Mexican Scientist Creates Biodegradable Plastic Straw From Cactus
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Sandra Ortiz stands in kitchen behind table filled with vaiations of her new plastic

Researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico have created a biodegradable plastic from the juice of the prickly pear cactus.

The new material begins to break down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in a matter of days. Plus, it doesn’t require crude oil like traditional plastics.

“There were some publications that spoke of different materials with which biodegradable plastics could be made, including some plants,” Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, the research professor who developed the material, told Forbes.

“In this case the nopal cactus has certain chemical characteristics with which I thought it could be feasible to obtain a polymer, that if it was combined with some other substances, all of them natural, a non-toxic biodegradable plastic would be obtained. The process is a mixture of compounds whose base is the nopal. It’s totally non-toxic, all the materials we use could be ingested both by animals or humans and they wouldn’t cause any harm.”

This means that even if any of this material made its way into the ocean, it will safely dissolve. It’s estimated that between 1.15 million to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. Last month, divers found a plastic KFC bag from the 1970s during an ocean clean-up off the waters off Bulcock Beach in Queensland, Australia and earlier this year, during a dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the ocean – a plastic bag was found.

According to Ortiz, the project was born in a science Fair of the The nopal cactus sitting on table with blender in the backgroundDepartment of Exact Sciences and Engineering, in the chemistry class with industrial engineering students of the career. They began to make some attempts to obtain a plastic using cactus as raw material.

“From that I decided to start a research project in a formal way. Currently in the project collaborate researchers from the University of Guadalajara in conjunction with the University of Valle de Atemajac.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

These Companies are Stepping Up in the Fight for Racial Equality
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A hand writing the word Inequality on glass board,

When it comes to encouraging diversity, especially during the Black Lives Matter movement, here are some of the companies that are supporting racial equality.

Bank of America

On June 2, Bank of America announced they will be pledging one billion dollars toward community programs and minority-owned businesses over the course of four years. The money was pledged in response to both the death of George Floyd and the impacts of COVID-19. Bank of America hopes this money will further help minority-owned businesses thrive, improve health services in Black communities, and open up positions for more bank employees.

Uber

To encourage its users to support black-owned businesses in response to George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter Movement, Uber has announced that it will be waiving all delivery fees coming from black-owned restaurants in the United States and Canada. This process will begin on June 5 and continue throughout the rest of the year. Uber has also stated they are planning to create an initiative specifically designed to aid black-owned restaurants, as well as other businesses.

Additionally, Uber has pledged to create more diversity within their employees.

UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group is donating a pledged ten million dollars to help the neighborhoods of Minneapolis rebuild any damage taken in response to the protests. This will include five million of those dollars being donated to the YMCA Equity Innovation Center of Excellence.

UnitedHealth Group has also pledged to pay for all of George Floyd’s children to go to college when the time comes.

Disney

Disney will be donating five million dollars to companies that stand for social justice, including the NAACP, which Disney has pledged two million dollars to. Disney employees are also encouraged to donate to social justice causes, as Disney has promised to match any donation made by a Disney employee.

P & G

The umbrella company for brands, such as Tide and Olay, P & G has created the “Take on Race” fund that will be distributing five million dollars to organizations that will advance education on race, better communities, and improve all healthcare systems. The fund will be working directly with large and small organizations, such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and Courageous Conversation.

The Man Behind America’s New Spacesuit: Jose Fernandez
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Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken giving a thumbs up in Fernandez' new space suits before boarding

Recently, and for a while now, new dad of the entertainingly-named little boy, X Æ A-12 Musk, and footloose Twitter aficionado Elon Musk is having one of what he hopes will be a long future of space moments.

It’s no small accomplishment to get the nod from NASA bigs that you can carry the most precious asset, their astronauts, up to the big game on the International Space Station, and kudos to Daddy Musk, and to NASA, for that.

