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  • March 02, 2023 7:06 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Hyperallergic

    An image of a swastika was found taped up to a fence near the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on Monday, February 13. LACMA security officers saw the sign near a service entrance around 7:15am and proceeded to remove it before reporting the incident to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). In a video posted on Twitter by CBC Radio journalist Samira Mohyeddin, the design as seen from one angle appears to depict the emblem of the Islamic Republic of Iran, transforming into the swastika as one walks by it.

    A LACMA spokesperson told Hyperallergic that the museum has since increased security protocols. “LACMA strongly condemns all forms of hate, racism, and antisemitism,” the spokesperson said.

    An LAPD detective, Ozzie Delgadillo, told the Shalhevet High School newspaper The Boiling Point, which first reported the story, that video surveillance showed an individual placing red, white, and black adhesive materials on the bars of a fence at S Fairfax Avenue and 6th Street.

    The LAPD has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s request for comment.

    Initially, there were questions about whether or not the vandalism had actually taken place. Security officers at the Academy Museum told Boiling Point that they investigated one complaint that morning but were unable to locate the swastika image. LAPD wondered if the design had been doctored or projected. LACMA later confirmed that one of its security guards found and removed the banner. 

    Jacqueline Stewart, director and president of the Academy Museum, condemned the presence of the symbol on the fence, which is next to the institution’s campus. 

    “We are firmly against all forms of hate speech and are committed to creating a welcoming and respectful environment for all our visitors,” Stewart told Hyperallergic. “We have turned over all evidence to the Los Angeles Police Department, [which] has opened an investigation into this hate crime.”

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  • February 15, 2023 7:25 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    There have been 40 mass shootings in the United States so far this year. These attacks left 73 people dead and scores injured, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive through the morning of 25 January. The archive defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people were injured or killed.

    In the past week alone, there were eight mass shootings, including at a ballroom dance hall in California; at a club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and during an allegedly targeted home invasion in Chicago, Illinois. Another California shooting—this time at two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay—left seven people dead after the suspect allegedly targeted his own workplace. 

    While many of these attacks were on a smaller scale, “attracting little to no attention beyond the areas where they took place,” The New York Times noted, the number of mass shootings in the United States seem to spawn more attacks, whether driven by copycats, radicalization, or the vast number of weapons available. Researchers and government officials are continuing to track these incidents and look for trends to help communities mitigate risks and respond to potential threats.

    Finding Commonalities in Mass Attacks 

    While no two mass attacks are the same, half of these incidents in the United States from 2016 to 2020 were sparked by personal, domestic, or workplace disputes or grievances, according to a U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center report released today.

    The report, Mass Attacks in Public Spaces: 2016-2020, analyzed 173 targeted attacks in public or semi-public locations, such as schools, houses of worship, and businesses, and the attack types included shootings, vehicle ramming attacks, and other methods of mass violence. These attacks resulted in physical harm to 1,747 people—including 513 who were killed.

    Attackers’ grievances were most often related to a personal factor (27 percent), such as bullying, stress related to health or finances, ongoing feuds with neighbors, or feelings of victimization. In 17 percent of cases, grievances were related to current or former domestic relationships; in 10 percent of cases, grievances were workplace-related. Other motivations included ideological, bias-related, or political beliefs (18 percent); psychotic symptoms (14 percent), a desire to kill (7 percent), and fame or notoriety (6 percent).

    The report found that the majority of attacks (69 percent) occurred in public locations that are freely accessible, 34 percent occurred in semi-public spaces such as workplaces or educational institutions. The most common locations for mass attacks were businesses (51 percent, or 88 attacks), followed by open spaces (35 percent) like outdoor events, streets, sidewalks, and parking lots. Thirteen attacks took place at educational institutions.

    In 53 percent of the attacks, the attacker had no known affiliation with the location—some appeared to open fire randomly while others selected target locations for what they represented or offered. In the remaining cases, though, the attacker was affiliated with the site—13 percent were current or former employees, and 9 percent were customers or clients.

    “In some cases, attackers were affiliated with a site indirectly through another person, for example, by selecting a family member’s restaurant or the workplace of a former romantic partner,” the report said.

    In 68 percent of attacks, the perpetrator did not appear to aim at specific individuals and instead directed harm toward random people. In some cases, however, the targeting was based on gender, religion, race or ethnicity, or toward members of specific groups such as police officers or homeless people. In the remaining third of incidents, attackers had one or more specific targets in mind. In nearly all of these attacks, at least one preselected target was harmed, and in most (45 out of 55) at least one random victim was harmed.

    “The specific targets included current or former romantic partners, current or former coworkers, and family members,” the report said. “In some cases (n = 10, 6 percent), the attackers targeted people were connected to one of these individuals, such as their ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend, their wife’s divorce attorney, or their in-laws. Other targets included bullies at school or individuals with whom the attackers had a grievance, such as neighbors.”

    How did these incidents end, though? It depends on who was being targeted.

    The researchers found that attackers targeting specific individuals were more likely to end the attack on their own (78 percent vs. 42 percent of attackers without named targets). The majority of attackers who were stopped by external forces—law enforcement or bystanders—were targeting random individuals (86 percent vs. 60 percent of attacks ended by other means).

    Troubling Signs

    One of the goals of the report is to promote proactive behavioral threat assessment to prevent targeted acts of violence.

    The researchers outlined a variety of observable, concerning behaviors along the pathway to violence, indicating that “targeted violence is preventable when communities are equipped with the appropriate tools, training, and resources to intervene before violence occurs. Behavioral threat assessment programs are critical components of these community violence prevention efforts. These programs are not designed to predict who will become violent, but rather to identify, assess, and intervene with individuals who display threatening or other concerning behaviors that indicate they may pose a risk of harm to themselves or others.”

    This upsetting behavior is common—most attackers exhibited signs that elicited concern from family members, friends, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and others. In many cases, those individuals feared for their safety or the safety of others. Many attackers also had a history of physically aggressive or intimidating behaviors, and many experienced stressful events across various life domains, including family or romantic relationships, personal issues, employment, and legal issues, the report found.

    The 180 attackers studied in the report had a few traits in common. Demographically, 96 percent were male, 47 percent were white non-Hispanic, and 34 percent were Black. One-third were known to be employed at the time of the attack, and 21 percent were unemployed (employment status could not be determined for 47 percent of attackers).

    Regarding job loss, 29 percent of attackers had at least one voluntary or involuntary job loss prior to their attacks; most within five years of the attack and eight within one month. For three attackers, their employment ended the same day as the attack. One attacker “opened fire during a disciplinary meeting after being told he was going to be fired,” the report said.

