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Amazon prohibits salary inquiries for gender parity

Amazon is changing their hiring policies to ban managers from asking applicants about their previous salaries.

This is part of a US policy that is meant to reduce the gender pay gap. California, New York, New Orleans, New Jersey, Dalaware, and Pittsburg are a few of the states that have already implemented this policy. According to the Labour Code, the bill would “prohibit an employer from relying on the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer an applicant employment or what salary to offer an applicant. The bill also would prohibit an employer from seeking salary history information about an applicant for employment and would require an employer, upon reasonable request, to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant for employment.”

The idea is that if potential employers don’t ask, then everyone entering the position will automatically be given the same starting salary based on experience and job title.

It’s an interesting concept, but there are many who believe the law could backfire and actually increase the gender pay gap. If previous salaries, or salary expectations, are not discussed, assumptions regarding the worth and value of the person being interviewed could guide the hiring process to offer certain people a lower salary.

For example, women could be offered less money than they earned previously, and be forced to either re-negotiate or accept the offer. The argument against this ban is that if women are able to firmly state their expectations and previous salary, the number in the original offer will be able to more accurately reflect their value.

The transparency element of this policy is admirable. Companies will have to provide a pay scale for the position to applicants, meaning those being interviewed will have an idea of what kind of salary they should expect.

While this is a state decision, national companies are now being forced to use this new hiring policy across borders.

It’s still a little early to determine whether or not a policy like this one will help reduce the gender pay gap or cause further challenges for women in the workplace. However, it’s an intriguing attempt by governments to take an active role in gender parity in business.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Why consent should be included in #MeToo movement

A woman has made allegations of sexual misconduct against television actor and comedian Aziz Ansari. In her claim, she says the two went out on a date and when she indicated, using “nonverbal and verbal cues” that she wasn’t interested in having sex with him, he tried to seduce her over and over again. Eventually, he called her an uber and she went home.

Ansari has told the media that “it was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned.”

While the allegations may not be as serious as those against Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey, these kind of stories do expose an important issue of consent, or basic respect, on the dating scene. The criticism this woman is receiving online is reason enough why this story is so important. People are saying this woman should have been clearer about her sexual desires, and that it wasn’t fair to Ansari to ruin his career over something he didn’t know he did wrong. An opinion columnist in the New York Times actually said the only thing Ansari is guilty of is not being a mindreader.

Essentially, those responding to this story are saying that because this woman didn’t cry out “no” and push Ansari away, this story has no value to the #MeToo movement. I disagree.

This story is one many women, and probably a few men, are familiar with. Their date indicates a need to slow down, and are promptly ignored. You kind of like the person, so you try to express your consent in a different way. You do this by joking around, distracting your partner, suggesting alternative activities, and finally, by saying you aren’t in the mood. This can result in anger, frustration, embarrassment, and sometimes lead to dangerous situations.

I was dating a man for a few weeks I met online. He was funny, smart, and nice — pretty much exactly what I was looking for. During conversation at dinner, my date invited me back to his apartment. I said that while I liked him, I wanted to take our relationship slow. I like to really get to know a potential partner before jumping into bed with them, especially considering the dangers of the online dating scene. I was about as clear as a person could be about my romantic intensions, and my date seemed understanding. He said there were no strings attached to the invitation, and we could simply watch a movie, drink coffee, and spend more time with each other.

Isn’t that sweet?

Of course, once I arrived at the apartment, there was no coffee. He did put on a movie, but as soon as the opening titles started scrolling along the screen, he was blowing in my ear (is that a thing!!??). The next thing I knew, his hand was on the back of my head, pushing me towards his face. I broke away a few times, joking about how we were going to miss the movie. A few minutes later, his hand was on my cheek, guiding my face back to his.

I consider myself a strong and independent woman, but when I was confronted with such an uncomfortable situation, I am ashamed to say that I lied. Instead of telling my date that his behaviour was unacceptable, especially considering our conversation at dinner, I looked at my phone and said “my dad just called me. My dog is badly injured and he needs help lifting her into the car. I’ve got to run.” And out the door I went.

