing.
Environmental accommodations: An employer can implement changes that make a business’s physical space more accessible. This can include changes to an employee’s work area, reserving accessible parking and granting accommodations for employees with service animals.
Schedule flexibility: Employees can request flexible workplace options and adjusted hours based on their disability-related needs. This can include incorporating a remote or hybrid schedule.
Changes to job task format: Reasonable accommodations can also include shifting how essential job functions are performed. For instance, a cashier who can only stand for limited periods could be provided with seating.
Create a DEI training program in your workplace to help team members learn to positively address biases and increase empathy and understanding across the organization.
A commitment to inclusion goes beyond the bare minimum. Here are some ways companies can ensure team members with disabilities get an equal seat at the table.Design an accessible workspace.
Accessibility and accommodations shouldn’t be afterthoughts when planning your office layout. Many features of a highly accommodating workspace can benefit the entire team. For example, proactively providing ergonomic furniture is good for every team member’s health.Prioritize the voices of employees with disabilities, but don’t burden them.
It’s important to create space at the table for those with actual lived experiences when creating policies that affect them. Respecting employees’ boundaries when they prefer to step back is equally important. Some employees with disabilities may be comfortable speaking openly about their experiences while others may prefer privacy. You want to elevate the voices of those with disabilities, not force the mic on them.
If you demonstrate a genuine commitment to accessibility, that itself can create room for individuals with disabilities to develop an interest in DEI-related leadership. But it’s important to recognize that DEI leadership is still labor and shouldn’t be expected for free.Educate yourself and be open to confronting biases.
Our society still has a long way to go with acknowledging the ableism that’s woven into our daily lives. It often appears subtly, such as using outdated language or making false assumptions about team members who request accommodations for disabilities that aren’t visible. Creating an inclusive workspace starts with taking accountability for your internal biases. Organizations should prioritize education and training that addresses harmful behaviors and attitudes toward team members with disabilities, whether intentional or not.
To encourage employees with disabilities to engage with DEI initiatives, focus on creating a welcoming environment and prioritize education and accountability.Prioritizing accessibility is key to a successful business
Employees with disabilities are too often overlooked in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, so ensuring their inclusion in your company policies is important. However, writing a comprehensive DEI policy is just the first step to creating an inclusive workspace. It’s essential to continue elevating the voices of team members with disabilities and recognize that inclusion isn’t a one-time action ― it takes an everyday commitment.
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Employees say company culture is a top priority for potential jobs, which means a positive workplace culture is more crucial than ever.
To create a positive work culture, offer attractive benefits and perks to entice new talent and provide the right environment to keep them long term.
While fair and competitive compensation is critical, keeping employees happy requires more than just a paycheck.
This article is for employers looking to improve hiring and retention rates for top talent.
Business success requires myriad elements supporting and executing a company’s mission and vision. Employees are perhaps the most vital element of a company’s operations and growth, providing a face to customers and an essential backbone supporting all its endeavors.
Attracting and retaining top talent is a top priority for most businesses, but not every company can compete in a salary-driven contest. Fortunately, every organization can shore up its workplace culture to create a positive, supportive atmosphere that can mean as much – or more than – money.
We’ll look at the importance of company culture in hiring and retaining excellent employees and share tips on creating a positive culture where your team will thrive.
Did You Know?
It’s crucial to consider how job candidates will fit into your company culture. When hiring for a cultural fit, ensure your hiring materials emphasize your mission and values.Why company culture matters
There’s been a shift away from employees accepting a less-than-stellar workplace culture even if compensation is adequate. If you want to attract and keep excellent employees, you must create and maintain a positive company culture.
Here’s why company culture matters:
Potential employees strongly consider workplace culture. A landmark 2023 Glassdoor survey that polled over 5,000 workers from the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany found that 77 percent would “consider a company’s culture” before seeking a job there. Another 56 percent said a good workplace culture was “more important than salary” for job satisfaction. Additionally, 73 percent of respondents from four countries said they “would not apply to a company unless its values align with [their] own personal values.”