    Nearly two-thirds of attackers had prior criminal histories—not including minor traffic violations. More than one-third had faced charges for violent offences, such as domestic violence, aggravated assault, robbery, or animal cruelty. Many of the attackers (43 percent) exhibited criminal behavior that was unknown to law enforcement, including domestic violence. Across all 180 attackers included in the report, 73 had a history of engaging in at least one incident of domestic violence.

    Fixations (intense or obsessive preoccupations with a person, activity, or belief) were also frequently seen among attackers—29 percent engaged in these behaviors, primarily aimed toward current or former romantic partners, the attackers’ beliefs, personal delusions, and prior mass attacks. In addition, 21 percent of attackers showed an excessive or inappropriate interest in violence—including an obsession with weapons.

    Conspiratorial, topic-specific, or hate-focused belief systems were observed in 26 percent of attackers (note: these beliefs were not always related to the attacker’s motive). Gender-based biases and extreme misogyny were observed in 19 percent of attackers; 8 percent engaged in online misogynistic behavior. At least six of the attackers became radicalized through online engagement, but overall 23 percent of attackers were “found to have conveyed concerning communications online, such as threats to harm others and posts referencing suicidal ideations, previous mass shootings, violent content, and hate toward a particular ethnic group.”

    In addition, 15 of the attackers engaged in known hate speech toward an individual or a group—most frequently focused on white supremacist or anti-Semitic beliefs. The report found that “most of the attackers who engaged in hate speech were motivated by their ideology to commit their attack.”

    Fifty-two of the attackers were socially isolated. More than one-third had a history of bullying or harassing others.

    One-third of attackers had a history of using illicit drugs, misusing prescription medication, or abusing a substance (including alcohol or marijuana). In 12 percent of attacks, the perpetrators were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the attack.

    While the report is careful to note that the vast majority of people in the United States affected by mental health issues do not commit acts of crime or violence, researchers found that 58 percent of the attackers experienced mental health symptoms prior to or at the time of their attacks. A quarter of the attackers had suicidal thoughts prior to their attacks.

    “For one-quarter of the attackers, others expressed or demonstrated concern over their mental health, having observed behaviors that appeared indicative of depression, paranoia, anxiety, or a deterioration of their general mental or emotional well-being,” the report said.

    Stressors and Signals

    Three-quarters of attackers exhibited behaviors that elicited concern in others before their attacks. In 64 percent of cases, the behavior was so objectively concerning or prohibited, it should have been met with an immediate response, but for 22 percent of attackers, “the behavior or communication was not reported to anyone in a position to respond, demonstrating a continued need to promote and facilitate bystander reporting,” the report noted.

    Overall, two-thirds of attackers engaged in threatening or concerning communications—both online and offline—prior to their attacks. One-third of attackers who made threatening communications directed those threats toward the intended target.

    But not all communication or behavior reaches that level of direct concern—52 percent of attackers displayed concerning activity that would require additional information and analysis to understand the level of concern needed.

    “These contextually concerning behaviors can be described as part of a constellation of lower-level behaviors,” the report said. This includes unusual statements, erratic behaviors, increased anger, and uncharacteristic changes in appearance, demeanor, or behavior.

    The report listed specific categories of concern, noting that 54 percent of attackers exhibited behavior from three or more of these categories, and 46 percent exhibited behaviors from one or two:

    • Demeanor or mental well-being, including sudden displays of intense anger, erratic behavior, and possible changes in mental health

    • Disturbing communications and direct threats

    • Physical violence

    • Stalking or harassing

    • Weapons-related actions

    • Violent or unusual interests

    • Self-harm

    • Changes in behavior

    • Isolating or withdrawing

    • Substance use or abuse

    Who was most likely to notice risk factors and demonstrate concern? Family members are the primary force here, with 70 percent of attackers eliciting concern from family, followed by others known by the attacker (employers, coworkers, neighbors, or school staff).

    But did these groups take action? In many cases, yes—before 93 percent of the attacks studied, someone took overt action. In 68 percent of cases, someone confronted the attacker about their behavior or discouraged those behaviors; in 61 percent of cases, someone reported the behavior to a person in a position to respond. In 58 percent of cases, people took more cautious action, including expressing concern, asking others to help, or protecting themselves or others.

    The report concluded that for more than 25 years, research from the National Threat Assessment Center has “demonstrated that these acts of violence are rarely spontaneous and are almost always preceded by warning signs that are observed by family members, coworkers, classmates, neighbors, and others across the community. Future tragedies are preventable if the appropriate community systems are in place to identify and intervene when community members report these concerns, and the U.S. Secret Service stands ready to support our community partners in this vital public safety mission.”

    See Original Post

  • February 15, 2023 7:24 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from CNBC

    More than a dozen abortion opponents sued the National Archives and Records Administration and the National Air and Space Museum after security guards there ordered them to remove or hide clothing with “pro-life” messages during separate visits while attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C., last month.

    Both NARA and the federally funded Smithsonian Institution, which operates the museum, issued statements on the lawsuits and apologized for the incidents, which occurred months after the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion.

    Both statements admitted that the security guards were wrong on Jan. 20 to demand they hide or remove the “pro-life” messages while touring the archives and the museum.

    NARA is home to the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and other historically significant documents. The Air and Space Museum is the largest of the Smithsonian’s museums. Both entities are located along the Mall in Washington.

    “As the home to the original Constitution and Bill of Rights, which enshrine the rights of free speech and religion, we sincerely apologize for this occurrence,” NARA said.

    “NARA policy expressly allows all visitors to wear t-shirts, hats, buttons, etc. that display protest language, including religious and political speech,” the statement said. “We are actively investigating to determine what happened,” NARA said it would not comment on the suit itself.

    The Smithsonian in its statement said, “A security officer mistakenly told young visitors that their pro-life hats were not permitted in the museum. Asking visitors to remove hats and clothing is not in keeping with our policy or protocols. We provided immediate retraining to prevent a re-occurrence of this kind of error.”

    “The Smithsonian welcomes all visitors without regard to their beliefs,” the statement said. “We do not deny access to our museums based on the messages on visitors’ clothing.”

    The suits, filed earlier this week in Washington, D.C. federal court, allege the plaintiffs’ civil rights under the First and Fifth amendments of the U.S. Constitution were violated by the NARA, the museum and unidentified security officers on Jan. 20. The March for Life, which opposes abortion, was occurring the same day.

    The First Amendment prohibits governments and their agencies from restricting free speech, and the Fifth Amendment guarantees citizens equal protection under the laws.

    The plaintiffs in the suits are being represented by lawyers from the American Center for Law & Justice, a conservative, Christian organization.

    The suit against the Air and Space Museum said the nearly dozen Catholic plaintiffs were students, parents or chaperones of Our Lady of the Rosary Church and School in Greenville, South Carolina.

    All of the plaintiffs were wearing blue hats with the inscription “Rosary Pro-Life,” the suit says. The complaint said they were told to remove those hats are various times and locations in the musuem.

