Walmart Revolutionizes Its Training with Virtual Reality

​A quiet virtual reality revolution is occurring at Walmart. Since 2017, when the company began using virtual reality headsets in its training centers—called “Walmart Academies”—Walmart has used the technology to improve the employee experience, better assess workers’ skills and present new ways of training staff.

According to Andy Trainor, vice president of learning at Walmart, virtual reality in the retail environment makes a lot of sense, especially in stores that are open 24 hours a day. Why?

“Because you don’t have the opportunity to train after hours and you don’t want to disrupt your customers on the floor,” he said. “Virtual reality allows you to artificially create scenarios that you can’t recreate on the sales floor in a way that associates can learn in a safe environment.”

With this in mind, Walmart is using virtual reality, otherwise known as VR, in multiple ways, such as preparing employees for the commotion when customers swarm stores on Black Friday and evaluating how workers respond to angry shoppers. Additionally, VR is being used to ascertain which employees have the skills to fill middle management positions.

What Walmart executives have found is that VR works especially well when rolling out new technology and processes.

“We used VR to train associates on Pickup Towers, which are 15-foot vending machines that allow customers to pick up online orders,” Trainor said.

Since using VR, Walmart has seen improvements in employee test scores from training sessions, and the technology allows the company to introduce new training programs. 

“When we used the Oculus Rift VR headset in the classroom, we noticed an increase in test scores between 5 percent and 10 percent,” he said. “We are starting to replace some global learning management system modules that can take 30 to 45 minutes and transitioning this to a three- to five-minute module in the virtual reality environment.”

According to company executives, as of February, 10,000 of Walmart’s 1.2 million employees have taken skills management assessments using VR. Later this year, Walmart plans to train over 1 million employees across 4,000 stores using the standalone headset.

Trainor said Walmart’s HR organization helped to develop the training. Now that the company has rolled out VR to every store, HR professionals at each store will manage the devices and facilitate the training.

“It’s important to bring HR partners along the journey so they can see the benefits first hand and become an advocate for this new way of educating associates,” he said.

Align VR with Business Goals

HR managers looking to use virtual reality in their training programs shouldn’t only consider how the technology can improve employee training, but should also consider how the technology can strengthen the company’s overall business objectives. They should also think about partnering with a virtual reality vendor for at least two years, said Derek Belch, chief executive officer of STRIVR, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based company that designed Walmart’s virtual reality training program.

“You have to learn what this technology is and what it isn’t, what it does and what it does not do,” Belch said. “HR managers have to think about implementing the technology in the right way. You can’t just whip up a piece of content and put it in a room and hope someone uses it.  That is just a recipe for disaster. We are seeing a lot of companies, for lack of a better term, tinker with this and they are not getting real business results.”

Research from SuperData, a Nielsen company, estimates that 71 percent of companies using VR use the technology for training.

At Fidelity Investments Inc., VR headsets are used to train new workers about empathy. These employees are guided through a virtual phone call with a Fidelity “customer” going through a financial crisis. At UPS, HTC Vive VR headsets are used to help drivers identify potential hazards while “driving” on a virtual road. American Airlines uses VR to acquaint new crew members with safety procedures before they start their jobs.

Don’t Neglect Human Interaction 

Although using VR to train employees is in its very early stages, there is huge value in using VR to train employees, said Sarah Brennan, CEO and principal of Accelir Insights, a Milwaukee-based HR technology consulting firm. Brennan predicts that VR will have a significant impact on hiring and onboarding staff.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing the Employee Onboarding and Assimilation Process]

“I would not be surprised to see VR being used for hiring,” Brennan said. “Before candidates take a job, they can really understand what it would be like to do the job. They’ll get a better sense of what it feels like to be in a busy kitchen, or what it feels like to be behind a desk when you are getting yelled at by a customer.”

HR managers need to be aware that in some extreme cases—like preparing soldiers for what they might see in war zones or coaching emergency workers for what they might encounter in a terrorist attack—workers using VR need additional support, she said.

“A lot of things could go wrong, and my fear would be that we jump too far to relying only on the technology,” Brennan said. “There needs to be the communication and the opportunity for questions and interactions with another person. Managers have to make sure that they take care of the whole person. Don’t assume that the technology can handle it all.”

Nicole Lewis is a freelance journalist based in Miami. She covers business, technology and public policy.

