Tech startups are developing VR programs for diversity and harassment training to increase empathy and reduce intolerance.

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What’s it like to be a worker with a disability? What do you think it feels like to be the sole woman in a room full of male executives or the only person of color in the office? How about the victim of workplace bullying or harassment?

The ability to empathize with those who are different from you can help address unconscious bias, holding stereotypes that are so deeply ingrained you may not be aware you have them or act on them. …


Some barons of industry are building factories that give more to the planet than they take away, saving money and creating more productive spaces for workers in the process.

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Manufacturing may be in decline, but factories still do what they were designed to do 150 years ago: turn raw materials into consumable goods at a maximum profit. In the process, many workers spend long hours in windowless warehouses while machines ingest natural resources and churn out products and waste. Pollution comes with the territory. Annually, U.S. factories discharge 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage and industrial waste into water, emit 3 million tons of toxic chemicals, and consume nearly 16 billion gallons of water per day.

But a handful of business leaders are reinventing the factory to elevate the people inside and respect the environments around them. By adopting the most advanced green building standards, these 21st Century barons of industry are running factories that give more to the planet than they take away. Think sunnier spaces, healthier air, and complete self-sufficiency. These buildings generate their own energy, capture and reuse water, eliminate waste, and use materials harvested from sustainable sources. Surprisingly, this kind of design often doesn’t cost more than traditional facilities and saves money on energy, results in more productive workers, and helps create better, longer-lasting products. …


Executives take heed: A recent survey found workplace aggression, bullying, and harassment are on the upswing. Inaction means lower productivity, poor morale, and higher turnover rates.

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Soon after the presidential election last year, human resources consultant Catherine Mattice Zundel received a pleading call from a Los Angeles law firm: Three paralegals were turning on each other, and it was getting ugly.

Two had voted for Hillary Clinton and the other had voted for Donald Trump. They were shouting over cubicle walls, disrupting the entire office, and regularly meeting with human resources to file grievances about each other. The tension between the longtime colleagues was growing more intense. Like much of the country at the time, they couldn’t get beyond their political differences. …


Experts say a multigenerational workforce can be more productive, smarter, and successful.

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Linda Lewi, a 69-year-old marketing strategist in Boston, has no plans to retire. She’s been at it full time since her junior year of high school and, in the past year and a half, has been consulting with local startups to develop their marketing plans. “I’ve been resilient and flexible, and I’m good at what I do,” she says.

Like Lewi, a small but growing percentage of older workers are staying on the job longer. According to ADP Research Institute, which has been tracking retirement trends since 1996, workers aged 55 and older experienced nearly 5 percent job growth during the first half of 2017 — more than any other age group.

About

Tracy Staedter

Writer and editor covering sustainable technology with a focus on energy, conservation, food and urban resilience.

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