    One guard allegedly told several of the plaintiffs, Y’all are about to make my day,” and added, “You’ve been told multiple times to take your hats off, and you have not taken them off. You need to take them off or leave.”

    That guard allegedly said, the First Amendment “does not apply here.”

    The suit against NARA says, “On January 20, 2023, each of the Plaintiffs visited the National Archives to view those documents that affirm their God-given right to free speech, expression, and their exercise of religious beliefs.”

    The adult plaintiffs did not know each other before the lawsuit was filed, the suit says.

    Two of the plaintiffs, a Michigan woman identified as Tamara R., and her 17-year-old daughter L.R., were there with a group of about 15 students and parents from L.R.’s Catholic high school, the suit says.

    The mother is suing on behalf of her daughter, who “holds a deeply religious belief that she has a religious and moral obligation to speak out against the abortion of innocent babies,” the suit says.

    Another plaintiff, Wendilee Walpole Lassiter, is a Virginia resident and Protestant who was with a group of students from her private religious school, Liberty University School of Law, the suit says.

    The other plaintiff, Terrie Kallal, is an Illinois resident and a “devout Catholic,” according to the suit.

    When L.R., her mom and fellow classmates were in the building’s Rotunda, where the Bill of Rights is housed, a security guard approached them and told L.R. and the other students “to remove all pro-life attire,” the suit says.

    L.R. was specifically told to cover her shirt, which said, “Life is a Human Right,” and not to unzip the jacket over it until she left the National Archives, according to the suit.

    The guard told her classmates to remove buttons and hats carrying pro-life messages, the suit alleges. One hat said “LIFE always WINS,” and another said, “ProLife,” according to the suit.

    “Plaintiff L.R. communicated to a friend via Snapchat while still inside the National Archives, ‘he told me to take off my pro-life pin as I was standing next to the constitution that literally says Freedom of Speech on it,’” the suit alleges.

    L.R. later says three different National Archives employees inside the gift shop confronted her classmates and told them to “immediately” remove their pro-life clothing.

    During Lassiter’s visit, a guard approached her when she passed through a metal detector and ordered her to remove her sweatshirt, which said, “I am the post-Roe Generation: Law Students for Life,” according to the lawsuit.

    The guard told her: “You have to take your shirt off. Your shirt will incite others,” and “would cause a disturbance. You’re disturbing the peace,” the suit says.

    Lassiter, who complied, said she later saw two other Archives visitors wearing what appeared to be messages supporting abortion rights, one of which said, “My Body, My Choice,” and “Pro-Choice,” according to the suit.

    The other plaintiff, Kallal, said she and her granddaughter likewise were told to cover up their t-shirts, one of which said “MARCH 4 LIFE 2014: Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group, Glen Carbon, IL,” the other which said, “Pro-life generation.”

    One guard told them, “Your clothing is offensive. You must zip up your coats or take off your shirts,” the suit said.

    Kallal later saw other students leaving the building after being told to cover their pro-life message clothing, saying “they would rather leave than give up their right to free speech,” according to the lawsuit.

    NARA, in its statement Friday, said “early indications are that our security officers quickly corrected their actions and, from that point forward, all visitors were permitted to enter our facility without needing to remove or cover their attire.”

    NARA said it has reminded all of its security staff at locations nationwide “of the rights of visitors in this regard.”

    See Original Post

  • February 15, 2023 7:22 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from ArtNet News

    Three members of a prominent German crime syndicate have admitted to playing parts in the historic Green Vault heist.

    The confessions came in a regional court in Dresden, where six suspects are on trial for their alleged participation in the night-time theft of $123 million worth of jewels from the city’s Grünes Gewölbe—or Green Vault—museum in 2019.

    As part of sentencing deal, one of the defendants, Rabieh Remmo, admitted in a statement that he and an unnamed accomplice broke into the institution in the early hours of November 25, 2019, according to the Associated French Press

    “My contribution to the crime was larger than I first said,” Remmo said, alluding to a partial confession he gave last year. “I was, myself, in the rooms of the Green Vault.”

    Inside, Remmo and his partner used an ax to smash a vitrine holding numerous prized jewels, many of which date back to the late 1700s and were once owned by Saxony’s 18th-century ruler, Augustus the Strong, who founded the museum.

    The thieves stashed the jewels in a sack, then used a fire extinguisher to erase traces of their DNA at the scene. Remmo and his co-conspirator fled the scene with other accomplices, burned their getaway car in a parking garage, then drove to Berlin in a vehicle disguised as a taxi.

    Authorities in Germany announced last month that they retrieved 31 items stolen in the Green Vault heist after being pointed to their location as part of a deal with the suspect on trial. Other historically significant objects stolen in 2019—including the 49-carat Dresden White Diamond—remain missing. 

    “I didn’t keep the loot. I didn’t have access to it,” Remmo said in court. “I don’t know what happened to it. I did all I could to ensure that what was left came back to Dresden.”

    Two other suspects on trial, Wissam and Mohamed Remmo, also confessed to aiding the robbery. In statements read by their respective attorneys, the men explained that they didn’t enter the museum but instead waited outside as lookouts. 

    A fourth defendant is expected to present a statement of his own in court this week, as part of a sentencing deal. Another suspect rejected the deal, while a sixth and final suspect on trial claims he did not participate in the theft. 

    The defendants, all members of the extended Remmo crime family, have been on trial since January 2022. They face charges related to aggravated gang theft and serious arson, according to Dresden’s public prosecutor’s office.

    Last week, the court recommended jail sentences that ranged in time from four years and nine months to six years and nine months. Hearings will continue later this week.

    See Original Post

  • February 15, 2023 7:19 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    The official report concerning the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy—The Warren Commission Report—was published in 1964 by a special commission established by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The commission’s investigation and subsequent report determined that, acting alone, Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed Kennedy from a sniper’s nest on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, Texas.

    However, the JFK assassination has generated one of the largest enduring conspiracy theories, with theorists asserting that Oswald did not act alone, or that the CIA, the Italian Mafia, the KGB, or several other individuals or organizations were the true perpetrators behind Kennedy’s death. With the exception of Kennedy’s death, few other details of the incident are considered a certainty by conspiracy theorists. In fact, an Amazon search for books related to “jfk kennedy assassination” produces more than 2,000 results.

    It’s safe to say that investigators and security professionals are not unused to conspiracy theories and the attraction they can hold over many. But a growing number of modern-day conspiracy theories have been weaponized and widely spread through social media.

    During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, conspiracy theorists claimed that secretly coded messages via emails to or from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair connected various officials in the Democratic party to a human trafficking and child sex ring. One of the restaurants was Comet Ping Pong, a pizzeria in Washington, D.C.

