Categories
Florida Sports

Verdugo, Chavis homer to back Perez as Red Sox beat Rays 5-0

By MARK DIDTLER

Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Martin Perez pitched out of trouble all night, and Alex Verdugo and Michael Chavis homered to help the Boston Red Sox stop a four-game skid Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over the slumping Tampa Bay Rays.
Perez (2-1) allowed four hits and three walks, wiggling out of jams for five innings. He struck out four.
The left-hander held Tampa Bay to 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and induced two double-play grounders. The Rays had a man on second with no outs in both the first and fourth.
“Good job, especially when some guys got on base,” Boston manager Ron Roenicke said. “He made some really good pitches. Did a great job putting up five zeros.”
Colten Brewer, Austin Brice, Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman completed a four-hitter.
Tampa Bay has dropped six of seven, scoring 18 runs during that stretch. The Rays (5-7) have trailed in 11 of 12 games this season, including their last 10.
“We wish we had an answer,” manager Kevin Cash said. ì”We need to get going, need to kind of turn it around sooner or later. MartÌn, we’ve faced him enough times and had a fairly solid approach, put him in the hole a couple of times, but the big hit just eluded us.”
Verdugo added to his success against left-handed pitching with a two-run homer off Ryan Yarbrough (0-2) that opened the scoring in the fourth. The left-handed hitter is 38 for 115 (.330) when facing a lefty since the start of the 2019 season.
“That was big,” Roenicke said. “It just doesn’t seem like we have leads at all. So to get a lead there early, and MartÌn threw up a couple more zeros, was huge.”
Christian Vazquez had an RBI single and scored on Chavis’ shot in the sixth that put Boston (4-8) up 5-0.
Chavis finished 3 for 4.
Yarbrough gave up five runs and eight hits in five-plus innings. “Those first five innings, it was one of those days I don’t think I had one clean inning,” Yarbrough said. “It’s still a battle for the most part, trying to get in and out of jams. That sixth inning, it kind of escalated quickly. Frustrating to have those first five innings and give your team a chance to win and not helping yourself in the sixth.”
Yandy Diaz had two hits for the Rays.
TRAINER’S ROOM Red Sox: Third base coach Carlos Febles, who didn’t make the trip after an inconclusive coronavirus test, had a negative test.
Rays: LHP Brendan McKay (coronavirus) threw a two-inning simulated game at the alternate training site.
UP NEXT
Red Sox: After a day off Thursday, the Red Sox start a three-game home series against Toronto on Friday night.
Rays: LHP Blake Snell takes the mound Friday night in the first of a four-game set against the AL East-leading New York Yankees. “There’s no better feeling than beating the Yankees,” Snell said. There will be a pair of seven-inning games in a doubleheader Saturday.

