By the year 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the labor force will consist of 47.2 percent women and nearly one-fifth Hispanics, which is the fastest growing racial category in the United States. This demographic shift is one reason why employers are starting to take workplace diversity, inclusion, and equity more seriously. In addition, the next generation of workers will want to work at companies that are socially responsible, diverse, and inclusive. Thus, as university career educators, it is incumbent upon us to implement practices and services that benefit all students and help them leverage their unique positionalities to be competitive in a global market. Infusing diversity, inclusion, and equity-minded practices into your career center is imperative in today’s every-changing world. Below are three strategies to begin the process:
Monique S. Cooper, M.Ed., CPRW, is a career consultant and chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at the University of Connecticut. She will present "Infusing Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Into Your Career Center," at the 2019 NACE Conference & Expo on Wednesday, June 5, 12:10-12:30 p.m., Lobby Level, Asia 3.
- Educate yourself. No matter your personal level of critical consciousness, there is always something new to learn, specifically about people who are different from you. Spend time reading journal articles, blogs, and books about the experiences of people from diverse backgrounds. Read critical scholars, such as black feminists, LGBTIA+ authors, Chicano/a researchers, etc. to learn about theories, best practices, and perspectives that can inform your work. Stephen Brookfield (2014) defines a critical scholaras a person who challenges aspects of existing structures that others accept without question. Commit to reading at least one journal article a week from a critical scholar. Currently, I am reading “Black Women and Social Justice Education: Legacies & Lessons."
- Find your people. If you do not already for a Career Services Diversity and Inclusion Committee, then start one. Find people who are committed to learning, growing, and leading the efforts within your center. It is important that committee members come from diverse backgrounds, positionalities, and areas of the university. In addition, you want to garner support from your leadership team. Leaders are very important in regards to organizational change and culture so get their buy-in and support.
- Assess current offerings. What are you doing already that offers specific programs and services to student of color, LGBTQIA+ students, religiously affiliated, students with disabilities, etc.? Is it working? Ask your students what their needs are and what they think about your current offerings. Track what you are doing well and what areas you might want to expand on. However, do not try to tackle everything all at once. Pick one (or a few) areas to start. For example, one of our first major initiatives was to revamp our website to include resources for diverse populations. Another goal was to review all our résumé samples for inclusive language and remove stereotypes and potential bias. Completing these projects gave our team a sense of accomplishment and motivation to tackle our other goals.