Career Center combats underrepresentation at work
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Being part of a cultural, racial, international or access-based minority group may lead to underrepresentation in the workplace, a topic tackled in the Career Center’s three-part Diversity@Work series this Tuesday, March 5.
The three parts of the workshop are titled Faith@Work, Alone@Work and LGBTQ+@Work. “Last year, we did the Diversity Symposium ... [as] a day-long conference. This year, the committee thought it would be good to do workshops,” said Lorraine Massiah, assistant director for diversity and inclusion initiatives in the Career Center.
She said these workshops had “individual titles for students to attend instead of making it really broad.” The workshops were based on the results of a survey given at the Diversity Symposium last year to find what students wanted to see in the series.
Foyinsi Adegbonmire, a graduate student studying creative writing and literature, said events like the Diversity@Work series are important to everyone.
“It is helpful to all students because those who are from marginalized groups can feel better prepared for possible situations that might occur at work and know how to deal with them, while those who don’t identify as part of a marginalized group can be made aware of issues that their peers might face and possibly even learn how to be an ally in those moments.”
In the Alone@Work workshop, Jamel C. Hudson, adjunct instructor of writing studies and rhetoric, and Julie Yindra, director of Student Access Services conducted a question-and-answer session before a small crowd of students.
Both speakers addressed the topic of underrepresentation in terms of race and individuals with access needs.
“I’m aware of the unique position that I am in,” Hudson said, adding that for many students, this was potentially their only interaction with a black, male faculty member. “There are definitely not as many tenure track African-American males in positions of higher education.”
Based on their own experiences in the workforce, Hudson and Yindra find that the key solutions to facing the isolation and loneliness that comes with being a minority are empathy and mentorship.
“You may feel alone at work. If you can’t find a way to gather allies in the workplace, then go to the allies in your community and have those conversations. Mentorship is crucial,” Yindra said.
Hudson added that members of the community that do not share your minority identity can still work to be allies with you.
One important way they can be allies is through empathetic communication.
“Being aware of how you speak to people and [of] your lens and worldview, even if you have biases,” Hudson said.
Working alongside Geico Inc., Development and Alumni Affairs and the Cultural Center, the Career Center opened up the conversation for students on a matter that many struggle to confront openly.
“They are scared to talk about it and they do not want to face the reality that it is true. When you take yourself into account that you are a part of it, it sometimes makes people feel shameful or embarrassed,” said Gaetana D’Auria, a sophomore psychology major. “People don’t like to talk about these things.”