———

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Categories
Florida Sports

Surprising first-place Marlins stay hot, sweep Orioles

By DAVID GINSBURG

AP Sports Writer

BALTIMORE (AP) — Don Mattingly feels like he’s been working all summer, even though his Miami Marlins have played only six games. And lately, the Marlins manager is making every right move for a gritty team that’s overcome a COVID-19 outbreak and a radical roster change to equal the best start in franchise history and grab hold of first place in the NL East.
Five pitchers combined on a four-hitter for Mattingly’s surprising Marlins, who beat the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 Wednesday night for a doubleheader sweep.
Brian Anderson homered in opener, and Miami won 1-0 despite getting only two hits.
After being holed up in a Philadelphia hotel, having 18 players test positive for COVID-19 and going eight days without playing a game, the Marlins have won three straight at Camden Yards to improve their record to 5-1.
So, guess who owns the best winning percentage in the majors? The Marlins, that’s who. It’s impressive stuff, but it sure hasn’t been easy.
“I feel like weíve been playing for half a season,” Mattingly said. “It has been a rough trip as far as what has happened to us. And it has just been a different year in the world and with what is going on in sports. But it’s good to put some wins on the board.”
The sweep kept the Marlins atop the division and earned Mattingly his 281st win as Miami’s manager, tying Jack McKeon’s club record.
In a baseball season complete with new rules and an ever-changing, abbreviated schedule, this doubleheader raised the bar on strange. Not only were both games seven innings apiece, but the Orioles were the home team in the opener and the Marlins served as hosts in the nightcap.
And to top it all, the Marlins are unbeaten since emerging from a coronavirus-prompted layoff that left them with a roster filled with call-ups, free agents and rookies. Miami has allowed a total of one run and 10 hits in those three games at Camden Yards.
“Our pitching has been incredible,” Anderson said. “I don’t know how they go from throwing into a (hotel) mattress to going out and getting big league hitters out like that, but whatever they’re doing we’ve got to keep doing it.”
For sure, this new-look club looks nothing like the team that lost 105 games last year.
“From what I can see, they’ve come out with a lot of energy,” Orioles shortstop JosÈ Iglesias said. “They were cooped up for a week. Regardless, we’ve got to do a better job.”
The Orioles entered this series coming off a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay, but their bats have been silent against a Miami pitching staff that is not considered to be anything close to extraordinary.
“I don’t know what it is. Just one of those funks,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
In the nightcap. Jon Berti hit an RBI double off Asher Wojciechowski (0-2) in the first inning and scored on a fly ball by Jes˙s Aguilar. That proved to be enough offense for the Marlins in a bullpen game managed deftly by Mattingly.
Josh A. Smith started, Brian Moran (1-0) struck out three over one inning and Stephen Tarpley got four outs for his first save.
A bad-hop RBI single by Austin Hays in the sixth ruined Miami’s bid for a third straight shutout. Not that it mattered much.
“I can’t be more proud of these guys, the adversity we have been through, being stuck in the hotel,” Anderson said. “These guys just persevere. In a short season you want to get off to a great start and it just happens to be us right now.”
In the opener, Anderson produced the game’s lone run with an opposite-field drive to right off Alex Cobb (1-1).
Miami starter Elieser Hernandez gave up a one-out double to Chance Sisco in the fifth and Pedro Severino followed with a single before Nick Vincent (1-0) got Hanser Alberto to hit into a double play, ending Baltmore’s only threat.
Tuesday night’s game was originally scheduled for July 29 and the first game of the doubleheader was a makeup for July 30. The Marlins were to serve as the “home” team in the nightcap and on Thursday to make up for two games scheduled in Miami on July 27-28.
ROOKIE LIFE The Marlins’ battle with COVID-19 has cleared the way for two rookies to make their major league debut.
Outfielder Monte Harrison got his first taste of big league ball Tuesday night, and second baseman Eddy Alvarez — a silver medalist U.S. Olympic speedskater in 2014 — joined the fray Wednesday.
Both are still looking for their first hit.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Marlins: OF Matt Joyce, who missed all of summer camp with the coronavirus, said his antibodies tests have come back negative and he continues to observe protocols. Joyce came off the injured list Tuesday.
Orioles: LHP John Means was placed on bereavement list. Hyde was uncertain if Means would be back for his next start, tentatively Sunday in Washington. ìHe’s dealing with a family matter and we’re going to give him some space and time,” Hyde said.
UP NEXT Marlins: Jordan Yamamoto will start on Thursday night.
Orioles: Wade LeBlanc (1-0) makes his third start of the season after turning in a solid performance against Tampa Bay on Saturday. ——— More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Categories
Florida Sports