But, talk about a cool flight suit: Musk and his deeply pedigreed Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez took a couple of years to design the new NASA super-skinny pressure suits. The spacesuits certainly look snazzy, with their close-to-the-body cut, their elegant dark silver (fireproof!) piping over the white Teflon fabric, their highly articulate gloves and neck, and the black knee-high boots that seem to quote the Duke of Wellington’s own below-the-knee cavalry boots, albeit ready for the wear and tear of outer space rather than that of Napoleon’s cannon at Waterloo.

Mr. Fernandez is no stranger to durable, tight-fitting clothes for heroes, having worked on costumes for Batman V Superman: Dawn of JusticeTronIronman 2The Amazing Spiderman, and Captain America: Civil War, to name just a few of his impressive credits. He was first approached by SpaceX in 2016 to participate in a design competition and freely recounts that he didn’t, at first, understand that it was for a real space effort, not a movie production about a space effort, to which he would be submitting his work. “I didn’t know what SpaceX was, and I thought it was a film,” the modest Fernandez says.

Not so the light, ovoid, and very open-to-the-cosmos Fernandez helmet. Fernandez has not simply given his astronauts a better, less obstructed field of vision. The helmet tops a flexible and, for a spacesuit, very extended and articulate neck piece, best seen above on astronaut Doug Hurley, left, as he boards the Tesla on May 27 en route to the spacecraft before the first launch was scrubbed. In fact, some of the old NASA helmets would wholly prevent the astronaut from even contemplating getting his head low enough to get into a car as astronaut Hurley is doing. We’ll get to see Hurley and his partner Bob Behnken do it again on Saturday, and again with the excellent product placement of the Musk-enterprise-friendly Tesla as the new and very cushy official NASA launch-tender ride.

With the visor up, the Fernandez helmet resembles that of a Parisian pompeur , a fireman’s helmet, jaunty and protective at once. Visor down, the sleek ovoid quotes some of Kier Dullea’s very, very cool space headgear that Stanley Kubrick had commissioned for his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition, close viewers of the Grammys and all fans of disco/electronic/dance/trance will notice a strong connection in the NASA helmet to the helmets sported by the ultra-shy French pop duo Daft Punk.

This is no accident: It should be noted that Daft Punk has in fact commissioned the brilliant Fernandez for several pieces of their trademark weird-oh disco-robot headgear. But as a deeply schooled “extreme couture” tailor to all sorts of cinematic superheros and heroines embroiled in narratives whose origins stretch back to the early 20th century, Mr. Fernandez would be well aware of Kubrick’s earlier camera-friendly helmet innovations.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article

Photo: Getty Images

PLANNING FOR PRIDE INSIDE: LGBT Businesses Can Power Your Virtual Pride
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nglcc logo

When the COVID-19 crisis began, the NGLCC said that it has never been more imperative to commit ourselves to shop local, shop LGBT, give back what we can to our community organizations, and support all those around us. We truly are in this together. Pride is the ultimate celebration of togetherness, even if we can’t dance in the streets this summer. From the safety of our homes, we will be able to celebrate all that makes our community so beautiful, so resilient, and so rich with diversity.

Pride 2020 will also be a time to develop innovative ways to celebrate and show our support for our community and our allies. As NGLCC shared with The Advocate when shutdowns began, we are all in the business of “Keeping the LGBTQ Community Financially Strong During COVID-19”. As you, your community organizations, and your companies plan for digital Pride celebrations, take extra care to rely on the resourcefulness of America’s 1.4 million LGBT business owners and the services they can provide to make this Pride season unforgettable:

Pride Gear: Rainbow sunglasses and T-shirts with your company brand on them, table and home/office decorations for your online parties, and everything else you can dream of are available from LGBT-owned custom print shops like Brand|Pride and many more who specialize in making Pride unforgettable.

Streaming Video Service: From online dance parties and celebrity video fundraisers, to Pride conferences, webinars, and corporate group gatherings, there are LGBT-owned event and digital solution companies, like American Meetings, Inc., ready to take your digital Pride celebration to the next level. Don’t forget to also source your graphics and custom videos from certified LGBT designers eager to support your Pride event.

