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Human Times
North America
Few U.S. employees have a work `best friend'

A recent Gallup poll found that just two in 10 adult U.S. employees say they have someone at work they consider to be a ‘best friend.’ The percentage under age 35 fell by three points when compared to pre-pandemic 2019, to 21% from 24%, said Gallup workplace and well-being researcher Jim Harter. There was no change for workers 35 and older, he said. “We’re seeing in the data that younger people in general are feeling more disconnected from their workplaces,” Harter observed. “You can attribute some of that potentially to remote work. If they’re less connected to their workplace, they have fewer opportunities to connect with other colleagues and to develop those kinds of friendships that they might have had in the past.”  Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, says more companies are actively encouraging friendships. His organization is one of a growing number of employers that buy lunches for people who invite somebody they're not close with to a meal as a way to encourage new ties. “From a diversity, equity and inclusion standpoint, we're trying to get people together who have different sets of experiences, lived experiences, backgrounds, etc.,” Taylor said. “The idea is, you go to lunch with a stranger and make them a friend.”

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Human Times
UK
McDonald's pledges to better protect workers in the UK

McDonald's has signed a legally binding agreement with the UK's Equalities and Human Rights Commission which requires the company to deal with what is thought to be more than 1,000 complaints from staff about workplace behaviour. The UK’s Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)  has previously raised the alarm over a “toxic culture” in McDonald’s restaurants. Ian Hodson, national president of the BFAWU, said: “It’s shameful that one of the richest corporations on the planet doesn’t take sexual harassment seriously until we raise it . . . I pay tribute to all our members who have spoken out on this issue and encourage McDonald’s to work with us in ending sexual harassment.” The agreement commits the group to a number of measures to better protect workers in the UK, including communicating a “zero tolerance” approach to sexual harassment, providing anti-harassment training for employees, and improving policies to better respond to complaints. Alistair Macrow, chief executive of McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland, said the company already has a “strong track record” in this area but wants to further improve it. He added: “As one of the UK’s leading employers, the safety and wellbeing of our people is our absolute priority. It is hugely important to me that everyone in our organisation feels safe, respected and included at all times – this is core to the values of our business.”

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Human Times
Europe
McDonald's pledges to better protect workers in the UK

McDonald's has signed a legally binding agreement with the UK's Equalities and Human Rights Commission which requires the company to deal with what is thought to be more than 1,000 complaints from staff about workplace behaviour. The UK’s Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)  has previously raised the alarm over a “toxic culture” in McDonald’s restaurants. Ian Hodson, national president of the BFAWU, said: “It’s shameful that one of the richest corporations on the planet doesn’t take sexual harassment seriously until we raise it . . . I pay tribute to all our members who have spoken out on this issue and encourage McDonald’s to work with us in ending sexual harassment.” The agreement commits the group to a number of measures to better protect workers in the UK, including communicating a “zero tolerance” approach to sexual harassment, providing anti-harassment training for employees, and improving policies to better respond to complaints.

Full Issue
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Human Times
Middle East
Dubai's crypto regulator plans to boost headcount

The Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), Dubai's crypto regulator, plans to quadruple its headcount over the coming months to process hundreds of license applications as new rules attract industry players to the Middle Eastern financial hub. VARA chief executive officer Henson Orser said the regulator expects to handle around 300 new applications this year and will begin issuing final permits in June for companies that have already obtained authorization under Dubai's minimum viable product licensing regime. “It's been a mad sprint,” Orser said, adding that it's a case of “be careful what you wish for. We've created a lot of work for ourselves in terms of supervision and enforcement.”

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Human Times
Social
Deepfake 'news anchors' are appearing in pro-China footage on social media platforms

Deepfake 'news anchors' are appearing in pro-China footage on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, a research group says. Graphika said it discovered the deepfakes on social media while tracking pro-China disinformation operations known as 'spamouflage.' Jack Stubbs, vice president of intelligence at Graphika, said: "This is the first time we've seen a state-aligned operation use AI-generated video footage of a fictitious person to create deceptive political content." In one video analysed by Graphika, a fictitious male anchor who calls himself Alex criticizes U.S. inaction over gun violence. Graphika's report said the two news anchors were almost certainly created using technology provided by the London-based AI start-up Synthesia. Synthesia’s website advertises software for creating deepfake avatars "based on video footage of real actors."

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