Magic’s Gordon hurt, Raptors continue to roll in 109-99 win

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Fred VanVleet had 21 points and 10 assists, and the Toronto Raptors held on to beat the Orlando Magic 109-99 on Wednesday night.
Pascal Siakam added 15 points and Kyle Lowry finished with eight points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
Toronto (49-18) has won its last seven dating back to before the hiatus and three straight games since the restart.
VanVleet said the Raptors knew early on that things were clicking for them.
“Just a rhythm and a flow, and everybody locked in and keying into the game plan,” he said. “I thought we started off strong, had a drop off and then got back to it late. We’ve been playing with each other long enough to kind of know when we’re in sync.”
The Magic (32-37) missed an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot following Washington’s loss to Philadelphia earlier Wednesday. But they maintained their 7 1/2-game lead over the Wizards for the eighth seed with four seeding games to play.
They also may be without forward Aaron Gordon for an undetermined amount of time after he left the game in the third quarter with a left hamstring injury after taking a hard foul from Lowry.
Gordon was going up for a dunk and was hit on the arm as Lowry went to strip the ball. Gordon’s left leg extended high in the air before he crashed to the floor and immediately reached for his left hamstring. He was able to shoot the ensuing free throws but then struggled to run down the court. He went to the locker room on the next timeout.
Lowry received a Flagrant 1 foul after a review by officials. Gordon had nine points and 11 rebounds at the time of his injury. Magic coach Steven Clifford said he hadn’t seen the replay of the foul and didn’t known the extent of the injury.
“Obviously, officials didn’t think it was the right play because they called a flagrant,” Clifford said.”But, obviously, it would be a huge hit for us.”
Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross each had 15 points for Orlando.
Despite Gordon’s exit, the Magic cut into the Raptors’ 20-point halftime lead, trimming it to 78-71 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
But that would be as close as they would get to rest of the way.
The Raptors spaced the floor well early, building a 24-8 lead in the opening period. They also were active on the defensive end, limiting Orlando to 5-of-20 shooting (0 for 9 from 3-point line). Orlando finished the quarter with 11 points, a season low by a Toronto opponent.
Toronto carried its momentum into the second quarter, taking a 51-30 lead late on the second of back-to-back 3-pointers by Lowry. The Raptors held a 55-35 advantage at halftime.
Despite having a chance to clinch the second seed in the East on Friday against the Celtics, coach Nick Nurse said the Raptors aren’t thinking that far ahead.
“I don’t know. Nothing seems to have a super high level of unimportance or importance,’ Nurse said. “We want to play and we want to play to win that game. We’re going to play our guys and we’re going to play to win.
“Whether it’s a high-leverage game or a little less leverage game, we’re going to try to treat it the same from a prep standpoint and an effort standpoint.”
TIP-INS
Raptors: Patrick McCaw (left knee soreness) and Oshae Brissett (right knee soreness) both missed their third straight game.
Magic: The 35 points they scored in the first half were a low for any half this season. Ö Michael Carter-Williams sat with a sore left foot.
UP NEXT
Raptors: Play Celtics on Friday.
Magic: Play 76ers on Friday.
———
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Categories
Florida Headlines

Florida tops 500K virus cases as testing resumes after storm

By FREIDA FRISARO and CURT ANDERSON
Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida surpassed 500,000 coronavirus cases Wednesday as testing ramped up following a temporary shutdown of some sites because of Tropical Storm Isaias, state officials said.
A long line of cars waited outside Hark Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Wednesday morning for a coronavirus testing site to reopen after being closed because of the storm.
Florida reported 225 new deaths Wednesday, bringing its seven-day average of daily reported deaths to a high of 185, behind Texas with 197. Florida’s rate is approaching a quarter of that seen in New York at its peak in mid-April.
The number of people treated in hospitals statewide for the coronavirus continued a two-week decline, with 7,622 patients late Wednesday morning — a decrease of 175 from the previous day and down from highs of 9,500 two weeks ago.
The Florida Department of Health reported 5,409 new coronavirus cases Wednesday. Overall, Florida’s reported 502,739 cases ranks second to California, with more than 527,000 cases, and above Texas with more than 466,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Also Wednesday, the Florida Association of Counties announced that a county commissioner in Liberty County, 75-year-old Dexter Barber, has died from the coronavirus. The organization said Barber is the first county commissioner in Florida to die from the disease.
“Commissioner Barber’s death reaffirms the seriousness of this pandemic our community faces,” Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White said in a statement. “Again, I ask that everyone do their part to stop the spread of this disease and keep each other safe.”
Liberty County is west of Tallahassee in a rural part of Florida.
The Hard Rock site, which is now offering antigen testing, briefly shut down Wednesday because of lightning in the area. Testing resumed once the weather cleared.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week announced that quicker antigen testing, with results in about 15 minutes, would be offered at the stadium and at Marlins Park.
“Obviously if you are somebody that is symptomatic and you don’t get your result back for 7 days that is not helpful. For asymptomatic test takers, if it takes 7 days then the test is basically useless at that time,” DeSantis said at a news conference.
The antigen tests reveal whether someone is currently infected with COVID-19. The site is offering these tests to children between 5 and 17, and for anyone 65 and up, regardless of symptoms. Anyone in the 18 to 65 age group who is experiencing symptoms can also be tested at the site, which also has self-swab testing for those 18 to 64 who aren’t experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, according to officials.
Antigen testing reveals whether a person is currently infected with COVID-19. It differs from antibody testing because once the infection is gone, antigens won’t be present.
Miami TV stations showed video of long lines outside the stadium on Wednesday morning.
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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
———
AP photographer Wilfredo Lee contributed to this story.

