‘Dialogues’ Spark Discussions about Diversity
Events such as the Diversity Roundtable and Diversity Symposium bring people together from across Georgia Tech and spark discussion about diversity and inclusive excellence on campus — but how can you get meaningful discussions going within your department?
Cheryl Cofield, director of the Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Unit in the Office of Human Resources (OHR), has just the solution — dialogues her team facilitates that are designed to foster authentic discussions at the unit level.
“To ensure we are distinguished by not only academic excellence, but by truth pursued, it is important that the Institute champion civility of discourse as a fundamental cornerstone. We need widespread, high-quality dialogue to generate shared understandings,” Cofield said. “Through dialogue, we can explore new ideas and alternative perspectives that make us more well-rounded and humane. As we transform ourselves, we transform our relationships and improve the condition of our collective culture.”
Since 2011, Cofield and her colleagues have facilitated dialogues for units including the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, Scheller College of Business, Office of Information Technology, Georgia Tech Research Institute and OMED.
Cofield and Pearl Alexander, senior director of People Strategies in OHR, are also scheduled to facilitate dialogues for new school chairs in the College of Engineering, as well as groups from the Library and the Learning Excellence Administrative Council.
The two plan to become certified in Stephen Covey’s “Leadership at the Speed of Trust” model this month so they can also begin facilitating dialogues focused on leveraging credibility and high-trust behavior as critical leadership competencies.
Dialogues can be tailored to suit the needs of individual departments and a few of the topics offered include:
- Leadership Conversations: Developing Managerial Capacity for Inclusive Excellence Through Dialogue: This two-hour dialogue teaches participants effective ways to foster engagement among diverse teams and individuals, and how to create safe spaces for discussing sensitive issues, which often go unaddressed.
- A Singer Named … Susan: This two-hour dialogue uses video footage of Susan Boyle from the television program “Britain’s Got Talent” to generate insight about unconscious bias, the impact of perceptions on feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and our collective responsibilities in relation to the work environment.
- Micro Messages, Inequities and Triggers: During this two- to three-hour dialogue, participants learn how we send hundreds of minimessages, often without saying a word, as well as the power and impact of slights that often take the form of subtle looks, gestures or voice tones and other unintentional acts.
“We’re hoping to create a culture of dialogue one unit at a time, one person at a time.” Cofield said.
For more information about dialogue topics or to invite Cofield to facilitate a dialogue in your department, email her at email@example.com.