Lead-Centric Apps and Data Challenges

In his almost two decades working on the data front lines, Garth Moulton has seen all the ‘next big things’, all the massive successes and spectacular failures, all the fly-by-night companies, all the data hucksters and charlatans, and all the twists and turns in the evolution of data-driven sales and marketing. Moulton’s had a front row seat in watching countless companies build products and solutions offering everything from lead scoring and qualification to predictive analytics and micro-segmentation, with each striving to deliver actionable intelligence to their sales and marketing clients.

As co-founder of (which sold to in 2010) and Pipl’s SVP of Business Development, Moulton understands as well as anyone, the inherent challenges faced by martech companies offering data-powered products and solutions designed for sales and marketing teams. He’s also all too familiar with the struggles and frustration sales and marketing leaders have with the data they rely on to make smart, strategic decisions.

The modern, hyper-personalized approach to marketing and consultative selling requires teams to have intimate knowledge of their audiences and a pulse on every lead and customer touchpoint. This approach requires clean, actionable, accurate data.

And, if his time with Jigsaw taught Moulton anything, it’s that sales and marketing outreach is only as good as the data informing decisions and actions—and good data can be hard to find.

If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Do It

Data-powered martech companies, like AccuData, GetProfiles, and Lead Genius collect raw data, and enrich and enhance it to create insights into customers and prospects and empower marketing and sales teams to better target their outreach.

Unfortunately, just making data available isn’t enough—to be valuable and actionable, data also needs to be accurate. And it’s not easy— Pipl is creating and collecting data at a scale never seen before.

As the amount of data collection increases, the accuracy of the data decreases. The tools marketers and salespeople used to confirm, update or enhance their data, like credit card and address validation services, no longer suffice.

Not only are we dealing with massive volumes of information, but new types of information—unstructured chat logs, support tickets and social media feeds. How do we gauge its accuracy?

“You may have millions of records, but the profiles are missing key data points or contain incorrect information. Acquiring good data is only half the battle, because it ages at a terrific rate as people change jobs,” Moulton said. “Either way, it’s a huge challenge for these companies and their customers.”

You’re Only as Good as Your Data

Years of being sold data solutions that have failed to live up to their promises have left marketing and sales leaders skeptical of data companies’ claims.

They’re weary of investing in solutions that fail to fuel potential business opportunities or prevent marketing from creating and implementing personalized, account-based marketing (ABM) strategies because the data has erroneous, outdated, or partial information (usually caused by human error, a bad data import, or lack of data hygiene standards).

The unfortunate truth? Martech companies are judged on their ability to deliver complete, accurate, and timely leads, despite these difficulties. The good news? Pipl is uniquely qualified to help martech solve their biggest data problems and give them the edge within their competitive landscapes.

Global Coverage, Exceptional Accuracy

Traditionally, martech companies have had to choose between a) data that was accurate, but lacking the coverage they needed; or b) had high coverage, but data was missing or not available. You shouldn’t have to choose.

“Pipl provides data to the lead gen apps that provide information to the CRMs, marketers, and salespeople,” said Moulton. “We’re accountable to them for the accuracy and cleanliness of our data.”

We have compiled records for 3.5 billion people globally, from millions of publicly available data sources including public records, business listings, marketing lists, phone directories, crowd-sourced data, and more. Pipl provides superior global coverage and exceptionally accurate identity profiles with data from myriad sources, including:

  • Data Suppliers: We purchase publicly available information from a wide array of global providers and work with them to thoroughly refine, verify, and test it.
  • Crawled Data: This is information that is discovered as our search engine crawls the web. It, too, is data that is available publicly, like information from a LinkedIn or Facebook profile.
  • Inferred Data: Information gleaned from our purchased and crawled data. For example, a phone number can allow us to infer the country, state, or city of a prospect or client.
  • Like Sources: Determine whether additional information about a person currently in Pipl’s index exists elsewhere on the web and our partner’s APIs. This allows us to more deeply enrich our records with information not previously available.

We aggregate it, clean it, and enrich it to provide the most comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date account and contact data.

Secret Sauce

“It’s all information that’s publicly available,” Moulton said, “packaged in a way that allows you to have a more complete view of your customers or prospects and make smarter decisions about how you market and sell to them.”

Pipl’s proprietary technology, our secret sauce, uses robust statistical models and data-rich algorithms to accurately match any piece of data about a person — name, email address, phone number, or social media username — to a comprehensive profile which includes professional, social, demographic, and contact information.

“We can deliver a comprehensive profile on someone from a single data point like an email or social media handle,” Moulton said, “even if you transpose a phone number or misspell the name.”

“Our search engine constantly crawls the web and offline data sources so updates to our information are made dynamically,” he said.