    The allegations against the pizza joint (which also sometimes hosts live music events) found fertile ground on social media sites, including Twitter, Reddit, and 4chan. Social media posts included speculations and allegations that the pizzeria was running the trafficking operation out of the basement, launching a conspiracy theory known broadly as Pizzagate.

    Pizzagate has been extensively—perhaps even exhaustively—discredited and debunked by several organizations, including law enforcement. However, the theory connected with so many believers that the restaurant’s owner and staff were harassed and threatened. In December 2016, Edgar Welch traveled from his home in North Carolina to Comet Ping Pong with an automatic-style rifle, and he opened fired in the restaurant, hitting the walls. Welch ultimately surrendered to responding law enforcement, and no one was injured in the incident. He received a four-year prison term and was later released in May 2020.

    But Pizzagate remains. Gen Z users on TikTok discovered this conspiracy theory in 2020, right at a time when many people could not go to work or school and could only connect online due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

    Disinformation—false information intentionally spread—is not a new concern for businesses and organizations. However, the ability to spread disinformation globally, aggressively, and abundantly is a more recent development thanks to the Internet and social media.

    Multiple recent studies have found that there is a correlational relationship where social media use is positively associated with conspiracy theories and belief in misinformation or disinformation.

    “Opinion polarization and echo chambers appear as pivotal elements of communication around conspiracy theories.…The insurgence of echo platforms is a new online phenomenon that…could foster many dangerous phenomena that we observe online, including the spreading of conspiracy theories,” according to a study published in the October 2022 issue of Current Opinion in Psychology. 

    In part, social media platforms’ ability to operate as an echo chamber that can pull users into a specific narrative, such as a conspiracy theory.

    “Disinformation is as old as time. But now, with social media, anybody has a platform,” says Jeremy Plotnik, who previously worked in corporate communications and crisis communications and has studied the ramifications of fake news on businesses. “If they’re clever and know how to use hashtags effectively and they can do some basic SEO techniques, they can make much bigger noise than they normally would.”

    By June 2020, the World Health Organization coined the term “infodemic” to describe a glut of disinformation and misinformation about COVID-19 that spread globally, Security Management reported

    In 2021, QAnon—a political conspiracy theory group whose origins stem from Pizzagate—once again took up the call to save children from a Satanic cabal. This time the group alleged that online retailer Wayfair was trafficking children in the furniture depicted on the website.

    The theory gained traction as price anomalies for various pieces of furniture appeared on the e-seller’s website. And just like with Pizzagate, Wayfair employees were soon receiving threats, but the company was not the only organization that suffered from the disinformation campaign. According to The Washington Postanti-trafficking organizations were flooded with false tips and accusations while law enforcement investigating active and legitimate human trafficking rings were pulled into these allegations. This gained the conspiracy theory more media attention, exacerbating the stress on Wayfair and other organizations.

    Harassment of a business or organization via social media disinformation or Internet rumors has not been solely directed at Wayfair or Comet Ping Pong. Nor are these tactics exclusively used by groups like QAnon. Instead, the Internet has been weaponized by various groups and people, displaying a wide array of different agendas. Quite simply, Plotnik says, “Social media has really democratized the ability for people to attack a company.”

    With social media, an attacker no longer has to rely solely on breaching an organization’s physical or cyber perimeter—Twitter trolls can get the ball rolling, damaging a group’s reputation while the additional stress creates cracks that other attacks can widen.

    “In the social media realm, you have this environment where people are angry, are actively distrustful, cynical, and that give credence to what would otherwise be ridiculous rumors or stories without any evidence whatsoever. And then it builds on itself,” says Plotnik.

    Janet Lawless, CEO and founder of the Center for Threat Intelligence, adds that any organization should assume that it has a target on its back—whether it’s a competitor, nation state, or other organization fundamentally opposed to the organization.

    The Center for Threat Intelligence aims to support companies as they build strategies and frameworks that can help identify and buffer against a sophisticated attack. Such attacks often include some combination of elements of cyber, social media, insider threat, and physical security.

    “We try to get people to realize that it’s not just one thing,” Lawless says. With numerous tactics and potential social media sources or platforms for disinformation campaigns to leverage against an organization, it’s no easy task to protect an organization. But it is possible.

    “As more and more adversaries become more sophisticated, it becomes important for companies to become more sophisticated and for boards and executives to focus intention on it,” says Lawless.  “You have to anticipate things.”

    Monitor Smarter, Not in Silos

    Although reputation is its own form of currency for an organization, security expert Michael Gips, CPP, of Global Insights in Professional Security, LLC, notes that most companies lack a person or department that is clearly responsible for crafting and protecting brand reputation. “Reputation risk goes beyond security. It kind of touches upon every department in an organization, and no one is really responsible for it,” Gips says.

    This means security must reach out to other departments as part of an organization-wide campaign to create a holistic response against threats to the organization’s reputation. The issue, Gips says, needs to be addressed as one that affects and is affected by the organization’s entire culture.

    “You have to have an intelligence to track everything going on in your organization,” Lawless adds. “You can’t have silos anymore.”

    Stepping out of a siloed structure can do more than inform all staff how they can either support or damage an organization’s reputation with their words or actions. If done right, coordinating with marketing, human resources, or other departments could potentially identify appropriate language to use in response to various scenarios, recruit employees who can double as grassroots advocates, or even help identify and curb potential insider threats.

    And when it comes to misinformation or disinformation attacks lobbed from social media platforms, Lawless suggests that an organization should create a team tasked with identifying and responding to such threats.

    Given both the breadth and depth of social media platforms, security experts agreed that monitoring for threats in such environments is best left to machines and software. There are several services that can provide regular and tailored reports on emerging threats identified via social media and elsewhere on the Internet.

    However, at least one person should be responsible for analyzing the intelligence received from such services. Plotnik recommends that this person or team have a security background and be accustomed to running threat assessments.

    Beyond this team, all employees should be trained on how to spot and report a potential threat, even on social media, says Lawless.

    “If your staff isn’t trained in how to deal with the problem and how to give accurate answers and no misleading answers, you can open a Pandora’s Box,” says Gips.

    Gips pointed to a recent example where medical providers and other employees of Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., were harassed and threatened after a now-defunct TikTok account claimed the healthcare group performed hysterectomies on transgender minors.

    Adding fuel to that fire, one of the hospital’s staff seemed to publicly indicate that such procedures have been performed on minors. A hospital spokesperson later told Fox News that the staffer was not someone who delivered care to actual patients.

    Both Gips and Lawless noted that the more successful responses to such attacks were ones where security teams coordinate with other departments, addressing the issue as a matter that impacts an organization’s entire culture.

    Know Thy Enemy…and Thy Stakeholders

    What was true when Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War in the 5th century BCE remains true in the 21st—it is essential to understand your enemy, even on the virtual battlefield where the ammunition is tweets, likes, and shares.