 

Categories
Florida Headlines

Pence tours pregnancy center, fires up GOP base in Florida

By TAMARA LUSH
Associated Press
CLEARWATER. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence visited Florida’s Tampa Bay area on Wednesday, firing up the Republican party’s conservative base while touring a pregnancy center, speaking at a church and making an appearance before a packed ballroom.
Pence’s visit highlighted his anti-abortion and conservative Christian stance, courting religious voters in part by seeking to frame Democrats as a threat to religious freedom. He made the trip with his daughter, Charlotte Pence Bond.
He told about 200 people in the  ballroom at the Hilton in Clearwater that during this election, America is at a crossroads between “a society grounded in freedom” versus one grounded in “socialism.”
“The choice we face is whether America will remain America,” he said.
Florida GOP Congressman Gus Bilirakis spoke before the vice president came onstage, warning against votes in the fall for Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Pence came on and hammered Biden for his views on cutting funding for law enforcement, claiming that he said he would cut police funding.
“We will always back the blue,” Pence said to raucous applause. “We’re not going to defund the police. Not now, not ever.”
Pence also said Biden supports “abortion on demand,” claiming that Biden supports late term abortion.
Biden has said he supports redirecting some police funding to address mental health or to change the prison system. “On June 8, Biden’s campaign released a statement explaining he does not support defunding police forces.
Earlier in the day, Pence toured A Woman’s Place Medical Clinic — a pregnancy center with an anti-abortion stance.
According to the Susan B. Anthony List, a group opposed to abortion that hosted Pence on Wednesday, he is the first sitting vice president to visit a pregnancy center. George W. Bush visited one post-presidency, and Ronald Reagan praised pregnancy centers.
Pence also attended an anti-abortion event at a church. About 50 people attended, with many dressed in blue “I VOTE PRO-LIFE” T-shirts. He said that if Biden is elected, he would “undo all the progress” the anti-abortion movement has made in the U.S. since the 1973 passage of Roe vs. Wade, which established abortion rights nationwide.
“Life is winning in America,” Pence told the crowd.
Pence said that conservatives should be worried about Democrats electing liberal judges who could rule in favor of abortion rights.
Although far from a certainty, even with increased conservative clout on the Supreme Court, any reversal of Roe would mean abortion policy would revert to the states, and many would be eager to impose bans.
A full-fledged turning back of the clock to 1973 would be unlikely, according to experts.
In a conference call, Florida Democrats criticized Pence’s visit.
“It is not to promote inclusion, it is a political stance to try to get votes and not pay attention to what’s happening in our country — what’s happening to the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, that was meant to help people who need those services, who can afford health care,” said the Rev. Gina Durbin, King of Peace, St. Petersburg. “This current administration does not have the best interests of those who are on the margins.”

 

Categories
Florida Headlines

Cops: Man spit in boy’s face after he refused to remove mask

TREASURE ISLAND (AP) — A Florida man was arrested after confronting a child wearing a mask at a restaurant and spitting in his face when the boy refused to take it off, police said.
Jason Copenhaver approached the child’s table Sunday and asked the boy if he was wearing a mask, according to Treasure Island police. Authorities did not release the boy’s age.
The 47-year-old allegedly told the child to take it off. He then grabbed the boy’s hand tightly and put his face next to the child’s, telling the boy he now had the coronavirus, according to police reports.
“Victim stated that (Copenhaver) was in such close proximity that spit particles from (Copenhaver’s) mouth landed in his face,” an officer wrote in the police report.
Restaurant workers asked Copenhaver to sit down, saying he appeared drunk and wasn’t wearing shoes. The police report said he also tried to hit an employee.
The Tampa Bay Times reports he was charged with simple battery and disorderly conduct. He was freed after posting $650 bail.
Police said Copenhaver told them he didn’t know if he had coronavirus and has never been tested.