All of our people information features email account age and metadata with first and last seen dates. The freshness of our data gives you confidence in knowing your customers are receiving the most up-to-date information available.

How do we do it?

Our developer-friendly People Data API allows you to add a rich layer of people information to your applications. You can choose the level of data you want your query to return—contact, social, and business—so you’re only paying for the data needed for the particular function within your application. For example, you can use the Contact-level API key for queries which only need to return basic contact information – name, gender, age, address & landline. Whereas in situations when you need all the available information about a person, you can use the Business-level API Key to return all the basic contact information PLUS social usernames, images, associates, social profile URLs, work history, educational background, mobile phone, and email address. This gives you full flexibility to mix and match API keys within your applications to get the data you need and optimize your spend.

Integrating the People Data API is quick and simple. You can choose a client library – Python, Ruby, Java, PHP & C#.Net – for implementation in your preferred language. Before you get started, you can run a test query with our Live Demo or run a Data Coverage test. Once you’ve integrated our API into your code you can use demo API keys for further testing. And, all along the way, we offer unmatched customer support from integration to code to troubleshooting.

The Bottom Line

Together, Pipl can help martech companies help their users to:

  • Make more informed marketing and sales decisions
  • Find and connect with the right people
  • Engage in more productive sales conversations
  • Create highly targeted, multi-channel campaigns with personalized messages that provide a better experience and higher response rates
  • Simplify form fills to increase conversion rates
  • Infer data from existing fields such as area code, city, state, and country to create more precise customer segments

Getting to Know You

As Moulton sees it, personalized marketing is continuing to grow and will require sales teams and marketers to know their customers more intimately than ever before. He also knows they need great data to do it.  

“These [martech] companies may offer fantastic solutions for ABM, customer intelligence and market segmentation,” Moulton said. “But, unless you’re working with good, clean data, none of that matters.”

Pipl has the expertise to assist marketing technology companies in solving the biggest data dilemmas and deliver complete, accurate, and up-to-date information to their end-users.

Ready to learn more? Reach out to one of our Pipl people today.

The post Lead-Centric Apps and Data Challenges appeared first on Pipl.

Are You Dating Someone Who’s Married?

Author: PeopleFinders on July 19th, 2019

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For some people, dating is exclusively casual, something that you do to have fun. However, many people are looking for a long-term relationship in their dating life, someone with whom they can share the rest of their life.

But in that case, what if the person you’re dating has already found a long-term partner? Although there are affair websites and people looking to hook up with other married individuals, there’s a more sinister form of affair where the married person doesn’t disclose that marriage to their new partner.

Why do this? Simply, the immorality and danger of engaging in such a relationship can be exciting to some people.

When the truth comes out about this kind of relationship, it’s bound to destroy much more than just that person’s marriage. As one of the people being lied to, you may feel awful knowing your partner kept such a secret from you for that long.

You may feel as though it’s partially your fault. And, especially if you’re morally opposed to affairs, you can have a crisis of conscience.

Finding out the truth at the beginning is the best way to avoid these problems. What are some signs that could indicate your partner is married?

They might be:

  • Chatting with you at strange times
  • Never letting you meet their family or friends
  • Being distant during holidays and other special occasions
  • Paying for things with cash

Only Chatting at Strange Times

A married person tends to spend their spare time with their family and/or spouse in the evenings or on the weekends. If your mate can only talk to you late in the evening or during business hours on weekdays, there might be something fishy going on.

Even if your partner isn’t married, he or she may be catfishing you or otherwise involved in tricking you. Try to set up a voice or video chat on your time, and see what they say.

You’re Never Able to Meet Your Partner’s Friends

Sure, it may take a little bit of time before you’re comfortable enough with each other to meet your extended circle of friends. However, eventually, you should start meeting some of the people in your partner’s inner circle. If you’ve started introducing your mate to your friends, but he or she doesn’t seem interested in doing the same, there’s probably something wrong.

It’s especially suspicious if your partner makes excuses as to why you can’t meet the other friends. It could be that your partner is worried that word will get back to a spouse.

Strangely Distant During the Holidays

The holidays are times to be around your family. If your partner is suspiciously absent around those times, it could mean that he or she can’t get away from a spouse and family responsibilities. The holidays that you should be most suspicious of are Christmas and Thanksgiving, as they’re generally considered multi-day holidays, and many people take family trips during these times.