Toxic work environments drive overall turnover. Today’s employees won’t stand for a toxic work environment. Amid the pandemic-induced Great Resignation – which saw record employment turnover – workers seemed to reevaluate their priorities. MIT Sloan research revealed that toxic work environment complaints are the No. 1 reason driving turnover in various industries, drastically overshadowing other issues.
Younger employees are more likely to switch jobs. Lever’s 2023 Great Resignation report revealed that 65 percent of Gen Z employees are likely to stay at their jobs for less than a year and are more than twice as likely to leave their jobs in the next month. They leave jobs in droves because they’re seeking a professional fit that aligns with their desires – and they’ll take a pay cut if a job is worthwhile.
Employee retention is more challenging than ever. In the aftermath of the Great Resignation, it’s been crucial for companies to find ways to retain employees and bring in new talent. Companies view employees as investments – but employees also view their employers as an investment. Companies that prioritize flexibility and employee happiness in their cultures seem to improve retention rates and can draw new prospects.
Did You Know?
A positive workplace culture must also have a culture of inclusion that provides a safe space for all employees and creates and encourages a sense of belonging.How to create a positive company culture
A positive company culture is a vital element of growing your business and team. If you create a culture that offers personal and professional growth, that will attract employees that want to be challenged and invested in their jobs.
Here’s how to build a better, more positive work culture:
Hold performance assessments to improve company culture. Performance reviews can be a chore, but they can significantly impact your team’s growth when done thoughtfully and with care. Reviewing employees’ progress and welcoming their feedback can improve relationships and boost productivity. Regular reviews can foster a company culture of support and improvement.
Conduct employee surveys to improve company culture. Proactively seeking feedback via employee surveys can help a company grow and improve while demonstrating to employees how valuable they are. Soliciting employee input gives management and owners a chance to view their organization from different perspectives. When they implement employee suggestions, everyone wins.
Flexible work schedules improve company culture. Flexible schedule options are a creative way for businesses to show employees they’re valued, even if they can’t provide a salary increase. Company cultures that accept various work schedules are more likely to appeal to new candidates. Businesses with strong post-pandemic “return to office” mandates have been met with resistance from people accustomed to working from home and benefiting from flexible work policies.
Career development opportunities improve company culture. Organizations that encourage professional growth and offer a career trajectory tend to retain employees. When companies offer new hire training programs, mentorship programs and promotion paths, they foster a workplace culture of support and ensure better long-term employment rates.
Stress-reduction measures improve company culture. Work is often a source of stress for many employees, whether or not they love their job. Deadlines, pressure and multitasking can lead to employee burnout. If you find ways to create a stress-free work environment, you can help keep top-tier talent and appeal to excellent candidates.
Emphasizing your mission improves company culture. People want to work for companies they believe in, so it’s crucial to have a clear and defined mission statement and vision statement that jive with current employees’ and potential applicants’ views. The Glassdoor survey revealed that 66 percent of respondents said a clear mission is important for staying engaged at work. Clearly communicating your mission sets a company direction employees are happy to follow.
Did You Know?
Workplace positivity begins with leadership. Managers can create a culture that works with honesty, transparency and unwavering support.
To improve employee well-being, help them feel energized by giving them assignments they want, foster teams with team-building exercises, and support employees’ long-term career goals.A good company culture reaps rewards
In today’s employment climate, companies face the challenge of finding the right candidates as they expand. To attract the best talent, businesses must consider various structures, including on-site, hybrid and remote, as well as attractive employee perks like flexible schedules and paid time off.
While everyone wants high pay, there’s a limit on what employees are willing to sacrifice to get it. A strong company culture can safeguard your business by fostering employee happiness and long-term goodwill.
It’s no secret that 2023 was a landmark year that brought about a rise in schools and organizations trying hard to do work focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. For many, this is a season that has highlighted gaps that need to be filled and demanded that people stretch themselves and press into discomfort. One of the main frustrations we’ve been hearing from teachers—both from our work with them and through social media—is that their school leaders don’t seem to be prioritizing this work, if exploring it at all.