Categories
Florida Headlines

9-year-old pulls dad to shore after father fractures neck in dive

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — A 9-year-old Florida boy is being hailed a hero for pulling his father from the water after the man fractured his neck in a diving accident.
Young Asaih Williams said he always plays a game in his head when he’s diving with someone. If the other person doesn’t emerge from the water in a set amount of time, then the boy goes in after him.
He’s never had any formal swimming or lifeguard training. It’s just something he does. It ended up saving his dad’s life over the weekend.
The family of five was at Quietwater Beach on Saturday enjoying a day outdoors. Shortly after sunset, the boy convinced his dad Josh to take one last dip in the water.
“All I remember was that he said he broke his neck and he said he was scared,” Asaih said in an interview Wednesday.
His dad emerged on his stomach, unable to turn over. Despite a 100-pound weight difference between the two, Asaih channeled superhuman strength, and turned his dad over to prevent him from drowning.
He then slowly, agonizingly tugged his dad to shore until bystanders came alongside them.
Audrey Williams was further away onshore with the other children, including her 1-year-old daughter.
“Asaih saw that daddy wasn’t coming up as quickly as he should have and he knew something was wrong,” Audrey said. “He flipped him over, because Josh was on his stomach. Asaih flipped him over because he couldn’t move.”
Josh Williams was transported to the hospital with a fractured neck and underwent fusion surgery Monday.
The Pensacola News Journal reported the man’s injuries aren’t expected to be life-altering and he won’t require a wheelchair, but he’s still trying to regain feeling in his arms and legs.
“He’s progressing pretty fast. He lifted his head and sat up in a chair (Tuesday),î his wife said.

Categories
Florida Headlines

No hoopla: Virus upends Trump and Biden convention plans

By BILL BARROW and ZEKE MILLER
Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — At the last minute, President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, are searching for places to impressively yet safely accept their parties’ presidential nominations as the spread of the coronavirus adds fresh uncertainty to the campaign for the White House.
Trump said Wednesday he’s considering giving his Aug. 27 acceptance speech on the grounds of the White House, a move that could violate ethics law. Biden, meanwhile, scrapped plans to accept the Democratic nomination on Aug. 20 in Milwaukee, where the party has spent more than a year planning a massive convention.
Presidential conventions are a staple of American politics and have played out against national traumas as significant as the Civil War and World War II. But the pandemic’s potency is proving to be a tougher obstacle, denying both candidates crucial opportunities to connect with supporters in the final stretch before the Nov. 3 election.
The campaigns are looking for alternative ways to deal with the virus and still reach millions of Americans through television and virtual events. Longtime convention attendees say they’ll miss the traditional festivities even as they acknowledge public health priorities.
“I was looking forward to going to Milwaukee and having a lot of beer and other snacks,” said Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore’s campaign in 2000 and served as Democratic National Committee chair in 2016. But “if you ask a majority of voters, they’d tell you they’re more anxious about when the NFL season starts. What’s best for the public should be best for the politicians at this point.”
Matt Moore, a former South Carolina GOP chairman, has enjoyed several Republican conventions as unifying efforts following bruising primary battles in states like his. But the general election audience, he said, doesn’t see it the same way.
“As long as they can watch it on Facebook, most voters don’t care if the conventions are in Siberia or Sheboygan,” he said.
Trump originally planned to accept the GOP nomination in Charlotte, North Carolina, the largest city in a critical battleground state. But he sparred with Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, who wouldn’t guarantee the state would lift restrictions on large crowds like the scenes inside a presidential convention arena.
Frustrated, Trump declared he’d abandon North Carolina for Republican-run Florida. But then coronavirus cases spiked there and across the Sun Belt, forcing him to retreat again.
In a phone interview with Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday, Trump said the first night of GOP programming would originate from Charlotte but the rest would be shown from various locations, including potentially the White House.
“I’ll probably do mine live from the White House,” Trump said, but he also said it was not locked in.
He provided few other details on the convention whose programming, like its location, has been in flux. Trump said first lady Melania Trump would speak, as well as pro-Trump Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Matt Gaetz of Florida.
Holding such an event at the White House would mark the latest test to both norms and laws prohibiting the use of government property and personnel in campaign activities.
Trump himself is exempted from the Hatch Act, which limits the political activities of federal employees. It also does not cover “rooms in the White House or in the residence of the vice president, which are part of the residence area or which are not regularly used solely in the discharge of official duties.”
Still, the event in the White House complex would surely raise ethical and legal concerns, including for staff members who would be involved.
“If for some reason somebody had difficulty with it, I could go someplace else,” Trump said. “The easiest, least expensive, and I think very beautiful would be live from the White House.”
Trump continued to defend the idea to reporters during a news briefing late Wednesday, again citing costs.
“If I use the White House, we save tremendous amounts of money for the government in terms of security, traveling,” he said.
Biden hasn’t been so publicly reluctant to scale back his convention, expressing doubts about a full arena even before Democratic National Committee officials made the move toward a virtual event.
But those who know him say a lost convention still has to rank as a personal disappointment for a man who calls himself a “tactile politician” and who first sought the presidency in 1988. Biden has been on the convention stage twice as the vice presidential nominee for Barack Obama.
In late April, when Democrats first started acknowledging the likelihood of a drastically altered convention, Biden’s team put together a slickly produced 45-minute show marking the one-year anniversary of his campaign launch. It featured top supporters, video from a year of campaigning, some biographical tidbits about the candidate and then Biden addressing supporters alongside his wife, Jill Biden.
Those kinds of effects and approaches could be repeated even without a traditional convention stage in an arena or stadium.
The major parties have always convened every four years, even in 1864 and 1944 during wrenching wars that affected the entire nation.
However, the political extravaganzas have been declining in practical importance and viewership in recent decades. The modern primary process, developed over the 1960s and 1970s, ended the practice of conventions serving as the proverbial if not literal smoke-filled rooms where nominees were chosen, often taking multiple ballots cast into the wee hours of the morning.
Still, conventions have remained as opportunities for tens of thousands of delegates, elected officials, party bosses, rank-and-file activists and media to gather, even if the nomination vote was a formality.
Nominees have used the affairs to shape their messages and identities for the general electorate. George H.W. Bush came to New Orleans in 1988 to establish a brand separate from his two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice president. Four years later, Gov. Bill Clinton’s campaign unveiled his famous biographical video as he dubbed himself a “boy from Hope,” his Arkansas hometown.
Keynote speakers, chosen by the nominees, have used the convention stage as launchpads, too, most notably when Obama, then a state senator running for the U.S. Senate, took the stage in Boston in 2004. Four years later, he walked out to a full outdoor stadium — a remarkable scene in the annals of presidential conventions — in Denver.
———
Barrow reported from Atlanta.