Almost Always Pay in Cash

Sure, bad credit could be the issue. But paying in cash for everything is pretty rare this day and age. It may very well relate to someone covering their tracks. By using cash, there’s no paper trail and no reason to answer to a spouse who has equal access to a bank account or credit card statement.

If you notice a lot of cash exchanging hands when you’re out with your partner, it could be time to get suspicious.

How Can I Tell for Sure?

There are a few other ways to tell for sure if you’re dating someone who’s married. Obviously, you can do some searching on social media. Or try to get in contact with your partner’s friends; you can consult a public records search site like PeopleFinders to try and verify their relatives, friends and other known associates.


When worrying about cheating in a relationship, most people think about someone else cheating on them. They rarely recognize that they could, in fact, be someone’s cheating accomplice. If you want to make sure that your partner doesn’t have a spouse, do a little research first. After all, you can’t necessarily expect your partner to come clean about it. Make sure you have the knowledge you need to confront a partner with incriminating evidence, or to break it off before things go too far.

For more information on ways to deal with cheating and other relationship challenges, be sure to read the PeopleFinders blog.

Image attribution: terovesalainen –

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A Q&A with Lee Jourdan, Chief Diversity Officer at Chevron

Chevron, a global energy corporation involved in the oil, natural gas and geothermal energy industries, is building a different kind of energy source of its own—a diverse talent pipeline.

The 141-year-old company partners with colleges and universities, including historically black schools such as Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala. It created the University Partnerships and Association Relations program to support higher education globally with scholarships, grants, funding for faculty positions, department gifts and laboratory upgrades. 

In 2018, Chevron received a 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for the 14th consecutive year. The index ranks U.S. companies’ commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workplace equality. That same year, the National Business Inclusion Consortium named Chevron among the top 30 U.S. companies for its diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts among the LGBT community, women, people of color and people with disabilities.

SHRM Online spoke with Leland T. “Lee” Jourdan—the company’s chief diversity officer since 2018—about the company’s D&I initiatives. He has been in the energy industry since 1983 and at Chevron for 16 years.                                               
Lee Jourdan, Chevron.jpgHis comments have been edited for brevity and clarity and to include additional information from Chevron.

SHRM Online: The World Institute on Disability recognized your company in 2017 for its long-term leadership around employee disability issues. Please tell us about that.  

Jourdan: We’re working on a neurodiversity program in IT to attract folks in the high-performing autism spectrum. We are in the process of defining intern and full-time roles, outlining training requirements and identifying employees who will work with participants. We expect to begin the interview process in the third quarter of 2019.

ENABLED is one of our employee networks, and its members make sure we’ve got facilities and operations in place and unbiased hiring. Chevron is piloting ENABLED in California in conjunction with PathPoint, an agency that helps people with disabilities strengthen their workplace abilities.

SHRM Online: What are some of Chevron’s other D&I employee-network efforts?

Jourdan: About 25,000 of our 45,000 employees are members of our networks for people who are Asian; black; Baby Boomers; Filipino; Hispanic; members of generations X, Y and Z; veterans; women; and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

One of our more unique networks is Boola Moort—it means “many people” in the Nyoongar language—dedicated to promoting Aboriginal culture. Australian indigenous people make up about 3 percent of that country’s population. Their representation in the workforce is even smaller, and we want to reflect the markets we serve.

Our CEO and board chairman, Michael K. Wirth, started the Chairman’s Inclusion Council last year. He and the 12 members of his leadership team and presidents of each employee network meet three times a year.

The leaders of those networks are early- to mid-career employees, and they bring to our leadership’s attention issues important in our society and their impact within the walls of Chevron—like the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. When those things happen, we find employees reach out to these networks and say, “What do we do? What does it mean to our employees here?” We’re able to respond.

The Inclusion Council also talks about how we can advance employee networks and our roles in hiring and retention. When we’re hiring from under-represented groups, those candidates meet with people from our networks to find out what life for them is like at Chevron.

SHRM Online: Chevron has diversity action plans that are tied to employee compensation. Who are they geared to and does diversity training play a part in the action plans?

Jourdan: Everyone in the company has a diversity action plan. There are measurable objectives that can be tied to compensation, and the plan is part of everyone’s annual performance review. We talk about everything in that performance plan, including D&I. 

The plan can be as specific as “you’ll mentor ‘x’ amount of diverse employees” or “you’ll serve on the hiring team that works with certain organizations or universities that we partner with for diversity recruitment.” Training can be part of the diversity action plan.

SHRM Online: Chevron has implemented a new program to recruit people seeking to re-enter the workplace. Tell us about that.