So, while there are articles out there on what books to read and what organizations to turn to, we wanted to write directly to school leaders and invite you to consider some preliminary steps that you can take to launch sustainable and authentic work for celebrating diversity, moving toward equity, and practicing inclusion.
1. Do Your Own Work
You can’t lead a school through equity and justice work if you haven’t done the work yourself. It’s important to model some of the ideas yourselves. The best way to get buy-in from your community is to own the work and live it out. Teachers often feel that school leaders are doing performative work because they use “equity” as a tagline and a one-off event or professional development session. What counts most is how you do things, not necessarily what you’re doing.
A common barrier to getting started is facing the reality of having several priorities and so much to tackle at your school. That’s real. However, this important work would definitely become a top priority the minute your school ended up on social media or in the news because one of your teachers or another staff member did something racist and discriminatory. You can be proactive and make this one of your top priorities now. Move it up on the list.
2. Identify Other School Leaders Who Have Done This Work
You’re not alone, especially in 2023. There are other school leaders around the country in all types of school settings moving equity work forward in ways that suit their context. Try seeing their work as a model that you can borrow from. Around this issue, networking is a critical part of your approach. Join organizations and social media groups such as Multicultural Classroom (our organization), Bright Morning, Embracing Equity, and more so that you can meet other school leaders for brainstorming sessions.
Not knowing where to start or where to find active people is a common obstacle. We get it. Where are you supposed to find other school leaders dedicated to this work? Supposedly, no one is doing this, right? Wrong. Others are doing it, and as we said, it’s about building a network. Consider starting on social media. Look up groups, pages, hashtags, and organizations that promote this work, and you’ll certainly find school leaders there.
3. Identify Your School-Based Partners in This Work
You can be sure that there are already others at your school wanting to do, if not already doing, equity- and justice-focused work. Tap their shoulder and build community with them. Check in on what they’ve accomplished, and share your desires and intentions with them. While bringing teachers in is crucial, don’t stop there.
Consider reaching out to parents, students, alumni, staff, and other stakeholders. You can connect with parents through meet-and-greets on campus, relationship building at extracurricular events, and other moments when they may be physically present. Sometimes, Roberto would intentionally attend basketball and other sporting games to make sure to connect with specific parents for conversations in these friendly contexts.
Other stakeholders include community members, board members, local leaders, and others connected to the school, such as business owners. While seemingly disconnected, they play an important role in the community, and their support at school could yield impactful change. They may also be able to offer resources in support of your vision.
When reaching out to your school community, you might fear being seen as lacking knowledge, or the opposite—taking too strong of a stance. What’s the alternative? Silence on the issue? If you’re truly committed to the work, it’s important to strive toward your goal. Boldness and courage are traits that we want our students to display, and we can model them ourselves. Start small and take the leap.
4. Take Tangible Steps That Will Move You Forward
Too often, this work in schools becomes about a committee that comes together to talk. After months of only that, people lose morale and energy. Make sure to set goals and work toward achieving them. Set attainable goals and don’t worry about hitting a home run. Advancement is the goal.
At one school facing some major challenges, Roberto identified a critical issue furthering inequities. These were his initial goals:
Decrease the student suspension rate by finding alternatives for student support.
Partner with a district-based thought leader to create alternatives.
In a different context, Lorena was trying to help her school launch their anti-bias work. Her goals were the following:
Identify two to three staff members who would engage in the work.
Establish a committee to share the labor and design next steps for impact.
Starting these committees and communities within a school is no easy task, but it can surely be done well. You’re likely to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. This is understandable and a real concern, but there are things you can keep in mind in order to make the process more manageable.
First, remember to start small and focus on one task at a time. Second, don’t work alone. Use the school community network that you’ve built. Depend on them to help you move the work forward. Third, turn to external experts when necessary. Is there a local organization that can support your school’s work?
When Roberto was working to decrease student suspensions, he recruited a local grassroots artistic organization, Elevated Thought, that used art therapy for healing and identity building. It was the first partnership and program of its kind at that school. Students and even their parents became engaged! Are there experts that can come and assist your team to move the work forward? Reach out and welcome them in.