 

Categories
employment news

Empowering diversity: how to be an ally at the office

Right now, the nature of diversity in our society is at the forefront of conversation for every business out there. How do we help build companies made up of teams that are truly inclusive? And although “diversity” has been a buzzword for a long time, both organizations and individuals are taking a serious, long-overdue look at what that truly means for them. People of color and people from underrepresented groups have often lead this kind of dialogue in the past, but as we look to boost more voices, it’s more important than ever to be a good ally.

Allies are people who are not necessarily a member of a traditionally underrepresented group, but actively work to support that group. In the workplace, that can feel like an extra uncomfortable conversation, with everyone frequently trying to maintain a professional level of distance from the hard social questions of the day and to avoid awkwardness. Yet collectively, we’ve reached a moment where avoiding the conversation is no longer helpful or possible. If you’re looking for ways to be a better ally in your own workplace, there are several ways to go about it.

Share your platform

When companies try to improve diversity, initially it often takes the form of getting feedback from employees. While all employees have a valuable perspective, one of the primary things you can do as an ally is to ask yourself, “Am I the best person to be speaking to this?” If someone from an underrepresented group would be able to speak more fully to the issue at hand, it’s right to yield the mic to your colleague.

For example, if you’re asked about your perspective on gender issues but you’re part of the majority gender group in the office, pass it off to someone who might have more direct insight. “I do see a lot of inequality here, but I think my colleague T has an interesting perspective on this.” Or if you’re asked to be the lead on something and know that a colleague would be an equal (or better) fit, suggest that person instead. (Of course, don’t blindside your colleagues by putting them on the spot if they’re reluctant. It’s better to discuss it with them beforehand, if possible.)