Snacks and Drinks: Whether you want a snack or cocktail to enjoy while watching the online celebrations, or are looking for Pride gifts and giveaways for your clients, friends, or favorite nonprofit, LGBT-owned food vendors, distilleries like Republic Restoratives, and micro-breweries are all available for personal or commercial celebrations ahead.

Best of all: Everything you need can be sourced directly from our own community through the vast network of Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® suppliers and affiliate chambers across America. And helping LGBT Americans through this time is key to helping all Americans succeed. We can never forget that our community includes women, communities of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, veterans, and so many others with whom we must stand in solidarity for a stronger, more inclusive economy on the other side of this outbreak.

This is also the time to remind your favorite brands, TV networks, and magazines that LGBT-inclusive marketing has never been more important. Just because we aren’t waving at your float doesn’t mean we aren’t watching how you engage with our community.  As the economy regains its footing in the months ahead, leading with a commitment to diversity — as a business owner or consumer — can help supercharge our economy and our community back to where we should be with our $917 billion dollar purchasing power. Now is the time to be doubling down on inclusive advertising so that our communities feel seen, supported, and empowered throughout — and long after — COVID-19.

Now, in this unprecedented moment, we can take pride in our purchases by supporting our community through the goods and services that power our 2020 Pride celebrations. Every dollar you and your companies spend with our community helps all of us come out of this moment stronger– and that is something that should give us all pride.

Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell are co-founders of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).  NGLCC is the business voice of the LGBT community, the largest global advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people, and the exclusive certifying body for LGBT-owned businesses.

7 Reasons to Participate in a Virtual Job Fair
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Back view of female employee talk with male businessman on webcam laptop conference, woman worker with man employer brainstorm on video call from home, online

Traditional job fairs can be a drag, requiring your recruiters to travel, set up an expensive display, and stay on top of their game when they’re tired and maybe even a bit overwhelmed by a crush of candidates. But if you need a good-sized pool of potential employees, you probably feel you have no choice but to participate.

Actually, however, that’s not completely true. Your business can reap many of the benefits of such an event without some of the drawbacks, thanks to the growth of virtual job fairs.

Here are seven reasons why your company should take part in a virtual job fair:

1. You can interact with potential employees from all over the world and a variety of disciplines.
In today’s job market, you can’t afford to limit your hiring pool to a small geographical area or a particular kind of person. A virtual fair can put you in touch with a huge variety of people quickly and efficiently.

2. Virtual fairs save you money.
When your “booth” is in cyberspace, you don’t have to pay for a big display or for your recruiters’ travel. Your team can manage everything from the comfort of their offices—or from their own homes, if you offer remote work options.

3. You can take advantage of pre-fair promotion.
These events are enthusiastically and broadly advertised by their sponsors, and your participation will allow you to piggyback on that promotion to build your brand—all without paying for advertising. You can’t beat that kind of opportunity to create awareness about your company and what you do.

4. You can manage and target your message.
When you’re participating in an online event, you can be sure that your talking points will be communicated consistently and will reach your intended audience. “All applicants will receive the same information, face the same questions, and confer with the same company representatives,” says an article from Getting Hired.

5. Virtual fairs allow you to use your time more effectively.
“You can have multiple conversations going at the same time with job seekers, so it is less time-consuming than traditional career fairs,” says an article from Right Management.

6. Online fairs let you communicate the way your workers do.
“Whether you’re a millennial, a Gen Xer, or baby boomer, we all communicate online through messaging apps, such as Facebook messenger or through text messaging,” says an article from Brazen. “Online events and online career fairs offer the same form of communication. Take advantage of this shift.”

7. You can guarantee you’re capturing the information you need.
This is another point noted in the Getting Hired article. “A virtual career fair automatically captures the data of applicants, helping to ensure easier contact and follow up after the event, as well as retaining all candidates’ contact information for future roles and pipelines,” the article says.

Your company should explore opportunities to participate in these types of virtual activities. The savings in time and money, along with the ability to extend your recruiting reach nationwide or even worldwide, make them an obvious choice when you’re seeking the most talented workers to help your business grow.