In the end, taking initiative is the first step. It communicates to your team that you are leaning in to this and these issues matter to you, both personally and professionally. Demonstrate that embracing diversity, motivating others to think about and practice equity, and intentionally including marginalized people is a priority for you and that you’re willing to take risks for it.
All of this change requires community, and nurturing of that community can’t happen with you alone. This important work, while it depends on you to succeed, isn’t about you. That’s the good news: All of the work is about the school community.
Nostalgia a parte, cosa ci ha lasciato Myspace? Ecco 5 feature che provano quanto sia stato precursore dei tempi questo social.
La riga da un lato, il ciuffo che copre metà del viso, lo sguardo malinconico, i selfie scattati dall’alto quando ancora non si chiamavano selfie. Inquietudine adolescenziale cosparsa di tanto nero, tante scritte colorate e glitterate, tanti cuori e tanti teschi, tanta musica e tante parole sparse. Un diario personale aperto al pubblico: ecco Myspace, il place to be degli adolescenti un po’ emo degli anni Duemila.
Forse oggi ce lo ricordiamo così, associandolo con un po’ di nostalgia ai primi approcci social pre-Facebook, pre-Snapchat, pre-tutti gli altri. Ma se ci pensiamo bene, e andiamo magari a scovare la nostra vecchia password nei cassetti della memoria – o della posta – allora possiamo renderci conto di quanto Myspace fosse molto di più. E di quanto il suo claim – a place for friends – racchiudesse in realtà la perfetta definizione di social network, prima ancora che di social media, così come la intendiamo oggi.
Myspace era avanti. Ai tempi, il concetto di “social” ancora non era ben chiaro e definito nelle nostre menti – almeno non per la maggior parte delle persone – eppure si stava già delineando concretamente grazie anche a questa piattaforma, che racchiudeva in unico posto alcuni elementi diventati nel tempo molto familiari.
Il modo in cui oggi utilizziamo i social media è fortemente influenzato da feature che Myspace ha introdotto nei primi anni Duemila. Solo che non abbiamo mai apprezzato i suoi Bulletin fino alla comparsa delle Storie di Snapchat (e ora di Instagram), o i suoi Polls fino all’arrivo dei sondaggi su Twitter.
Quello che poi è successo al social nel corso degli anni è ormai storia. Il tentativo di risollevarne le sorti da parte di nomi noti come quello di Justin Timberlake – che ci ha fatto un pochino esultare (e illudere) qualche anno fa – non è bastato. I tempi sono cambiati, la competizione tra le varie piattaforme social è sempre più forte e si gioca su ben altri piani, ma Myspace è rimasto nel cuore di tanti.
50 milioni di utenti attivi al mese, di cui si aveva traccia agli albori del 2023, possono sembrare una cifra davvero esigua rispetto a quelle cui ci ha abituato Mark Zuckerberg. E di fatto lo sono. Ma rappresentano anche un indizio di quanto ancora l’eredità di Myspace sia forte e abbia lasciato un segno. Se poi andiamo a rileggere alcune delle sue principali feature con gli occhi di adesso…beh, nonostante i glitter, grazie ancora, Myspace!Myspace Group
Nei suoi anni migliori, Myspace ha reso popolare il formato gruppo introducendo i Myspace Groups (RIP: 2003-2010). Gli utenti potevano partecipare a gruppi divisi per categorie come “Fashion& Style”, “Music” o “Food, Drink and Wine”. Inoltre, potevano entrare a far parte di gruppi locali o nazionali, per interagire con utenti provenienti da una certa area geografica, ed effettuare ricerche all’interno dei Groups.
Oggi, nel 2023, i gruppi sono utilizzati da milioni di persone con interessi in comune in tutto il mondo – in primo luogo su Facebook.Myspace Bulletin
I Myspace Bulletin erano un ottimo modo per scambiarsi messaggi di gruppo online. I bollettini venivano pubblicati su una apposita bacheca perché tutti gli amici di Myspace potessero vederli (incluso il nostro caro Tom, te lo ricordi?), e consentivano a un utente di mandare messaggi a un intero elenco di contatti senza dover scrivere a tutti uno per uno. Dopo 10 giorni, il testo veniva cancellato.
