Implementing D&I in the Workplace: Getting to the Root of It

While it may be a hot topic now considering the current political climate, diversity & inclusivity in the workplace has always been incredibly important. However, it’s fairly difficult to implement, mostly because Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) have been afforded less opportunity than their White counterparts, and this lack of equitable opportunity contributes to differences in what is considered “desirable” professional experience and backgrounds.

Recently, Cheri Eisen, SVP of Business Development at Protis Global, discussed workplace diversity at length, suggesting that to increase diversity and to establish an actualized inclusive atmosphere in the workplace, organizations must attack the root of it by partnering with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Her insightful comment suggested that companies implement a mentoring program, having an ambassador on-site providing guidance in various ways such as resume-building courses and interview training. Having a presence at these HBCUs will certainly help to foster growth and provide more opportunities. A wonderful suggestion and on the right track.

Historically, data has supported that low socio-economic status (SES) college students are primarily composed of minorities such as Blacks and Hispanics, further corroborated by a study in 2006 by Marvin Titus. In Titus’ study, his statistics indicated that “compared to high SES students, low SES students are more likely to be a member of an underrepresented minority group, either African American or Hispanic,” from a population of students enrolled in college. Therefore, widening the net to also include community colleges or colleges in low SES areas will likely be more beneficial in adding diversity to a workplace. HBCUs continue striving to serve Blacks and minorities with affordable tuition, however, there are some HBCUs that have non-Black majority campuses. So, while HBCUs remain wonderful beacons for higher education for BIPOCs, and a great starting point for organizations looking to promote diversity as suggested by Cheri, it’s best to head even further down the roots and reach out to colleges in low SES areas or community colleges.

As suggested by Cheri Eisen, for any given organization to embrace and promote diversity & inclusivity in the workplace, she feels it’s best to reach out and partner with historically Black colleges and universities to offer mentorships to those students. However, limiting the program to HBCUs also limits the scope of the goal. Considering data consistently showing that low socio-economic status students in college are primarily composed of minorities, perhaps it’d be much more effective to expand the partnerships to HBCUs as well as colleges in historically low SES areas as well. Providing this farther reach allows any organizations to attack the roots of the problem and beyond, guiding minority students towards greater diversity in the workplace.

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