Source: flexjobs.com

Merck Virtual Engagement and Educational Experience and Virtual Business Opportunity Fair
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Merck business fair announcement

Merck’s Virtual Engagement Center will offer two tracks for Diverse Suppliers:

The Merck Global Economic Inclusion & Supplier Diversity Educational Experience (kick-off May 21, 2020) is a webinar series geared toward the developing the knowledge of diverse suppliers in the marketplace.

These monthly sessions will give diverse suppliers a leg-up and get them ready to pitch their capabilities and services, while learning how to set themselves apart and ultimately win the business.

Register Here

The Virtual Business Opportunity Fair, June 17, 2020, one of two LIVE events in 2020, that will provide the opportunity for diverse suppliers to engage with Merck’s supply chain professionals, Prime Suppliers and Advocacy Organizations during a virtual tradeshow.
Register Here

Supplier development and diversity are critical to our mission of Inventing for Life. We are excited to deploy these two exciting programs as part of the Virtual Engagement Center and hope you will join us.

COVID-19 Highlights the Need for Increased Supplier Diversity
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A video conference with a diverse group of co-workers

By Elizabeth Vasquez

As global citizens prepare to fight against the current COVID-19 pandemic, I have been inspired by the individual stories of the women-owned businesses in the WEConnect International community and the resilience of my team and our supporters around the world.

As the CEO of a global nonprofit, I’m used to spending my life in airports and airplanes flying to meetings, speaking at conferences and meeting with our member buyers and the women business owners who supply a wide assortment of goods and services. But my intense travel schedule has ground to a halt as meetings have been canceled or postponed.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be at our WEConnect International South Africa Conference, Scaling Up in 2020 for Sustainable Growth, in Johannesburg. I met several exceptional women business owners and large buyers committed to inclusion.

Many are stepping up to help us all face the coronavirus challenge, like Refilwe Sebothoma, whose company, PBM Group, is supplying face masks. Belukazi Nkala, who owns Khanyile Solutions, is providing protective uniforms. And Judy Sunasky’s company, Blendwell Chemicals, is producing hand sanitizer.

In Singapore, Rithika Gupta is also increasing hand sanitizer production at her company, FP Aromatics, as is Sarah Sayed’s company, BX Merchandise, in the UK. WEConnect International educates and certifies women’s business enterprises based in over 45 countries, and women business owners such as these have registered with us in over 120 countries.

There are approximately 224 million women entrepreneurs worldwide who participate in the ownership of nearly 35 percent of firms in the formal economy. As traditional value chains shift, these business owners can step in to meet buyer demand.

Here in Washington, D.C., the WEConnect International Team has decided to hold our annual Gala and Symposium virtually. This is not a cancellation or a postponement but rather an opportunity for champions of diversity to leverage technology in support of inclusive global growth.

We are committed to creating opportunity in the face of adversity and have engaged our award winners, member buyers, women-owned businesses and strategic partners to join us for our first-ever 24-hour Cyber Gala culminating with the announcement of our Top 10 Global Champions.

Governments are taking the pandemic seriously and are working hard to protect their citizens through social distancing, while meeting the needs of those who fall sick. In addition to the human suffering, the virus has hurt domestic and international business. As a result, governments and business are working together to diversify supply chains to help mitigate future shocks to local and global economies.

 

Elizabeth Vazquez: Advocating for Women-Owned Businesses
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Headshot of Elizabeth Vasquez smiling for the camera

Professional Woman’s Magazine had the opportounity to speak with Elizabeth Vasquez, the founder of WeConnect Internatonal, on her business ventures as well as how to better advocate for Women-Owned Businesses.

Tell us about how you co-founded WEConnect International.

WEConnect International was established in response to a gap in the markets. Several corporate giants in the US and worldwide have committed to supplier diversity and inclusion. They want to buy more from women-owned businesses globally, but when we launched WEConnect International 10 years ago, there was no global database of women suppliers, no way to verify if women actually owned and controlled the companies they lead, and no easy way for women suppliers to connect with large buyers.