    “It’s important to understand who the adversaries are and what their motivations are,” says Lawless. An organization’s response to damaging disinformation or misinformation is going to be very different if the attack is coming from a competitor or a disgruntled employee or a nation state.

    “There’s a plethora of channels that anybody can access; there’s a wide range of technologies that people can use, too. And the idea of making a deep fake of a corporate not outside the realm of possibility,” says Plotnik.

    While all hypothetical attackers might spoof a CEO’s account on social media in an effort to tarnish the organization’s brand, the motivations behind such an attack can vary. If, for example, a competitor is responsible, perhaps its interest is in influencing customers.

    But perhaps more importantly, once motivations behind an attack are made clear, an organization can tailor its recovery plan.

    The organization needs to understand which stakeholders were targeted and impacted by a disinformation attack, as well as what platforms these stakeholders are using. With that awareness, the messaging the organization delivers after an incident can help rebuild trust and reemphasize its culture and priorities.

    But it’s not a solution that appears by simply throwing money around. True efforts to rebuild trust with stakeholders go beyond corporate social responsibility (CSR) announcements. “If I had a dime for every time an executive told me, ‘Well, we’re doing CSR to rebuild trust,’ I’d be a wealthy person,” says Plotnik. CSR efforts after an organization’s brand has been damaged might make a stakeholder see the group as generous, but liking someone is not the same as trusting that person or group.

    “They might like you, they might think you’re nice people, but they might think that the local mafia boss is a nice person, too, because he gives a lot of money to the community. But they don’t necessarily trust him,” Plotnik says “...CSR only helps you with one element of trust.”

    Instead, identifying what kind of trust may have been lost can help in determining how trust is rebuilt or regained. Touting a product’s quality will not mitigate the social media blasts against a company that stands accused of violating labor laws. Directly tailoring the response to the issue will be much more effective.

    Depending on the issues, organizations can also work with certain partners to help rebuild trust with stakeholders. “Coordinate and work with groups that are respected by your stakeholders,” Plotniks says.

    Rapid Response to the Rabid Retweeting

    Once a rumor goes viral, it’s hard for it to slow down—even more so online. Which is why there should be a chapter in an organization’s crisis management book on responding to social media disinformation campaigns.

    “In this environment, speed is very important, which is why you should—as much as possible—have your protocols down for responding first,” Plotnik says.

    This section of the handbook should detail the team tasked with responding to the incident, include any pre-written documents that can help in a response to the public or other stakeholders, and identify which significant stakeholders should be contacted and in what order.

    The response team should also identify or include certain people within the organization who can act as a spokesperson, depending on the nature of the incident. While it might be appropriate for a company executive to represent an organization in one instance, the organization might make greater strides in regaining public trust in a different incident if a company scientist or engineer is answering media questions. In fact, according to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, more people today trust scientists over CEOs, journalists, and government leaders.

    But along with having an established set of protocols for a serious disinformation problem, an organization should be training its staff and running drills. When companies host crisis training events, disinformation should be one of the practiced scenarios, readying potential spokespersons and staff at-large, according to Plotnik.

    It’s unlikely that an organization can prepare for every aspect of a disinformation incident, but this kind of preparation can allow a company to generate a faster and more effective response.

    And when it comes to determining whether something will evolve into a full-blown incident, Plotnik recommends not instantly writing off what seems to be a ridiculous post, pointing to Pizzagate, the Wayfair scandal, and other conspiracy theories. “Companies might make the mistake that people are acting rationally and thinking rationally,” he adds.

    But rational thinking and behavior, especially in a security lens, should never be taken for granted. Instead, try to remember some of the more outlandish claims that went viral and damaged a business’s reputation, such as Wayfair, or societal or national campaigns, like the COVID-19 vaccine, he notes.

    People can concoct bizarre stories, and other people will listen to them, Plotnik says. “You might have important things on your mind…and yet you’re going to have to take time to deal with what you might reasonably consider to be lunacy. But take it seriously and deal with it. Otherwise, it will not go away.” 

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  • February 15, 2023 7:17 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from ArtNet News

    The drag queen who performed a storytelling event for children at Tate Britain that sparked a clash among protesters outside the museum said the readings teaching inclusivity were on “an important topic,” which he hoped would enable children to begin “living with their true selves.”

    During the event on Saturday, some 30 right-wing protesters led by white nationalist group Patriotic Alternative protested outside the museum, holding up signs that read “No drag for kids!” and “Leave our kids alone!” They were met by counter-protesters from antifascist group Stand Up To Racism, who turned up to support LGBTQ people’s rights and the storytelling event from Aida H Dee, who the museum describes as “the first drag artist in Europe to read stories to children in a nursery.”

    Violence erupted as the two groups of protesters clashed with each other, and five entered the museum to cause disruptions in parts of the building. A 53-year-old man from east London was arrested following the protests, and is accused of assault on an emergency worker, two homophobic offenses, and obstruction of a police officer. He has been held in custody and is due to appear in court on Monday.

    Speaking after the protests surrounding Drag Queen Story Hour U.K.,Sab Samuel, who performs as the drag artist and children’s author Aida H Dee, said the readings for children were “awesome” and uninterrupted despite the protests going on outside the London museum. But he was astonished by how the event got “completely blown out of proportion” by the protesters.

    When asked about why reading stories to children as a drag queen, Samuel told TalkTV’s Trisha Goddard on Sunday: “drag is fun. Why not?”

    The drag artist said he only wanted to become a “role model” that he wished he had when he was five years old. As a children’s books author, the storytelling events serve as “catalyst” for children to allow them to live with their true selves, he noted.

    “If I had been told that gay was fine, and it was a positive word, I wouldn’t have gone through a horrendous mental health battle just to get to the point now, where I don’t just tolerate myself. I love myself,” Samuel said.

    Earlier this year, nearly 4,000 people signed a petition launched by a group called Art Not Propaganda urging Tate to halt the event. The group did not participate in Saturday’s protests, but they accused Tate of “gender political carnage” and said the institution has “put themselves in the middle of it all without assessing the very real risks to visitors and children.”

    Tate has previously said that it does not program artists to promote certain points of view, and that visitors have the freedom to choose which aspect of the institution’s program they wanted to engage with. In response to Artnet News’s enquiry, a Tate spokesperson said that the gallery remained open to visitors throughout Saturday despite the protests, but the museum did not provide the number of visitors attending the readings.

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  • January 31, 2023 6:40 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from AAM

    As we work to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility among museum audiences and in the workplace, we need to attend to the needs of neurodiverse visitors and employees. In today’s post, Claire Madge, founder of the UK-based Autism in Museums, gives an overview of what museums can do, should do, and are doing, to support visitors and staff on the autism spectrum.