Jourdan: Welcome Back is a 10-week initiative for men and women. It began as a pilot program last year, and we are rolling it out in the U.S. in September. It’s for people who left the workplace for whatever reason—starting or raising a family, providing care for a family member, entering military service, teaching or returning to school. Participants work with a supervisor and mentor. Successful participants will be offered full-time positions.

We need to open up the pipeline to get women to the senior level. We don’t lose a lot of women—they make up about 25 percent of our workforce—but we still need women represented at senior levels. The idea is to strengthen participants’ technical expertise. They haven’t lost their leadership and planning skills, and we want to take advantage of that.

SHRM Online: This year, Chevron donated $5 million to Catalyst, a women’s rights advocacy group, for its Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) program that focuses on tackling unconscious bias and helps men become allies for their female colleagues. How will Catalyst use the donation?

Jourdan: This donation will make it easier for other organizations to advocate for women by continuing Catalyst’s research and programming, supporting the rollout of MARC teams to companies around the world and expanding the number of MARC leaders.

The MARC program has 3,000 members in 12 countries, and it’s worked so well we wanted to expand it. It addresses things like men’s sensitivity in mentoring women and providing guidance and sponsorship. One of the things we talk about in MARC is being comfortable working with women post-#MeToo. We had people from Chevron attend MARC, and we surveyed them before and after as to whether they would speak up if they heard or saw something inappropriate in the workplace. Before training, 45 percent of men said they would speak up; after training, 75 percent said they would.

Demographic Breakdown of Chevron’s U.S. and Global Workforce

As of December 2018, Chevron employed 45,047 full- and part-time employees around the world; among that number, 21,465 were U.S. employees.

​Total U.S. Workforce
​Latino/Latina 16%​
​Asian 14%​
Black​ 8%​
Other*​ 3%​
​Women in Chevron’s U.S. Workforce​
Total ​ 31%​
​First- and mid-level manager roles ​30%
​Executive and senior-manager positions 22%​
First- and mid-level managers in U.S. workforce​
​Asian 12%​
​Latino/Latina 12%​
​Black 7%​
​Other* 1%​
​U.S. executives and senior managers
​Asian 9%​
​Latino/Latina 6%​
​Black 3%​
​Other* 0.9%​
​Women in Chevron’s global workforce
​Total 25%​
​Mid-level management roles 19%​
​Senior-leadership positions 19%​
​Executive-leadership positions 16%​

Note: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines “other” as Native American, Pacific Islander, or people of two or more races. 

Source: Chevron 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report Highlights.

Love Versus Lust

Author: PeopleFinders on July 19th, 2019

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(sponsored post, courtesy of Apollonia Ponti)

In today’s modern-day dating world, a lot of us wonder about the difference between lust and love. I’ve seen many couples dive head-first into relationships with the belief that they are deeply in love only to see that it was just lust later down the line. In this article, I will help explain the difference between lust and love and why we question it so much these days.

How to tell the difference between lust and love

Lust is a powerful physical attraction to someone. More than that, the physical attraction can take over the reality of how a relationship could be with this person (what I like to call the “down-to-earth” feeling that this person can give you).

When you’re in a lusting relationship, a lot of your emotions are riding on the feeling of the relationship. It’s such a high that you can find yourself  addicted to it. And you might think, “Is this too good to be true?”

Typically, lusting relationships happen when someone was never taught to love themselves first, or to seek external validation from another person to feel loved. Why do I say this? Lust is something that typically happens in the first moments. And everything happens so fast: you bring this person into your life quickly and fully without taking the time to learn what’s beneath the surface.

Now, let’s talk about love. In a loving relationship, things can still happen fast. But here is the difference. It’s just not based on the physical, and you can 100% be yourself. There is typically no blockage of jealousy or attachment. And commitment tends to happen at a natural pace, since you prioritize your life before putting someone else before it.

In a lusting relationship, you typically drop your life for a while, and put someone else before it.

But in a loving relationship, the attraction is built from values and boundaries. And the idea of the both of you being together is something that is worked on. But it is not something that is expected in the beginning, not until both of you know and understand each other, which takes time.

Is one better than the other?

I always say, it depends on what you’re looking for in life at a given moment in time. Some may find that they have an avoidant attachment style, where they consciously or subconsciously choose lust because of the fear of commitment. But then some people want to have a family or have a lifelong partner, so this is when love is essential.

Can you have both in a relationship?

