Points of Progress: Racial minorities are majority of new hires, and more

Why We Wrote This

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A roundup of positive stories to inspire you.

Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP
Representatives from Verizon and Goodwill talk with people visiting a job and resource fair in Atlanta on Aug. 14, 2019. Companies are increasing their outreach for hiring racial minorities.

United States

Women from minority backgrounds are entering the workforce at such high levels that, for the first time, the majority of new hires in the U.S. are people of color. Economists credit a hot labor market for employers widening their hiring horizon, but research from The Washington Post also suggests a change in attitudes. Companies are increasing apprenticeship opportunities and outreach to racial minorities, and demands for Spanish-speaking jobs have doubled since 2017. (The Washington Post)

Finland

A grocery chain of 900 stores launched a two-year campaign to reduce food waste. Every night at 9 o’clock, S-market takes 60% off the price of food that is about to expire, as part of the campaign. One-third of food produced around the world – valued at $680 billion – is wasted annually, according to the United Nations. A climate scientist told The New York Times that most people think of climate change as an energy-related issue, but 8% to 10% of carbon emissions come from food waste. An S-market executive says the cut-rate program is good for the company’s bottom line. (The New York Times)

New Zealand

ReBicycle EkeRua gives refugees the freedom to roam. Based in Wellington, the charity is teaching newly settled refugees how to ride bikes. Refugees might spend up to three hours each day walking to and from English lessons. So far, the charity has provided more than 200 donated bikes. Volunteers say teaching adults to ride can take days or weeks, rather than hours for children. Because the demand for bike riding lessons is so high, there is a need for more volunteers who can teach. The charity also widened its reach: Locals who cannot afford bikes are now eligible, too. (The Guardian)

Thailand

The work of investigative journalists led to a crackdown on labor exploitation in a western province of Thailand. Migrant workers from Myanmar weren’t receiving minimum wage in garment factories that produced goods for Bauer Hockey and Starbucks. Within a week of a Thomson Reuters Foundation report, Thailand’s anti-trafficking task force conducted raids, and factory owners must compensate workers within 30 days. Starbucks and Bauer Hockey are investigating further but did not provide comment to Reuters. Although the raids might lead to higher standards, human rights groups would like to see more long-term solutions. (Reuters)

Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Migrant workers from Myanmar test the quality of TV monitors at a factory in Bangkok on July 22, 2019. The government is cracking down on unfair factory wages.

Uganda

A man in southern Uganda is innovating in the straw industry by turning to tradition. Akram Ssemambo’s ancestors used hollow stalks of sedge grass to make drinking straws. To combat single-use plastic straws – an estimated 1 billion are used daily worldwide – Mr. Ssemambo has revived the practice and started a straw company called Our Roots. The process is simple: Cut sedge stalks to size, smooth the rough ends, boil to sanitize, and dry them in the sun. The straws are reusable, and Mr. Ssemambo hopes his 100% organic products will replace 50% of Uganda’s plastic straws within five years. (Deutsche Welle)

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