Cosa ti ricorda? Snapchat? O forse Instagram? Entrambi, possiamo dire.
Oggi le Storie di Snapchat sono uno dei modi migliori per mandare un messaggio a un gruppo di amici, contatti o clienti, e un’ottima strategia per condividere i contenuti creativi del proprio brand, magari con l’aiuto di qualche influencer. Un format talmente fortunato, insomma, da spingere anche Instagram a “inventare” il suo. Ora abbiamo anche le Instagram Stories e stanno letteralmente spopolando.Myspace Polls
Presente nella versione originale di Myspace, questa feature era stata poi temporaneamente disattivata fino al 2008, anno in cui fu messa di nuovo a disposizione degli utenti. In questo modo era possibile pubblicare sondaggi sul proprio profilo e condividerli con altri, ottenendo importanti informazioni sui amici e contatti.
Come forma di social listening, oggi i sondaggi sono più attivi e popolari che mai grazie ai Twitter Polls, utili soprattutto per condurre ricerche di mercato e ottenere feedback su contenuti, servizi e prodotti. Tutte cose che, volendo, erano già fattibili con i polls di Myspace.Myspace Mood
Oggi siamo sempre più abituati a comunicare in modo rapido e immediato grazie all’aiuto di immagini, video, emoji, meme, GIF e chi più ne ha più ne metta. Anche in questo caso, Myspace è stato un precursore con l’introduzione dei Myspace Mood, emoticon da aggiungere agli aggiornamenti di stato degli utenti per illustrare l’umore di chi scriveva.
Facebook ha introdotto le reactions nel febbraio 2023, consentendo agli utenti di esprimersi su un post con il classico like, oppure con le faccine a cui ci siamo ormai abituati. Eppure, con altro nome e altre sembianze, in fondo esistevano già.Myspace Video
Nel 2006, Mashable annunciava che i video di Myspace stavano iniziando a prendere piede e riscuotere maggior successo rispetto a quelli dei competitor – primo fra tutti YouTube. Nel 2007, il nome di questo format divenne MyspaceTV, per poi tornare di nuovo a Myspace Video nel 2009.
Nonostante le peripezie onomastiche, però, alla lunga questa feature non è stata in grado di tenere il passo con le altre piattaforme di video sharing. Oggi i video di Facebook e Snapchat superano gli 8 miliardi di views quotidiane, mentre oltre un miliardo di utenti, cioè quasi un terzo della popolazione di internet, trascorre ore e ore su YouTube ogni giorno.
I video sono oggi un elemento chiave in ogni buona strategia di Social Media Marketing. Quante volte hai sentito dire che il 2023 è l’anno dei video? Ecco, appunto.
Adesso, forse, possiamo mettere da parte gli emo per un attimo e riconoscere che Myspace ha raggiunto l’apice anni fa ed è ormai un ricordo lontano, ma ha lasciato un’impronta indelebile sui social media contemporanei.
Vuoi gestire i tuoi social da un’unica piattaforma, analizzare e migliorare le tue performance e collaborare in team? Scopri Hootsuite!
Should You Replace Your Gas Stove? After gas stoves took center stage in political culture wars, a BU public health expert says there are good reasons to switch to electric—but there’s more to the story
Photo by SolStock/iStock
Gas stovesShould We Break Up with Gas Stoves? After gas stoves take some heat in political culture wars, a BU public health expert says there are good reasons to switch to electric—but there are safety steps you can take in the meantime
My kitchen, like those of many other apartment dwellers in Boston, has a gas stove with no ventilation. Given a rash of recent headlines suggesting gas stoves could be bad for our health, should I be worried that cooking my soothing curry could be harming me?