The short answer is “no.” Either you love your partner, or you lust over someone. When you are in a healthy relationship, lust does not play a role. Attraction and seduction may when it comes to sexual energy in your relationship. But when it comes to healthy relationships, lust is nowhere to be found.

Remember, lust is a powerful sexual desire. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t have an amazing sex life with your partner, and have a strong sexual desire for them. Because I hope you do! But lust comes from a form of idolization. Simply put, placing someone on a pedestal or thinking that they are better than you.

The most important thing that you have to remember when you start to seek love is to understand that your heart and time are not offered freely. And it takes time to really understand who you have in front of you.

You can, of course, extend love to someone as a helping hand. But never give your heart or soul freely to someone else with the intent for them to fix something within you. Find someone who motivates you in life, makes you a better person, and challenges you to live in integrity. Make sure they treat you with respect, and that their values align with yours.

This article was written in collaboration with dating and relationship coach Apollonia Ponti. You can find out more about her at

And for more advice and tips on relationships, be sure to check out the other articles available on the PeopleFinders blog.

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Blackwater Protection & Detective Agency To Pay $35,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

MIAMI – Blackwater Protection & Detective Agency, LLC will pay $35,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commis­sion (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Blackwater owner and CEO Asdel Vazquez subjected a female employee to continuous sexually charged comments and retaliated against her for rejecting his advances. Asdel Vazquez asked the female employee if she was
gay and whom she found attractive at work, asked her to engage in sexual acts with him, petted her hair while she worked, and repeatedly called her at home. The employee, who was employed by Blackwater for only one week, was fired the day after she
told Vazquez that she would not meet him outside of work and that she wanted to keep things pro­fessional, the EEOC said.

Sexual harassment and retaliatory termination of employment violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its suit (EEOC v. Blackwater Protection & Detective Agency et al., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-23938-DPG) in
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the consent decree resolving the EEOC’s claims, Blackwater will pay $35,000 to the victim of harassment and retaliatory termination. Blackwater and its successor companies will retain an indepen­dent equal employment opportunity consultant
to receive and investigate complaints of sex discrimination, create a hotline to receive anonymous complaints of harassment, and create a sexual harassment policy to address the sexual harassment at issue in this lawsuit. The decree also provides
that managers and employ­ees at Blackwater and its successor companies receive in-person training on sexual harassment policies and laws, and that Asdel Vazquez will receive one-on-one in-person training.

“Asdel Vazquez created a sexually charged work environment at Blackwater,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg. “This settlement and targeted relief seek to stop him from creating the same environment at other companies he owns and

EEOC District Director Michael Farrell added, “This settlement should send a message to owners, corporate officials and upper-level managers who abuse their positions of power within a company. They are not above the laws prohibiting sexual
harassment in the workplace, and the EEOC will always remain vigilant in its efforts to identify and correct such abuses.”

The EEOC’s Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa and San Juan EEOC offices, and has jurisdiction over Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by
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Viewpoint: Why Punishing Employee Mistakes Can Sabotage Your Company

SHRM has partnered with to bring you relevant articles on key HR topics and strategies.

When a little kid falls and skins his knee, he doesn’t drop his head and say, “I suck. I’m never going to try again.” His parents don’t scream at him, “How dare you trip?!” In business, however, people feel this way all the time. They’re fueled by the fear of making a costly mistake, so they avoid risks.

But they forget a vital lesson: Mistakes are useful. A report published in Scientific American found that our brains actually grow as we learn from our mistakes. They build paths that eventually lead to success if we leverage that information properly. In other words, we should celebrate mistakes because they get us one step closer to our desired outcome.

Mistakes, by their nature, are unintentional. They usually result from people sizing up a situation and going left when they should have gone right. Just don’t confuse genuine mistakes with irresponsibility, which is grounded in consistent carelessness. When people fear mistakes, they underachieve and underperform. 

Your team needs the confidence to be bold and fearless because that’s precisely where value is created. To celebrate your employees’ mistakes and help them be daring enough to fail, use these three strategies:

1. Build a safety net. Your employees should feel secure enough to take bold action. Meet with your team members to determine whether they feel welcome to share ideas and use their strengths and talents. In a trusting and engaging work environment, employees should feel less pressure to avoid mistakes.

One way I practice this is by supporting my employees as they lead client meetings. Many people are afraid to talk with a client when the boss is in the room because they’re worried about the review that could follow. Silencing employees, whether it’s intentional or not, prevents them from truly adding value. Encouraging employees to take risks helps them produce highly effective results, build their confidence, and develop their skills without fear of repercussions. 