    –Elizabeth Merritt, VP Strategic Foresight and Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums.

    In 2012 I had just quit my job as a librarian to support my 7-year-old daughter after her autistic spectrum disorder diagnosis. We visited an event called Early Birds at the Science Museum. The museum opened up early at 8:00 a.m.; they kept the numbers low and provided visual support for visitors. Staff were trained in autism awareness and they had thought about the museum environment. For example, they turned off loud interactives and the hand dryers in the restrooms.

    This was the first time we had visited the museum as a family; I have three children and two are on the autism spectrum. We had a fantastic day out, something many families take for granted. I wrote a blog post about that day which has now been read over 5,000 times. The response to that post made me realize how many families need events like Early Birds and how many museum professionals need support and advice to put on programs that support autistic visitors.

    To help meet that need, I founded Autism in Museums, supporting, encouraging and working with museums to welcome autistic visitors to their spaces.

    Autism is a spectrum condition and the barriers that visitors face to accessing museums can vary and be difficult to predict. Crowded busy environments can be a challenge, as can overly bright or dark galleries, loud interactives, or audio that is triggered without warning. Wayfinding in museums can be a daunting prospect for autistic visitors, and the unwritten museum rules about what you can and can’t touch can be difficult to interpret for visitors who have a very literal interpretation of language.

    Being accessible is about much more than the physical environment. Around 70% of autistic children are in mainstream school and 44-52% of autistic people have learning difficulties. Thinking about displays and interpretation is as important as designing accessible lifts and ramps.

    There are huge benefits to museums in welcoming autistic visitors who often prove to be incredibly loyal, regularly returning as routine is often very important to them. Many autistic people have an intense focus on a particular topic or special interest, which means they are a real asset as volunteers and staff members. This focus was recently picked up in an article where a 10-year-old boy spotted an error in signage at the Natural History Museum.

    In the UK, several museums are taking a targeted approach to supporting autistic visitors. Some of the larger museums run early opening events which allow them to restrict the numbers of visitors. The Science Museum has been running a successful Early Birds program for many years and the Natural History Museum Dawnosaurs consistently books out its early opening events.

    Many museums, including the National Army Museum and Horniman Museum, are trialing this approach for the first time and invested funding in training staff and providing sensory backpacks to support visitors. Some museums have promoted their quieter visiting times. National Museums Liverpool run events in regular hours across a number of their museums during Sunday mornings when visitor numbers are generally lower.

    There is much museums can do even without early opening including. For example, providing materials that allow autistic visitors to prepare in advance for a visit, which helps to remove anxiety over visiting new places. The Museum of English Rural Life has worked in collaboration with local autism groups to provide a visual story and sensory map of their galleries. On their website they also have a Google Streetview tour. (You can find out more about how that was put together here.)

    Focusing on your website is a great first place to start, as many visitors with additional needs will research thoroughly before a visit. The Euan’s Guide Access Survey 2017 found that 95% of respondents sought disabled access information about a venue prior to visiting for the first time, and 85% stated that they checked the venue’s website to achieve this. The State of Museum Access Report 2018 produced by VocalEyes with contributions from Autism in Museums looked in detail at the access information provided for a number of different groups and gives advice and tips of the types of information to consider.

    Although museums are making great advances in serving autistic visitors, there are still gaps in provision, particularly for young adults and adults on the autism spectrum. The Science Museum recently ran a Night Owls sensory late night for visitors aged 16+, but there is very little out there for the older age range. Autism doesn’t just affect children, and often on leaving school there is little support for transition into work and further education for autistic young people and adults.

    Museums that undertake autism training find it not only creates an inclusive environment that benefits visitors, but it also improves the working environment for volunteers and staff. Figures from the National Autistic Society on autistic people in the workplace are depressing: only 16% of autistic adults work full-time compared to 47% of disabled people. This is despite the fact that 77% want to work.

    National Museums Liverpool, who were recently voted the number one most accessible visitor attraction in the UK by Revitalise, have been working with supported internships providing access to meaningful paid work placements across their departments for young people aged 16-24 with additional needs.

    These initiatives benefit everyone in the workplace by improving working practices for all staff. That is the salient point about all these initiatives: they benefit everyone, staff and visitors alike. Improving the information presented on your website and creating visual stories can support those with learning difficulties and dementia. Training and awareness for staff often impact life outside the work environment and benefit society as a whole.

    To find out more about Autism in Museums please visit our website where you can find some resources, blogs and events calendar. You can follow our work on Twitter @AutisminMuseums and on Instagram @AutisminMuseums

    If you would like to get in touch, need advice or want to share your autism initiatives via the blog you can email me Claire Madge –

    See Original Post

  • January 31, 2023 6:37 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    Are you an effective communicator? Good at delegating tasks? A calming presence even during challenging times? Then congratulations—you have all the makings of an excellent crisis manager. But these talents alone will not produce a good outcome during an incident.

    “Good crisis leadership happens when you plan for it,” says Lisa Zarzycki, director of corporate security for Daimler Truck North America, one of the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers. “It is imperative to have a team in place that understands their role in crisis could be different than their daily line role.”

    This goes beyond just the boardroom or the C-suite—preparation is key at the site level and frontlines as well. Zarzycki works in conjunction with the rest of the business to ensure that crisis management plans exist and are trained for at all sites and the corporate level. The corporate security team is strategically located throughout the United States and Mexico, so they regroup twice a year for crisis management exercises, and they go onsite to major locations to conduct hands-on training.

    “As we are a small team for the number of locations that we have in North America, it is imperative that each of us can pick up the ball as needed,” she says.

    Crisis response comes in two phases: acute and long-term, says Scott Fischer, CPP, CISSP, senior manager of global security for James Hardie Building Products, Inc. Acute responses are the immediate reaction of the organization to protect employees and infrastructure, but those are usually temporary bandages, not viable business solutions. Over the long-term, organizations will need to determine how to shift their responses from acute to more sustainable operations that align with strategic business priorities.

    Some organizations might doubt the need to include security in aspects of crisis response beyond the acute crisis response—when life safety is a priority—but security leaders are in a unique position to help with many types of hazards and challenges.

    “Security leaders typically have experience working under pressure and responding to crises, making them a valuable resource to any organization,” says James Mehta, chief security and compliance officer from Acuity International, a contractor that performs services for governments worldwide. “Frequently, a crisis involves threats to the business or its people whether from a natural disaster, terrorism, or workplace violence. Security leaders are comfortable dealing with routine threats and identifying the steps to eliminate or reduce those threats. Not all leaders have this experience.”

    Zarzycki concurs, noting that, “As security works across business lines and across corporate functions, we are in the perfect position to be the liaison.” 

    “In addition to basic crisis management skills, security leaders bring their knowledge of the business, their soft skills in terms of negotiation and organization and their ability to see the bigger picture,” she adds.