All that is to say it is not as easy to say “no” as people may think. When you are alone with a person in their home, you are vulnerable. Your partner has the advantage.

It’s also important to remember that consent is not the absence of the word “no”. Consent, according to the Oxford dictionary, means to give “permission for something to happen.” In the case of a sexual relationship, both parties must clearly agree to a sexual act and each person has the right to say no. Consent should never be assumed or implied.

Again, let me stress, consent is not defined by the absence of the word “no”. And that is why this conversation should be a part of the #MeToo movement. Understanding this definition is part of that patriarchal mentality women are trying to change. It is something that will take time and needs to be exposed in order for people to learn.

Could Ansari really not understand this woman’s non-verbal cues? It is absolutely possible. Should he be punished professionally and personally for his actions? I’m not too sure. His reaction is probably similar to hundreds of thousands of men out there who were in similar situations. Men who don’t understand what those non-verbal cues mean and are subject to retaliation in the media.

For those men, here is a very simple guideline: just ask. Ask your partner if it is okay to kiss them. Ask if they want to go to the bedroom. Ask if they are willing to have oral sex. Always ask. When you ask, you will get a firm answer. And continue to ask! Is this okay? Are you okay with me touching you there?

It’s really rather simple. And no, it doesn’t detract from the mood. Trust me, it’s actually quite attractive to have a man stand by your door, saying “you look absolutely beautiful, I would like to kiss you. Can I?”

Sexual assault and sexual harassment within industry and the workplace may be the foundation of the #MeToo and TIME’S UP movement, but it shouldn’t end there. Let’s add consent to the discussion.

Please use a real pregnancy test — not an Ikea ad

I can’t believe this needs to be said: Don’t rely on an Ikea advertisement to determine if you are pregnant. Use a legitimate pregnancy test from a pharmacy, or see your doctor.

Ikea released a new magazine advertisement that encouraged women to pee on a page within the publication to determine if they were pregnant. If the results are positive — those women get a discount on a crib.

The Swedish magazine reads: “Peeing on this ad may change your life.” Watch the instructions here:

IKEA – Pee Ad from Ourwork on Vimeo.

The advertisement was created by Swedish agency Åkestam Holst in collaboration with Mercene Labs, and uses the same technology found in a pregnancy test. They told media customers don’t actually have to bring in a urine-covered magazine to receive the discount (members of the Ikea Family program are all elligible), which means the advertisement is essentially a very weird and glorified pregnancy test. In this case – it is literally no different than taking a legitimate, trustworthy test provided by a doctor. So, why is it that people are freaking out about this Ikea ad?

Interactivity goes a long way in marketing. While urinating on an advertisement doesn’t seem like the most dignified form of interaction out there, it is quirky enough to entice people to try it, especially if they think a discount is waiting for them. It also has the media, Women’s Post included, intrigued enough to write about the campaign. That’s free advertising for Ikea (although the campaign is only available in Sweden, sorry Canada).

Typically, interactivity in advertisement is conducted through technology; a mobile app, a touchscreen, or a URL that allows a customer to insert a coupon name, play a game, or scan a barcode for a chance to win a discount at a store. Magazines have frequently used scent as a form of interactivity, but the use of bodily fluids is a new idea.

On a side note: is anyone else wondering how these ladies manage to do their business on a specific section of a magazine? The video shows the use of an eyedropper, but I foresee a number of accidents.

As much as I don’t like to admit it, this advertisement will most likely be successful for Ikea Sweden. Is it gross and really weird? Definitely! But, I imagine many women out there will be tempted to try it out, just to see if it works.

But please, don’t use it as an official pregnancy test! Don’t trust a company that can’t seem to make bookshelves with all the pieces. Take a real test — and then you can try this weird magazine advertisement.

Would you pee on a magazine for a discount? Let us know in the comments below!

Why is no one describing Celine Dion’s stage mobbing as assault?