2. Shine a light on imperfections. No one is perfect, and that’s OK. When your employees slip up, don’t reprimand them — recognize the mistake and turn it into a teaching moment.

For instance, an employee of mine thought I was going to read him the riot act after he sent out a not-so-great email. Instead, I told him to email the client back, openly admit the mistake, and fix the situation. The client trusted him even more because he acted authentically instead of creating a larger mess by trying to work around the mistake. Once you start treating errors as learning experiences, employees will feel brave enough to take the risks that yield the biggest rewards.

3. Open your own book. Your employees will never feel safe to make mistakes if they think you’re flawless. During every team meeting, I discuss my own faults because it shows people I’m working hard to affect change in myself and my practice. My openness permits them to be more candid with me, each other, and their clients. It also makes them more productive because they don’t have to spend as much time covering up errors.

We all make mistakes, but it’s not something to fear. Instead, make sure you and your employees learn from them and prevent irresponsible behavior going forward.

You can’t become the best if you never take risks. We learn by doing, experiencing and living — even if you did it wrong. Celebrate those falls, and show your employees how to stand up and get back in the game. Eventually, they’ll rise to their fullest potential.

Jonathan Keyser is the founder of KEYSER, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based commercial real estate broker. He’s also an author, thought leader and guest speaker on disruptive and service-oriented business practices.

This article is excerpted from with permission from Chief Executive. C 2019. All rights reserved.

How to Reconnect with Old Best Friends

Author: PeopleFinders on July 12th, 2019

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Making friends is an important part of your childhood, and it’s more than likely that you had a best friend throughout your formative years. High school is an especially big time, and many people form incredibly close friendships with high school friends.

However, as you grew and changed, you may have lost contact. Whether you moved away, the friend moved away, or you just got busy with work, school, family life, and other burdens, it’s not always easy to maintain contact with childhood friends, regardless of how close you were back in the day.

If you’ve started thinking about your old best friends, it may be worth it to try to reconnect. If you’re not quite sure how to get started, try one of these four tips:

1. Ask Mutual Friends

If you were best friends back in the day, you surely had some other friends that both of you were really close with; you don’t get to be best friends without having at least some crossover in your interactions.

Although it’s very common to lose contact with old friends throughout the years, there’s a decent chance that you still know at least a few of them, especially if you went to the same school or both stayed in the same town. Ask those friends if they’ve had any contact with your old best friend. Even if their information isn’t current contact information, whatever they can tell you may still be helpful.

2. Talk to Your Parents

Your parents likely have a pretty good memory of the people you were friends with when you were a child. As a youngster with a lot going on, you may be less likely to maintain long-term memories from your school days. However, parents tend to keep a close eye on who their kids are hanging around with, so they may remember important details.

Even better, there’s a chance that they’re still in contact with your friend’s parents, which can lead you right to a reconnection. Talking to your parents is similar to talking to your mutual friends; even if you don’t get a clear path to reconnecting, you can at least glean some additional details.

3. Try Social Media

In the modern era, social media is one of the most common ways that people find each other. Facebook has over two billion monthly users. With over a quarter of the world’s population on Facebook, there’s a serious chance that your old best friend will have a Facebook account and use it at least occasionally.

Start with the high school that the two of you went to; it may have a Facebook page, and your old friend may have connected his or her Facebook account to that page. If you know where the friend went to college, check that as well. You can also search the friend’s name or look up your mutual friends’ names to see if you can connect through them.

4. Use a People Search Engine

Public records are an incredibly useful tool when it comes to finding someone with whom you’ve lost contact. But many people don’t use them to their full potential. Part of the issue is that going through official channels can be incredibly time-consuming and annoying. With PeopleFinders, it may only take a few clicks.

When you use PeopleFinders to try and find contact information for old friends, you merely have to input their first and last name, as well as the city and state where you grew up, and then scroll through the results until you find the person you’re looking for. From there, you may be able to access fuller info, including their current contact and life information.


Reconnecting with your old childhood friend can be an incredible way to step back into your high school years. It’s likely that you and your friend went through quite a lot together, and you may have had each other’s backs in plenty of situations that you can think back on and laugh about now.

Instead of merely thinking about your school years, relive them with someone you care about by reconnecting with a lost best friend. When you use PeopleFinders, all the contact information you’re looking for may be just a few clicks away.

Image attribution: Dima Aslanian –

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Is Age a Part of Your Inclusion Strategy?

People are living longer, and there are more older people in the workforce and looking for work. The time is ripe for organizations to make age part of their diversity and inclusion strategies, noted panelists at The Future of Work for All Generations conference that AARP recently hosted in Washington, D.C.