    This does not mean that security needs to lead crisis management teams, however. Mehta explains that during Acuity’s preparations to evacuate from Afghanistan in 2021, he served in a supporting role within the team. “I supported my decision maker the way I would want to be supported if I were making the decisions,” he says. “I set a daily operations tempo to track open actions and decisions, identify and include the right stakeholders from around the world, and anticipate emerging needs.  Facilitating this rhythm through a daily briefing simplified information sharing and kept all stakeholders informed.”

    While Mehta’s background is in the public sector—having spent 28 years in the U.S. Air Force—he believes leading through a crisis in the private sector requires the same skills and attributes. “The environments are different, and certainly, the cultures are different, but the universal qualities of leading an organization during a crisis are the same,” he says. “Leaders in both situations need to trust their people, be decisive, and communicate effectively.”

    Communication Skills

    During a crisis, the importance of frequent and concise communication cannot be exaggerated, Fischer says.

    “You have to keep people informed but not overcommunicate beyond what’s needed,” he adds. “Especially with senior leaders, you need to communicate in three to four sentences, or bullet points, to say, ‘here’s the update,’ and keep it at that. Then keep those updates flowing so that they stay plugged into the situation.”

    “During a crisis, it is critical that senior leaders are engaged with their team, decisive, and communicate clearly,” Mehta says. “Being engaged doesn’t mean the leader has to do everything themselves, but it requires them to trust their team to gather the right information, bring in the right partners, and make recommendations.”

    He continues, “The leader will never have enough information, but crises usually demand immediate decisions. Clear communication is vital during the chaos that naturally occurs during a crisis. This works both ways as information flowing up to the leader must be accurate and the leader’s decisive action directing the team must be clear and unambiguous.”

    For example, the COVID-19 pandemic affected operations globally for Daimler. So, the company activated regional and business line crisis management teams—led at the international level—which would waterfall information throughout the organization to inform better decisions during the crisis.

    “Working with our pyramid model of local at the base, regional in the middle, and corporate at the top, information flowed up and down throughout the organization with regularly scheduled virtual calls and meetings,” Zarzycki says. “This information sharing was critical to ensuring that risks were mitigated and strategic goals were aligned. Because the [crisis management teams] are usually led by the CEO or location manager, the top levels of management were engaged and able to make decisions in the best interest of the company and the team members.”

    This can become a bit of a balancing act, especially if an acute crisis becomes a long-term challenge, Fischer says. During a short-term crisis, the management team might surge resources and host twice-daily calls to update stakeholders on the situation. But crisis management leaders should constantly reassess what the organization needs.

    “You have to adapt to keep the team running and everyone engaged,” he adds. While at the start of a crisis, the entire organization may be ready to jump to attention and a crisis management team might have 12 people on daily calls, but that level of engagement is unlikely to last as priorities shift. As the organization comes to grips with the situation, people are likely to drop off of daily calls, and perhaps the crisis manager could shift to a daily email or a weekly. The goal, Fischer says, is to “get the right cadence for the right crisis and establish and maintain it, then you adjust as necessary.”


    The best incident manager is not an incident responder, Fischer says. “You can get pulled into doing stuff, and you’re so busy doing stuff that you’re not managing it.”

    But part of delegation is preparation—second-level leaders and deputies will not be ready to step into emergency roles unless they have been trained, supported, and encouraged to learn.

    People often forget to delegate as we move up, but the more you embed people in day-to-day interactions, the more prepared they are, Fischer adds. Second-level leaders can be given larger roles and responsibilities on both blue-sky days and during incidents to boost their confidence and experience to take charge if needed.

    “Leaders must always train the next generation of leaders,” Mehta explains. “This is vital not only for the organization, but also for second-level leaders to grow as individuals and be ready to take over tomorrow. Today’s leaders can help these emerging leaders grow and develop by sharing with them their experiences and thought processes, especially during a crisis. Leaders also need to empower this next generation by giving them opportunities to make organizational decisions. A good example is to allow second-level leaders to make real decisions when the leader is on PTO. This gives everyone—the leader, second-level leader, the team, and even the organization’s most senior leaders—confidence in those second-level leaders’ ability to do the job and trust in them during a crisis.”

    Security teams are often small and overcommitted, though, so when a crisis puts additional pressure on personnel, security leaders will need to be blunt about bandwidth, Fischer says. If one security manager out of a team of three is dedicated to a crisis response, that significantly reduces the team’s ability to handle other tasks.

    “You have to be able to call on different resources—even if they’re not in your department, if they’re external to the company, or if you can pull in other functions to say ‘Hey, I need somebody to help me with this,’” he says. “If you have people with different strengths, you can have people take on different tasks for you.”

    Keep Calm 

    It’s almost a cliché that after a crisis hits, security managers’ and business leaders’ email inboxes are inundated with sales pitches for new products and services that allege that they would have helped the organization avoid the whole ordeal. A good crisis leader will be able to bring existing resources together, get people talking, and keep people calm enough to logically evaluate the organization’s genuine needs and budget.

    Calmness is tied to budget, Fischer says. “We have to spend something to do this, but we don’t have to spend everything to do this.” Looking at past incidents, current risks, and business priorities will help crisis responders take a breath, step back, and make practical decisions, he adds.

    Exercises and simulations are essential but are artificial by definition; there is no substitute for the real thing,” says Mehta. “Networking, learning about other parts of the organization, and being open to multidisciplinary solutions are also important for responding to a crisis.”

    He recommends volunteering to participate in both exercises and real crises. “We all learn from experiencing both successes and mistakes,” he says. “As leaders, prepare by staying knowledgeable on the security situation in the countries your organization operates within so you can anticipate when a crisis may be brewing. Also, volunteer to review and update your organization’s crisis management plans so you are aware of standard operating procedure.  No crisis will follow the ‘plan,’ but it will get you thinking about what is needed and what you would do in a crisis.”

    In addition, Zarzycki adds, “Don’t get tied up on the type of crisis. Whether it is an act of nature, a pandemic, or cyberattack, the important thing is to have a team in place that knows their role in a crisis and is prepared to make quick but good decisions with the information that is available. Make sure to document the information that you have and the decisions that are made. This is critical not only for continuous improvement but also for covering your bases.”

    See Original Post

  • January 31, 2023 6:35 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Fast Company

    The workforce has been forced to consistently and quickly adapt to socio-economic shifts as a result of the pandemic. While the world as we know it changed in 2020, we are currently living in a “re-adjustment” phase that has brought about its own set of changes and challenges.

    Employers and employees alike are juggling what their new normal looks like, and how to integrate pandemic-learned behaviors and activities into a post-pandemic world. An uptake in digital tools allowing for remote work, the creation of virtual company cultures, and an internal focus on employee engagement and satisfaction are all examples of these pandemic-based pursuits that workplaces are looking to blend into their day-to-day.