Be the mediator

We all know that any given workplace is made up of many different personalities—some more verbal and forceful than others. In meetings or other discussions, it’s not uncommon to see some voices dominate, while others are more content to hang back or hesitate. A good ally keeps an eye on all the voices and helps to amplify voices that might not otherwise be heard. Part of that is being a cheerleader: “V made a good point about the sales potential. V, can you expand more on how that would work?”

Being a mediator helps ensure that voices that might otherwise be marginalized are heard and that different perspectives are allowed into the conversation. And if you’re not really a “speak up in the public arena” person yourself, you can still be an ally—invite people to meetings where they can offer insight and gain recognition or give them the chance to speak in other ways (like email) by elevating their voice to people who might not otherwise know them.

Advocate for better representation

“See something, say something.” It’s a cliché, but it’s also a very effective way to be an ally. If you see that someone or a group isn’t being represented in a conversation or decisionmaking process, speak up. The exclusion may not be intentional. It’s possible that the powers that be will say, “Hey, you’re right, we should definitely have X in this conversation.” Or if the exclusion was intentional on some level, this adds public accountability. Those in charge will need to justify their decision to exclude a group from this discussion. Decisions that can affect people of all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, races, ages, religions, and physical abilities should have stakeholders across as many of those groups as possible, providing their perspective.

Being an ally goes beyond a hashtag or an “I’m with you” acknowledgment. It may not even be easy, because it involves taking a potentially uncomfortable look at the privilege and exclusion that exists in a place you go every day—and even within yourself. The more active you are in assessing your own behavior and working hard to boost others, the more you’re helping your workplace to be a better and more diverse place.

The post Empowering diversity: how to be an ally at the office appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

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employment news

5 reasons you should invest in employee development now

With everything so uncertain right now, it may be hard to see how your organization moves forward and where you should be focusing your resources. Many companies are concerned about the impacts of coronavirus and the economic downturn on their bottom lines, and the idea of focusing precious time and money on employee development may not be top of mind. Still, your organization should consider investing in your employee development right now. Let’s take a closer look at why.

1. It’s building your organization’s future

Honestly, many workers are just happy to have a job right now, and many companies are content to stay afloat while navigating choppy waters. However, things will likely calm down soon, and as the new normal settles in you’ll want to be prepared with the best workforce possible. Focusing on employee retention and development takes advantage of questions you’re likely already asking, such as what kind of leadership is working for your organization, what you need from your employees, and what kind of changes are coming your way.

2. It improves your employer brand

Employee-focused organizations get more positive feedback from current and former employees. In a world where online word of mouth can be everything, this is how you appeal to the best talent. When your team knows that you’re invested in their needs and their development, it builds good word-of-mouth and keeps great employees from seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Employee retention is one of the biggest challenges for any organization. If you’re retaining your best employees and keeping churn low by meeting employee needs and expectations, it enhances your reputation as a great place to work.

3. It gives you more insight into your employees’ potential

Part of any employee development program is assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your current employee pool and identifying both areas for improvement and for the potential for promotion. This legwork helps build a pipeline of internal candidates for promotions or for open positions within the company.

Similarly, knowing any weak spots improves your fortunes as well—better to nip any issues in the bud at an early stage, when intervention can help you put the right people in the right places or move people away from areas where they’re not going to perform well.

4. Engaged employees are productive employees

Employee boredom or restlessness is rarely a good thing in any organization. It either hurts productivity as employees start to become emotionally distant from their jobs, or leads to quality employees looking elsewhere for a more satisfying job. The feedback and data you get during an employee development audit and implementation are essential to help you find ways to keep employees engaged and invested in the organization’s success.

Training programs, skill development programs, and asking employees for feedback are all ways to keep your workers from feeling disengaged or stagnant in their daily work.

5. Employee development makes good financial sense

Hiring is typically one of the biggest resource investments for any organization—searching for talent, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding are intricate processes that involve many touchpoints and significant costs. Having in-house talent you can use to fill leadership roles (or lateral roles in the company) helps cut down on the external hiring processes that you would otherwise need to do.

Whether you’re trying to attract new talent to your changed organizational landscape or keep the great employees you already have, a strong employee development program can help you get where you need to be—both in the short term and the long term. The time and attention you focus on growing employee skill sets and supporting their potential are some of the most important strategic tools you have as a hiring professional.

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