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How to reduce bias in hiring

In the U.S. and the European Union, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of race, color, religion, age or sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy). Employers can't require photos or ask questions about personal information on an application.

But bias is still possible. Studies in the U.S. have shown that "ethnic-sounding" names can reduce by half the likelihood of being called for an interview, compared to applicants with "white" names.

Making learning a lifelong habit

According to The Harvard Business Review (HBR), lifetime learners consider learning as a source of personal and professional fulfillment. The Economist recently argued that with all the disruptions in the modern economy, particularly technology, ongoing skill development is key to maintaining professional relevance.

Learning must become a habit, and so demands careful cultivation. First, developing a learning habit requires you to articulate the outcomes you'd like to achieve. Would you like to reinvigorate your conversations and intellectual activity by reading a variety of new topics? Are you looking to master a specific subject?

Based on those choices, set realistic goals, such as reading a book per week or studying English for thirty minutes a day. With goals in hand, develop a learning community, such as book clubs and writing groups.

Visuals: Researchers in the world

For years researchers argued about the "Nature vs Nurture" question. Is a person talented because they were born that way, or did people and circumstances in their environment cause them to develop certain skills?

While this question stays open, there is little doubt that living conditions do matter. Could Steve Jobs have created Apple if he was born in a village in Africa? How much new technology or how many groundbreaking discoveries are we losing because talented children in poor areas don't have access to adequate education?

Please have a look at the graph below and discuss what you see with your teacher.

Women artists: Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama (1929– ) is considered by some to be the greatest Japanese artist of our times. Although her initial training was in the traditional nihonga art style, she became frustrated with it and wanted a change. She wrote to Georgia O'Keeffe, who encouraged her to move to New York. The Avant-Garde scene was thriving at the time, and Kusama fell right in with it. Her art became provocative, pushing the edges of what was considered "acceptable". She staged public sex, painting nude people with her signature polka-dots. Her art was, and is, psychedelic.

Kusama's images of dots and lines stem from hallucinations caused by mental illness. Her illness eventually compelled her to return to Japan. She has been very open about her mental health struggles. She says art is what keeps her alive.

The Himalayas—taller every year

The Himalayan mountain range is nearly 25 million years old, yet it is one of the youngest mountain ranges in the world. It was formed as a result of the collision of two tectonic plates over millions of years. The Indo-Australian plate is presently colliding against the Eurasian plate at a speed of 67 millimetres per year, which means that the Himalayan mountains, the tallest in the world, are getting even taller.

The Himalayas were named by joining two Sanskrit words that mean “Abode of Snow.” People in Nepal call Mount Everest Sagarmatha, which means “Goddess of the Universe.” Mount Everest derived its English name in honour of Sir George Everest, a 19th-century Surveyor General of India.

Video: Portals link the world

A public art installation makes it possible for people far apart to interact with each other. The ongoing project, "Portal—a Bridge to the United Planet", aims to create a sense of unity among people in different countries. 

Watch the short video below and listen for the answers to these questions:

  1. When did the project start?

  2. When the news of the portal "instantly went viral", how many people did it reach?

  3. How big is the portal?

  4. How does it work?

  5. Which two countries were connected first?

  6. How many countries do they hope to connect in the future?

Dealing with slow periods at work

According to The Harvard Business Review, most people are able to focus on getting work done during the peak, but how we handle slow periods also has a dramatic impact on our overall productivity and happiness. 

When the pressure is off, we might over-invest in email, or focus on unimportant items or errands, thinking we have plenty of time. To counteract this tendency, aim to start each day with a clear plan. You have to be more deliberate about planning than you would during a busy period.

Slower times at work present an opportunity to enhance your entire life, if you take advantage of them. Consider professional development activities that you would not normally have time for and add them into your daily plans. These might include attending an industry conference, brushing up your CV or taking an English class online. You are making an investment of time that will either help you in your current job or open up future doors.

Video: Cultural gaps crash planes

Watch this short video where Malcolm Gladwell answers the question, "What is the one thing people need to know about how cultural differences cause planes to crash?"  Then discuss it with your teacher, or write about it using the discussion questions below.