    As a new year begins, a potentially looming recession adds another element of uncertainty that must be accounted for in the workplace sector. It is vital to look ahead to what shifts can be expected in order to provide workers the opportunity to prepare for these changes.

    With this in mind, here are the five trends that I expect to gain prominence into the New Year.


    Upskilling and soft skills were themes that gained steam across industry conversations in 2022. As we move into the New Year with economic uncertainty on the horizon, upskilling opportunities for the workforce will become a prominent retention strategy, demonstrating an organization’s desire to drive employee growth and development. Organizations today have picked up on employee’s desire for continuous learning, and so we will see unique learning and development programs set in place as they create an environment where upskilling is encouraged and also allow companies to reap the rewards of developing highly skilled teams.

    The current tight market has created a challenge for employers to attract the best talent, making it crucial for both employees and employers to be aware of, or close, any skill gaps. Offering the opportunity to job seekers and employees to develop or learn new skills is a solution for employers hoping to remain competitive in the market and increase the efficiency of their current team.

    Additionally, soft skills in particular are invaluable to an organization and possessing these skills often sets top leaders apart. Interpersonal communication, decision-making, time management and collaboration are all soft skills for employees and job seekers alike to focus on in the new year, to increase their value in the workforce.


    Flexibility within the workplace has never been as valued as it is right now. Most employees do not want to feel tethered to their desks for eight hours per day after experiencing the openness of remote work. Lessened commutes and the ability to shift working time to non-traditional work hours allowed employees to improve their work/life balance.

    With the world returning back to “normal” after two years at home, employees are not ready to completely give up the elements that have dramatically improved their quality of life in favor of returning to the office five days a week.

    Many teams have chosen a hybrid approach. In the year ahead, we will continue to see hybrid work environments being adopted by organizations, allowing employees to have the freedom and independence of remote work that they enjoy while also providing teams with the opportunity for in-person facetime and collaboration in the office. Non-flexible work environments can be a dealbreaker for workers, so workplaces will continue to take employees’ wants into consideration through hybrid work models.

    With the wide-spread adoption of hybrid work, employers are enacting efforts to measure employee productivity when not in the office. From tracking hours to monitoring softwares, we have started to see that employers are trying to gain insight into how teams spend their time. However, these measures may negatively impact trust levels within the workplace. It is very important for employers to work collaboratively and be transparent with their teams and to maintain a sense of trust.


    In 2023, we expect to see an increasing importance of benefits in worker compensation packages. A recently conducted study, found that close to 60% of U.S. job seekers find benefits to be an important element when looking for a job, second only to salary. 

    With the continued talent crunch in the labor market, many organizations will turn to implementing more comprehensive and attractive benefit packages to attract and retain top talent. Non-traditional benefits such as access to fertility treatments, financial wellness programs, and pet insurance won’t be uncommon benefits in the year ahead. In fact, they are already highly sought after by Americans.

    Moreover, as an increasing number of states move in the direction of pay transparency, jobseekers will also turn to benefits as a negotiation tactic. Increased vacation days, parental leave, and 401(k) matching are a few of the many avenues job seekers will leverage to increase the value of compensation packages.


    Pay transparency is the future of work, and we’ve already seen this shift begin to happen in 2022. New York City and Colorado already have pay transparency laws in place, requiring employers to state salary ranges in job descriptions. California is next to legalize pay transparency, with a similar policy coming into effect on January 1.

    Pay transparency is one way to correct wage gaps and erase pay discrimination, which would be a huge victory. A recent study conducted by highlights New York City resident’s thoughts on pay transparency. We found that nearly 35% of jobseekers experienced pay discrimination and over 50% of those who did were women. Pay discrimination is an issue that has plagued the employment sector for far too long, and enacting salary transparency can help address the situation.

    There are also benefits to engaging in salary transparency efforts for employers, including increasing the quality of applications. When job seekers are able to ensure both the qualifications and compensation of a role fit what they are looking for, the best workers will self-sort accordingly. Providing a good-faith salary range—not too wide of a range—can also act as a powerful brand statement and build positive sentiment among applicants.


    Economists suggest that a recession is likely looming and with widespread news coverage of layoffs at large tech organizations across the country, many employees are concerned for the fate of their own employment.

    The pandemic produced many important conversations surrounding mental health and wellness inside and outside of the workplace. As a result, many organizations now provide employees with wellness perks such as meditation software, summer fridays to destress, or access to psychological services. Although we have moved past the pandemic, now is not the time to move backward on the tremendous progress made that allowed employees to be open about their mental health struggles.

    Times of economic uncertainty bring about a whole new set of fears that have the power to negatively affect mental health. The onus is on employers to recognize these potential barriers and provide employees with ongoing access to resources that can improve their mental wellbeing, and in turn work performance.

    In conclusion, the state of the modern workplace is continuing to adapt before us and it’s necessary to keep up with its changes. Keeping these six trends in mind over the next year will set employers and employees up for success, providing organizations and individuals with the opportunity to thrive in a post-pandemic workforce.

    See Original Post

  • January 31, 2023 6:33 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from BlooLoop

    Dubai’s Museum of the Future has introduced a robotic canine, or ‘robodog’, that can be seen roaming the lobby, welcoming and interacting with visitors.

    The four-legged robotic dog joins the museum’s growing robot community, including an AI-powered humanoid bot named Ameca. The institution is also home to Bob the robot barista, and a robotic flying penguin and jellyfish.

    The robodog has 3D vision and moves using 17 joints. Per a release, the advanced robot uses machine learning and navigates the territory with unprecedented mobility for a robot.

    “We are excited to welcome the latest addition to our family of intelligent robots,” said Majed Al Mansoori, deputy executive director at the Museum of the Future.

    “With Ameca, the robodog, and others, the Museum of the Future enables visitors to meet some of the most cutting-edge and advanced robots and AI systems currently on the market.

    “We welcome visitors to come and meet our interactive robots and learn about the technologies that are shaping our future today and tomorrow.”

    Designed by US technology firm Boston Dynamics, the robodog uses 360-degree perception to map the terrain and avoid obstacles. It can also balance on uneven surfaces, navigate stairs and collect 2D and 3D information using sensors.

    Robodog joins museum’s growing robot family

    Ameca, the museum’s first robotic staff member, features a human-like face and a robotic body. It can interact with guests, answer their questions and provide directions. Additionally, it can make facial expressions and track movement.

    In the UK, Blenheim Palace has joined forces with the Oxford Robotics Institute (ORI) and Oxford Biology to test a robot dog monitoring the impact of climate change.

    The Museum of the Future is inviting people to name the robodog on social media. Those interested can suggest names via Twitter and Instagram.

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