Event Provides Chance to Reflect on Diversity Attitudes
In the June 10 issue, Paul Kohn shared that he was looking forward to the Diversity Roundtable because he hoped it would offer a chance to reflect on his attitudes toward diversity. So did the event live up to Kohn’s expectations?
“I was extremely impressed,” said Kohn, vice provost for Enrollment Services. “For example, I was reminded that others may hear your words differently than you mean them.”
One moment that stood out in Kohn’s mind occurred at the event’s luncheon, when a woman shared that colleagues using the word “guys” to refer to men and women was
offensive to her.
“The word ‘guys’ has always been inclusive to me, kind of like ‘y’all,’” Kohn said. “But this woman felt like when people said, ‘Do you guys want to go to lunch,’ it didn’t include her. This was one of those aha moments I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t attend this event.”
With a little help from the Diversity Dramatists, a group started by Diversity Consultant Charlotte Hamlin (who spoke during the morning program), attendees had a chance to discuss their own thoughts about diversity-focused issues.
The group performed skits that focused on topics ranging from not hiring someone because she “wasn’t a culture fit” to learning how to work with co-workers with different sexual orientations. Following each skit, faculty and staff had a chance to discuss each topic with those at their tables.
“The programming really kept things moving throughout the day,” Kohn said. “And the interactive nature of both the morning and lunch programs were just what we needed to stay engaged.”
The one area that Kohn wished there had been more discussion about was the status divides on campus among faculty, staff, and students.
“There can be very real tension among these groups, and I think it’s just as important for us to discuss these issues as it is to discuss topics such as race and sexual orientation,” he added.
During the luncheon, Pearl Alexander, senior director for people strategies for the Office of Human Resources (OHR), provided a progress report on OHR’s diversity efforts.
“You raised questions, and we’re answering them,” she said.
Some of this year’s highlights include offering:
- Brown bag lunches focused on topics such as bullying and incivility.
- Training sessions such as the Fierce Conversations program.
- Reading circles, such as the recent event for female faculty and staff members to discuss Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
Alexander and Cheryl Cofield, director for culture, diversity, and inclusion in OHR, also announced the creation of the following employee resource groups (ERGs): African Heritage; Hispanic/Latino; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Ally; Introvert; Veterans; and Women. Stay tuned to future issues for more information about the ERGs.