Iconic Canadian singer and businesswoman Celine Dion was mobbed by a female fan.

In the middle of one of her concerts in Las Vegas, a fan rushed the stage and grabbed the singer, gyrating against her body with her legs wrapped around her waist. The woman was obviously drunk and it is unclear how she got past security.

Dion handled the fan like the magical woman she is. She calmed the woman down, sent security away, and proceeded to speak with the woman. “I’m glad you came up on stage tonight,” Dion said. “I’m glad that you wanted to come closer to me.” The exchange took about five minutes before the woman was escorted off stage.

“Some people go through a lot,” Dion tells the crowd. “And some people need to talk, and I want to say thank you to all of you, because for maybe five minutes we have given this lady a moment to talk.”

Dion is an incredibly classy and kindhearted woman, so it’s not surprising that she handled this challenging moment in such a dignified way. But, what was surprising is the media’s description of the event.

“Celine Dion uses the power of love to deal with drunk fan”. “Celine Dion is a model of kindness”.

While it is true that Dion was a model of kindness, she was also a victim of assault — something no one seems to be talking about.

In an age where women are standing up and telling their #MeToo stories, the media needs to be harsher in exposing instances, no matter how small, in which women and men are being harassed. This fan did not have Dion’s permission to touch her or gyrate against her body.

Sexual assault is described as sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent. Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks. Gyrating against another person’s body would absolutely fall within these definitions.  

In the video, at one moment, Dion asks the woman “can I touch you”, and she takes her hand and walks her to centre stage. There was consent in that moment for that particular form of physical contact. There was no consent for this fan to start humping Dion on stage, even if Dion was open to keeping her on stage. Just like an invitation into someone’s house isn’t an invitation for sex, an invitation on stage is not an invitation for physical contact.

I also wonder if these headlines would have read differently if the fan was a man? Is it less of an incident because it was a woman gyrating against another woman?

If 2018 is the year of TIME’S UP — it has to be universal. Just because you are a celebrity or an entertainer, doesn’t mean it is okay to be attacked by a fan. It doesn’t mean you should have to handle it with dignity and class. And it doesn’t mean the rules are different for men and women.

This incident, no matter how compassionately it was dealt with, was assault — and it’s time to start describing it that way.

Featured image by celebrityabc.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

5 kickass moments for women at the Golden Globes

Who watched the Golden Globes Sunday night?

I’m not a big fan of award shows. Honestly, I only watch them to enjoy the entertainment or the fashion. I like movies and television, but often I sit down to watch my PVR shows months, or even years, after they were cool. This year, however, I watched the Golden Globes for another reason — I wanted to see the impact of the TIME’S UP Campaign.

Last week, women within the entertainment industry joined forces with activists, lawyers, and farmworkers, to form the initiative TIME’S UP, which will fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces. They called for everyone attending the Golden Globes to wear black in solidarity.

It was also the first award show to be broadcast since the #MeToo campaign picked up force last year. This led to some highly political, and inspirational moments. Even host Seth Meyers began his monologue with the following statement: “Good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen. It’s 2018. Marijuana is finally allowed, and sexual harassment finally isn’t.”

Here are the top moments for women at the Golden Globes:

Oprah’s speech: Oprah Winfrey was honoured with the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement, making her the first black woman to receive it. If this wasn’t enough, in typical Oprah fashion, she stood up and presented a 10-minute speech about race, women, and inspiration that resulted in numerous standing ovations.

I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military…For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.

Here are all the male nominees: While presenting the award for best director, Actress Natalie Portman added in a very poignant line: “And here are the all-male nominees.” Female directors don’t often get nominated for their work, and this year was no exception (surprising considering TIME’S UP). There were three female directors who helped produce some amazing films this year — Greta Gerwig; Ladybird, Des Rees; Mudbound, and Patty Jenkins; Wonder Woman — who at least deserved a nomination. Portman’s unexpected ad-lib was the talk of the Internet.