“You do have to retire the word ‘retirement,’ ” said Julio Portalatin, vice chairman of global professional services firm Marsh & McLennan in New York City. “It is about different stages [of work and life] now … and our ability to reskill at those points.”

In fact, The Associated Press reported in June that seniors in major metropolitan areas—especially in the Northeast and around Washington, D.C.—are more likely to continue working past age 65 than those in other areas of the U.S. Those regions recovered better from the Great Recession, compared to the rest of the country, and tend to have jobs in government, finance, law and academia where seniors can work longer. The findings are based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Additionally, Forbes reported in May that many Baby Boomers are embracing “unretirement”—either for monetary reasons or because they enjoy working—by reinventing themselves after trying retirement.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Employing Older Workers]

At Marsh & McLennan, Portalatin said, retirees bid to work on client projects as consultants.

“They’re great at delivering [the product] because they’ve been doing it for decades,” he noted.

Panelist Geoff Pearman, founder and managing director and principal consultant at Partners in Change consultancy in New Zealand, advocated for transition pathways for older workers to ease out of work.

“Give them a new narrative and a new way about talking” about how they would like to use their skills and experience, rather than assuming they will stop working after a certain age, he said during the panel discussion.

That might involve, for example, phased retirement, working on more project-based assignments, less fast-paced work or more-flexible schedules.

“Retirement is old, linear thinking,” Pearman added, noting that some workers go into business for themselves after they supposedly “retire.” He advised employers to train team leaders and managers to have inclusive, honest conversations with older workers to learn what they want to do.

[SHRM Foundation resource page: The Aging Workforce]

However, there doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency among organizations to find out what their older employees want out of work, Portalatin said. “There’s a lot of talk about [being age-inclusive] but not a lot of execution. I’m concerned we’re leaving the issue behind for others to solve.”

Rohini Anand, senior vice president of corporate responsibility and global chief diversity officer at Sodexo, said one initiative alone won’t solve the problem. Instead, companies have to change the culture. Sodexo has had success building an age-inclusive environment, she said, by:

  • Articulating a clear business case for having older workers.
  • Getting engagement and commitment from leadership. “[Age inclusivity] has to be driven from the top. It sends a strong message when leaders are engaged and making things happen. The same thing applies when you’re talking about age diversity,” Anand said.
  • Having clear metrics and accountability. She suggested linking performance management to some sort of diversity objective that includes age.
  • Employing a systemic, holistic strategy that addresses human capital at all ages, including age-neutral hiring and talent management, a succession plan to ensure knowledge transfer, and elimination of unconscious bias.

Portalatin advised HR professionals to regularly review the company handbook.

“Many of you would be amazed at how antiquated it is,” he said. “Your goals change every year, so why shouldn’t [your handbook]?”

Read this checklist for creating an age-inclusive workforce. 

EEOC Sues McDonald’s Franchise For Religious Discrimination

Longwood Restaurant Failed to Hire Applicant Because of His Beard, Federal Agency Charges in Lawsuit

ORLANDO, Fla. – Chalfont & Associates Group, Inc., owner of multiple McDonald’s restaur­ants in Central Florida, violated federal law when it refused to hire a job applicant who would not shave his beard due to his religious beliefs, the U.S.
Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a practicing Hasidic Jew applied for a part-time maintenance worker position at a McDonald’s in Longwood, Fla. During his interview, the hiring manager told the applicant he would be hired, but needed to shave his
beard to comply with McDonald’s grooming policy. McDonald’s grooming policy states “[a]ll employees must be completely clean shaven.” The applicant told the hiring manager he would not shave his beard due to his religious beliefs. The appli­cant
offered to wear a beard net as a solution, but was denied. 

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits dis­crimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, unless it
poses an undue hardship.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division (EEOC v. Chalfont & Associates Group, Civil Action No. 6:19-cv-01304-PGB-GJK), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through
its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

“The fact that McDonald’s has grooming policies does not exempt them from following the law,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg. “McDonalds was aware the applicant could not shave his beard for religious reasons, but refused to
accommodate his religious beliefs. Employers should never force applicants to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs, which can be reasonably accommodated, and earning a living.”

Michael Farrell, district director for the Miami District Office, said, “The employer’s conduct in this case was unjustified and unlawful. The EEOC consistently encourages employers to review their policies and practices to ensure they follow
federal mandates regarding workplace accommodations for religious beliefs and practices.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office’s jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by
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