Globally, women control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending and make 85 percent of consumer purchasing decisions. And yet, only 1 percent of large corporate and government spend worldwide goes to women-owned businesses. WEConnect International is working to move the needle above 1 percent, generating market access opportunities for women business owners to sell their goods and services to large qualified buyers around the world.

What was your path to writing your book, Buying for Impact: How to Buy from Women and Change Our World?

The written word is a powerful tool to communicate, inform and call to action. I wanted to write something practical for people and organizations who care about women’s economic empowerment, and I was fortunate to have business guru Andrew Sherman co-author the book. Frankly, I wanted to document the WEConnect International journey in one place so more people could learn about the model and about how their purchasing power can change the world.

What women-owned business is making a global impact?

Our certified women-owned businesses are making an impact across the world – from a women-owned business in Mexico that provides transport services, to a South African events manager now working with Avon to an Indian woman who owns a trucking company. Women business owners are working in all fields from agriculture to IT, manufacturing to services. They just need that market knowledge and access to compete and win. WEConnect International certification allows them to leverage a Women-Owned Logo that is respected worldwide.

Who inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by the commitment of our member buyers who have pledged to scale up their inclusive sourcing, leverage WEConnect International to find qualified women suppliers and get more money into the hands of women business owners.

As CEO of WEConnect International, I’ve traveled to every continent other than Antarctica. I am so inspired by the creativity, determination and business savvy of these women business owners. I work as hard as I do because I believe deeply in our mission and I know that our work is changing the lives of these women who just want an equal opportunity to compete. These women inspire me every day to be brave and do more because they are delivering innovations and solutions that make the world better for all of us.

What is your experience as a Hispanic woman leader?

I have worked very hard throughout my career and have achieved a level of success that I never dreamed possible. That being said, I am aware that there are challenges for women and Hispanics throughout our society. Our mission at WEConnect International is to supplier diversity and inclusion – for women, for Hispanics, for ethnic minorities, for the LGBTQ community, for people with disabilities and for other under-utilized groups. As CEO, I am working with our member buyers and our women-owned businesses to make sure that our vision becomes a reality and that everyone has equal access to opportunities.

What advice do you have for other women aspiring to be in leadership positions?

Take risks, follow your dreams, and embrace what the universe opens up to you because your journey could go far beyond what you imagined when you started.

I co-founded WEConnect International at my dining table, and now we are working with more than 100 corporations with more than $1 trillion in annual purchasing power.

Why is WEConnect International important to corporations?

Corporations created WEConnect International as a global peer network committed to doing more business with women suppliers because it’s good for their bottom lines. We give corporations easy access to competitive women-owned business of all sizes, in all sectors, across all major markets to help ensure they are doing business with the world’s best suppliers.

Where do you see WEConnect International in the next 5 years?

By 2025, WEConnect International wants 200,000 women suppliers in our network, 400 buyers sourcing inclusively, 50 countries served on the ground and 150 countries served virtually and corporate and government spend with women-owned businesses to move beyond 1 percent. It’s a heavy lift, but we can do it, especially as more and more people find out.

LA Pride Festival Cancels In-Person Celebration, Will Go Digital
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LA-pride-2019

On its 50th anniversary, the iconic Los Angeles Pride Festival and Parade, which normally draw hundreds of thousands of people to West Hollywood in June, will be going digital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers recently announced that the festival will instead be held virtually on several digital platforms over a period of months and spanning into 2021.

Back in mid-March, Christopher Street West – the nonprofit group in charge of putting on the festival, announced that it would be postponed. However, it was confirmed that the festival has been canceled the in-person celebrations, and will instead return in 2021.

“Due to the evolving effects surrounding COVID-19, CSW has made the responsible decision to forgo in-person LA Pride celebrations for the remainder of the year,” the group said in a statement. “The organization will instead re-imagine how it will celebrate its 50th anniversary through new and exciting initiatives hosted on its digital platforms, with the hope of returning to a physical celebration in 2021. More details will be announced soon on how Los Angeles will celebrate its 50th Anniversary through exciting digital initiatives.”

The three-day festival is one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the nation.