The Handmaiden’s Tale: Elizabeth Moss won best actress for her role in The Handmaiden’s Tale, based off the novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The series takes place in a dystopian future in which America women are enslaved and forced to act as child bearers following a fertility pandemic. Women are treated as lower beings, torn from their families, raped, and forced to serve higher men. Season two of The Handmaiden’s Tale is set to be released in April. “Margaret Atwood, this is for you and all of the women who came before you, and after you, who were brave enough to speak out against intolerance and injustice and to fight for equality and freedom in this world,” she said. The show, which was filmed in Toronto, also won for best television series. The director thanked everyone for working hard to make sure the show doesn’t become a reality.

A sea of black attire: TIME’S UP called for celebrities to wear black to the Golden Globes, and they responded in force! I can count the number of people not wearing black on one hand — at least from what I saw. This also included men, many of whom were wearing the TIME’S UP pin, the must-have “political accessory” of the awards show, as the New York Times called it.

The anti-celebs: There were some faces on the red carpet most people didn’t recognize. They were the activists, lawyers, and farm workers. They were the women who don’t typically get their photo taken or have their names printed in the papers. A number of celebrities chose to bring one of these women as their special guest, providing them with a platform to discuss their causes. Here were the activists present on the red carpet:

  • Marai Larasi, executive director of Imkaan, a British network of organizations working to end violence against black and minority women.
  • Tarana Burke, senior director of the nonprofit Girls for Gender Equity.
  • Saru Jayaraman, a workplace-justice advocate for restaurant workers.
  • Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
  • Monica Ramirez, who fights sexual violence against farmworkers.
  • Rosa Clemente,  Puerto Rican activist & journalist.
  • Billie Jean King, founder of the Women’s Tennis Association.
  • Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish Tribe member, singer and activist for Native American treaty and water rights.

It did feel a little strange to be honest, to have celebrities parade around with an activist on their arm, almost as if they were saying “see, I’m helping too!” At the same time, it provided these women with a platform to speak during primetime.

All in all, not too shabby for a few hours of late night television.

Featured Image provided by NBC.

What did you think of the Glden Globes? Let us know in the comments below!

Woman of the Week: Michele Romanow

Michele Romanow is best known for her role as a “Dragon” on CBC’s hit television show Dragon’s Den. Her passion, tenacity, and knack for numbers has made her a driving force on the show — and an investor everyone wants to have backing their team.

What sets Romanow apart from her co-stars is her focus on the individual. If she is going to invest in a business or a company, she wants to get to know the people behind the project.

“I think as tempting as it is to look at the exact business on hand, I inspect the entrepreneurs themselves,” she said in an interview with Women’s Post. “You are looking for someone with a chip on their shoulder. Someone who needs to win. There are so many pivots and turns when you start a business, you want someone who is going to make it work.”

Beyond the “Den”, Romanow is a tech titan and serial entrepreneur who knows how to spot an opportunity. By her 28th birthday, she had already started three different companies across different industries.

She began her career as a civil engineering student at Queen’s University, a tough program that taught her how to problem solve. Romanow had an interest in math and science, but it wasn’t until she helped launch a sustainable, zero consumer waste café on campus that she realized she had a passion for business. Her goal was to convince the administration that her pitch wasn’t about a food service, but rather a sustainability project important to the development of the school. She raised most of the capital herself and the café — called The Tea Room — remains a fixture on campus to this day.

Since then, Romanow has jumped from project to project, solving problems and building new ventures.

“The power that you have [as an entrepreneur] is enormous,” she said. “I think the fun is in solving problems you don’t want to see in your world.”

Her second business was Evandale Caviar, a fishery based in New Brunswick that distributed high-end, Canadian sturgeon caviar to luxury hotels. Unfortunately, the business fell apart in the 2008 recession.

Since then, Romanow has launched a number of incredibly successful businesses. She is the co-founder of Buytopia.ca, Snap by Groupon, and Clearbanc. Clearbanc is Romanow’s most recent venture — an online financial service that makes it easier for entrepreneurs to get capital to grow their own company.