The surprisingly emotional debate over gas stoves was sparked in part due to a 2023 study that found about 13 percent of childhood asthma cases in the US can be attributed to gas stove use, and because of a US Consumer Product Safety Commission official suggesting a ban on their sale. Despite the agency later clarifying that it had no plans to prohibit them, conservative politicians, like Rick Perry, former Texas governor and energy secretary, were upset at the prospect of the “environmental woke crowd” coming for people’s stoves.
Culture wars aside, there are research-backed reasons to be aware of the potential hazards of gas stoves, for ourselves and for the environment. Jonathan Levy, a Boston University School of Public Health professor and chair of environmental health, studies indoor air pollution specifically related to gas stoves. He, as well as others, have found direct correlations between gas stoves and personal exposure to nitrogen dioxide, which is associated with more severe asthma and other respiratory issues.
Gas stoves also expose us to other hazardous air pollutants, according to Levy, including low levels of benzene, a cancer-causing agent. Although the federal government doesn’t have plans to ban them just yet, cities across the country have been eliminating natural gas hookups in new construction to lower greenhouse gas emissions, since gas stoves emit methane, a potent heat-trapping gas that dramatically fuels climate change.
But many of us have been using gas stoves for years, so is all the outrage and worry overblown? Yes and no.
Climate writer Emily Atkin calls gas stoves the “plastic straws of building emissions,” meaning that even though their overall impact is small—gas stoves account for less than 3 percent of household natural gas use—they provide a door to discuss larger problems. To understand the issue better, The Brink spoke with Levy about indoor air pollution, whether opening a window while cooking makes a difference, and the overdue attention gas stoves are receiving.
A with Jonathan Levy
The mere suggestion that gas stoves could be banned has caused many emotionally charged reactions. Why are people so attached to them?
Levy: You’re literally hitting people where they live, right? I don’t know if it’s about the gas stove, per se, or if it’s more about the fact that you’re talking about the place where people are preparing meals for their family. It’s a very intimate and personal thing. There’s a sense of intruding. We’ve seen this story before in different forms. Some years back, when the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] was proposing an outdoor air pollution standard for particulate matter, there was something in their documents that talked about the contribution of backyard grills and barbecues. That pretty quickly turned into [backlash] about banning our barbecues—overblown arguments and false claims that they’re gonna get rid of our grills and not allow us to have burgers in the yard.
What have you found in your research about gas stoves contributing to indoor air pollution?
Levy: This goes way back. My first studies that had to do with indoor air and gas stoves were in the late ’90s, and I was certainly not the first person to study this. I got involved in a couple of studies, one that measured nitrogen dioxide inside and outside of homes in 15 different countries. We found that having a gas stove and using that stove was one of the most important contributors to your personal exposure to nitrogen dioxide. In a second study, we found that the presence of gas stoves tells you a pretty good amount about your exposure—but then having a little more information about building type and ventilation, and having a pilot light, could help differentiate who has higher or lower exposure. I’ve been very interested in indoor air pollution, because we spend almost all of our time indoors. It matters a lot for health, and there are structural changes and behavioral changes that can make a big difference.
Right, I’m guessing one of those being, not using gas stoves?
Levy: That’s certainly one of a number of options. It’s important to recognize that the effect of gas stoves on indoor air is different for different homes. So, if you have a smaller home, it’s going to have a much greater effect. There are socioeconomic and racial-ethnic disparities that travel along with that too.
You mentioned ventilation; does opening a window or opening a door make a difference?
Levy: It does make a difference. Part of the complexity is that everybody’s home is configured a little bit differently. It depends somewhat on what the airflow looks like in your home, and if you open a window—are the fumes from cooking going to vent directly out or are they going to travel elsewhere given how the air flows in the home? It’s hard to get a one-size-fits-all [solution], but it’s clearly the case that as you get better air exchange in the home, you can reduce the contributions from indoor sources like gas stoves. Hopefully, the air is coming from a place in your home that is cleaner.
What are some of the major concerns about gas stoves?