CSW said it would roll out its digital initiatives in the coming months.

Continue on to CBS Los Angeles to read the complete article.

A Remote Manager’s Guide to Successful Teams
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Remote team working from home in a video conference and manager communicates via video call communication with her team using laptop

Being away from your employees can create its own challenges when you work remotely. It can be difficult to gauge how employees are doing and what they are getting accomplished, which can cause a tremendous amount of stress.

Ryan Malone, the founder of Smartbug Media, has run his company 100% remotely since he opened in 2008. To be successful as on off-site manager, Malone offers his top four tips.

1) Adjust Work Hours

Working remotely has different challenges on different work styles, ways of efficiency, and in decreasing commute time. Working a 9-to-5 work day may work best for you but may not be the best way for your employees. Assess the needs of the company with how your employees work best to find the work hours that would be the best for them and the company.

2) Keep Your Documents Updated

Keeping track of your business’ various tasks and who is completing them can get confusing. Implement a system that will track the status of ongoing projects and tasks. This way, employees can easily locate what step of the task is being completed and what they need to implement for the next step.

3) Connect and Bond

Getting to know your co-workers is important for work morale, teamwork, and finding ways to best communicate. Talking about work is important, but it doesn’t have to be the only conversation that you ever have. Create a space where your employees can have a “water cooler” of sorts. Creating chatrooms and hosting virtual non-work-related events for your employees to attend will aid in strengthening these relationships with your co-workers.

4) Exercise

Exercise is not only important for your physical health but also for your mental health. Ryan Malone uses exercise as a means of health and to relieve stress. It can be difficult to directly gauge where your company is at from the comfort of your own home, but you need to be able to stay calm and think clearly to proceed. Exercising is a great way to keep your mind sharp and your anxiety levels down.

A Latino Astronaut’s Guide to Getting Through Isolation
LinkedIn
Astronaut Jose Hernandez

While living in isolation may be a new experience for many of us, this experience is part of the basic training for those who desire to become astronauts. Astronauts are required to learn how to manage loneliness and anxiety, all while being separated from the rest of society in a small space.

But before astronauts even step foot in the rocket for their next mission, they are required to self-isolate as to not get sick when they deploy for the stars.

Of isolation in NASA, former astronaut Jose Hernandez told NBC, “We live in isolation for more than a month, and even before that you have to do a lot of exercises with your team to prepare.”

Here are Hernandez’s top three tips on how to best handle isolation and separation from society:

1) Communicate and Establish Routines

Much like the teams of astronauts that are forced to be in the same space for a long period of time, families are being forced to spend a lot more time with each other at home. But for some, spending too much time with the same people can become difficult. At NASA, astronauts go through a procedure in which they are required to give instructions, have the instructions repeated back to them, and evaluate what is reasonable in the requests given. This method of careful and thoughtful communication can also be used at home when trying to express your concerns with other members of your household. Routines, Hernandez suggests, are also vital—even when there is nothing on the agenda for the day—as routines help to establish accomplishments.

2) Reach Out Digitally

Being out in space makes a quick visit to friends and family impossible. During a time of not being able to visit those we are not quarantining ourselves with, the effects of loneliness can become harsh on someone who is not used to being away from human interaction. Hernandez suggests reaching out to the people you care about digitally. While in space, Hernandez used to video call his family and show them how he would eat M&Ms in zero gravity. Hernandez uses video calling during the pandemic as well to talk to his parents who are isolated from him.

3) Stay Positive

To cope with loneliness while in space, Hernandez was trained to look at his time in space with a positive attitude. When days were hard for Hernandez, he would remember he was one of the lucky few who was trained and chosen to do the kind of work he did.

When days are hard for us, we can think of how grateful we are to be in a place of safety and health during a time when many are not. It may not make the immediate situation better, but staying positive can help to ease stress and decrease anxiety.

There is a lot to be learned on how to handle this new normal, but following these tips can help us make it through.

HNM BLM

 
*Please be sure to check event websites for latest updates on postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19 precautions.

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    July 25, 2020 - July 27, 2020
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