Romanow also helps craft digital solutions for international brands like P&G, Netflix, Starbucks, and Cirque du Soleil. She was a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award; the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards; and was a Cartier Women’s Initiative Award global finalist. Romanow is listed as one of the top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada and was named as one of the Forbes Top 20 Most Disruptive “Millennials on a Mission”.

You would think she is a person who loves to be busy and have numerous things on the go, but Romanow is passionate about her work and doesn’t like to “be busy for the sake of busy”. She would rather get things done and spend her time on something that matters.

In July of 2017, Romanow partnered with Ruma Bose and Richard Branson to launch the Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative. The goal is to showcase Canadian entrepreneurs and offer assistance to those starting out.

“How do we create more Canadian success stories, especially women,” Romanow asked. “Almost half of Canadians can’t name an entrepreneur they look up to.”

Clearbanc is committing $1 million to finance small businesses and help create those success stories.

In addition to all of these projects, Romanow makes time to mentor women and offer advice to young entrepreneurs. Her biggest piece of advice? Just do it!

“Overplanning can be a detriment,” she said. “My first piece of advice to people is that you have to get started now. Most people think about and analyze businesses for a long time, but it’s important to start to move it. The first idea never ends up being the business that works, but the process allows you to get there.”

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Is it ‘TIME’S UP’ for the 2017 feminist movement?

Women in the entertainment industry — including actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria; lawyer Nina L. Shaw; actress Reese Witherspoon; producer Shonda Rhimes; and lawyer Tina Tchen, to name a few — have come together to form an initiative that will fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces.

You may be thinking: sure, a whole bunch of famous people have come together to do some fundraising, big deal?! This happens a few times a year. But, in reality, the initiative TIME’S UP is much more than a pet project spearhead by a select number of privileged people. Instead of focusing on the sensationalist media coverage of the #MeToo movement, the initiative provides real support for victims and calls for new legislation that will penalize companies that tolerate sexual harassment.

As the initiative’s website says, “TIME’S UP is a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere. From movie sets to farm fields to boardrooms alike, we envision nationwide leadership that reflects the world in which we live.”

After the social campaigns and the marches — this call for political and legal change is the next logical step. Ironically, it was a group of victims rather than those elected to lead our nations who stood up to call for this change.

TIME’S UP will provide a legal defence fund, based on $13 million in donations, to help less privileged men and women protect themselves from the fallout of reporting sexual misconduct. The fund will be administered by the National Women’s Law Centre, which has a network of lawyer and public relations professionals available to provide assistance.

The initiative is also calling for an increase of women (including members of the LGBTQ community and people of colour) in positions of power across all industries, as well as equal representation, benefits, and pay. Perhaps North America can follow Iceland, who made equal pay mandatory on Jan. 1. Every single company in Iceland now has to obtain a certification saying that men and women are being paid equally in similar positions.

Can you imagine every company in North America needing to obtain proof of pay equality? It’s the stuff of dreams.

TIME’S UP was formed after 700,000 female farmworkers sent messages and letters to celebrities throughout the entertainment industry following the allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo social media campaign. “Even though we work in very different environments, we share a common experience of being preyed upon by individuals who have the power to hire, fire, blacklist and otherwise threaten our economic, physical and emotional security,” they wrote. “In these moments of despair, and as you cope with scrutiny and criticism because you have bravely chosen to speak out against the harrowing acts that were committed against you, please know that you’re not alone. We believe and stand with you.”

The TIME’S UP website leads with a letter written to show support for those farmworkers, in which over 300 people within the entertainment industry acknowledge their suffering and stand with them to try and help change the system.

The initiative is volunteer-led and doesn’t have a leadership team. It is comprised instead of smaller working groups, each one tackling a certain area. For example, one group is creating a framework to end sexual harassment in show business while another is reviewing legislation that will tackle abuse within businesses, including the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims.

About half of men think women are well-represented in leadership, despite the numbers that show otherwise. When the #MeToo campaign started to trend, most men couldn’t fathom how many women had been sexually assaulted.