Levy: Nitrogen dioxide from burning fuel and what that does to respiratory health is a big part of the story. There have been studies that have measured a variety of volatile organic compounds that also come from gas stoves. Some of those are carcinogenic, and others have a variety of other health effects. One study didn’t see levels that exceeded thresholds of concern. But that of course varies by home. There’s the climate part of the story, which is less about your personal exposure, but more so about moving away from gas to something that is electric. If electricity is generated from clean sources, it can be an important step in trying to reduce carbon emissions and trying to then address the root cause of climate change. In fact, the Inflation Reduction Act and some other policies incentivize swapping out gas appliances—climate change is the major reason, but indoor air pollution should also be considered.
Are there other quietly emitting sources of indoor air pollution beyond stoves that people aren’t aware of?
Levy: That’s a good question. There are definitely things like candles or incense that not everybody uses. When they do, they certainly generate a fair amount of pollution, including particulate pollution. Anything that is creating a flame and creating enough smoke is a potential concern. Fireplaces, whether gas or wood, are something researchers think about, but those have the benefit of being vented to the outdoors. Your indoor air pollution is also influenced by how much outdoor air comes in, and there’s definitely policies out there trying to reduce outdoor air pollution overall. And to the extent that you clean up the outdoor air, you’re getting less that’s going to infiltrate indoors. In general, this discussion about indoor air pollution and gas stoves in particular is an overnight phenomenon 50 years in the making. I think it’s important to use this moment as an example to look more holistically at the exposures we face in our everyday environment and think about better ways to address them.
What are some things people can do, especially if you’re in a situation similar to mine, to lessen overall exposure?
Levy: That’s one of the complexities here. When people are talking about this, the narrative sounds like we’re always talking about homeowners who get to decide the investments they’re gonna make today in upgrading their kitchen, but that doesn’t describe the vast majority of people. In rental units, you don’t have control over the technologies that are there. And there’s no requirement for stoves to be vented to the outdoors. Window opening is often the only thing that you have at your disposal. Cooking on the back burner gives a little bit less exposure than cooking on the front burner. Keeping those who are potentially most vulnerable [to respiratory illness] at a greater distance away is also important. I think it’s inappropriate to place the burden on individuals to figure this stuff out. So, better policies and structures need to start with strategies that get stoves venting to the outdoors, knowing that they’re not all going to get swapped out tomorrow.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
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Yesterday the New York Times published a comprehensive piece detailing Apple’s failure to effectively pursue safer working conditions in its overseas manufacturing plants.
Although the article could apply to virtually every tech company – most of them work with Foxconn – Apple was the main target, probably because it’s a company with such strong values, that you would expect more from them.
To reply to the allegations, Tim Cook sent an email to his troops, ensuring that Apple cares about every worker in its supply chain…
9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman got his hands on the email sent to Apple employees, which we have copied below:
As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.
For the many hundreds of you who are based at our suppliers’ manufacturing sites around the world, or spend long stretches working there away from your families, I know you are as outraged by this as I am. For the people who aren’t as close to the supply chain, you have a right to know the facts.
Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain. As we reported earlier this month, we’ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers. We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people.
At the same time, no one has been more up front about the challenges we face. We are attacking problems aggressively with the help of the world’s foremost authorities on safety, the environment, and fair labor. It would be easy to look for problems in fewer places and report prettier results, but those would not be the actions of a leader.
Earlier this month we opened our supply chain for independent evaluations by the Fair Labor Association. Apple was in a unique position to lead the industry by taking this step, and we did it without hesitation. This will lead to more frequent and more transparent reporting on our supply chain, which we welcome. These are the kinds of actions our customers expect from Apple, and we will take more of them in the future.
We are focused on educating workers about their rights, so they are empowered to speak up when they see unsafe conditions or unfair treatment. As you know, more than a million people have been trained by our program.
To those within Apple who are tackling these issues every day, you have our thanks and admiration. Your work is significant and it is changing people’s lives. We are all proud to work alongside you.
I really commend Tim Cook for this reply. It’s something we would have never seen under Steve Jobs’ reign. Tim’s answer was very well laid out. It was clear, honest, and it shows the willingness to make things better, and not just sit back hoping people will forget about this tomorrow.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think Apple is doing enough? What can they do to make this better?
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