2017 may have been labelled as the year for feminism and women’s rights, but nothing actually changed. Perhaps more people are aware of the situation than before, but there was no legislation promised by politicians and no guarantees made by industry management.

There is still a lot that needs to change in order to ensure gender equality — and our time is not up!

 Featured Image by Vini.

Toronto has a directory of ‘Women and Color’

Have you attended a technology conference or speaking series and noticed the gender parity within the audience? How about on the panels or the keynote speaker lists?

Over the past year, I’ve attended a number of conferences within the fields of technology, marketing, and business. I was startled to see so few women represented. In the crowd, there was often one table or two of women, all clumped together and isolated from everyone else. Those women who were part of the panels, were often asked the questions about gender in the workplace, as if they were token members

And this is just women as a whole gender. I can count the number of women of colour who took the stage on one hand. While feminism may have been the word of the year in 2017, STEM fields still have a long way to go in achieving gender and race equality.

When I read about ‘Women and Color’, a directory of women and people of colour who are available to speak at such conferences, I was floored! How has this database existed for two years without people knowing about it?

The directory was created by a product designer named Mohammed Asaduallah, who was just as frustrated as many women to find the lack of diversity within the tech industry. Asaduallah and a team of volunteers help maintain the site by adding in new profiles of women in Toronto. The profiles include a photograph, job title, a short description of the person’s expertise through tag words, contact information, and a link to their Twitter account.

Asaduallah hopes to grow Women and Color and add profiles from cities across Canada and even venture into the United States.

 

At your next conference or speaking series, perhaps consider reaching out to one of the numerous qualified women in this directory. It’s time to stop using women as “tokens” at technology events and start seeing them as the qualified and capable experts they are.

Happy New Year from Women’s Post

From the staff at Women’s Post, we would like to wish you a Happy New Year!

2017 wasn’t the greatest, but there were a few good things that arose from the confusion and tragedy. In our letter to Santa, Women’s Post rounded up our wishes and desires for the next year — but now, many of us have come to the realization that it may take a little more than a Christmas miracle to achieve those goals of gender equality.
Can everyone make a pledge? No matter what your New Year’s resolution, promise us that you won’t settle. Promise us you will speak up if you see an injustice. Promise us you will fight for that promotion or raise. But, most of all, promise us you will support others instead of tearing them down — especially women! If everyone works towards those goals, Women’s Post is hopeful that 2018 is going to be much better!

 

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‘Feminism’ is the word of 2017

Merriam-Webster has announced their Word of the Year for 2017: feminism!

While the term may not have been included in Google’s most searched words this year, it was the centre of many discussions, arguments, and protests over the last 12 months. Here at Women’s Post, the term is used weekly.

Webster’s said the word “feminism” was a word looked up constantly throughout the year, “with several spikes that correspond to various news reports and events.” Events that sparked an increase in searches included the Women’s March in Washington, when U.S. President Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway claimed she wasn’t a feminist, and the #MeToo movement that has rocked the entertainment industry. And of course, there were television shows like The Handmaiden’s Tale that explored a number of women’s issues and inspired women to become more active in politics.

According to Webster’s definition of the word, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

On average, the term was looked up 70 per cent more often than in 2016.

Some of the words searched in Webster’s include:

  • Complicit: “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.” Remember when Ivanka Trump was accused of being complicit to her father’s actions int he White House and she claimed not to know what the word meant? I’m sure she does now!
  • Dotard: a person in his or her dotage” (dotage is “a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness”). The term was used in a news release in North Korea to describe U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • Syzygy: “the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system.” The term was searched during the December super moon, which was partially caused by this phenomenon.
  • Gaffe: “a noticeable mistake.” Anyone else remember the 2017 Academy Awards?
  • Empathy: “the ability to share another person’s feelings.” This term as searched in response or in relation to political decisions this year, as well as the #MeToo social media campaign. I don’t know about you, but I think more people should be looking up the definition of empathy.