Monday, May 11, 2015

Diversity and Inclusion Event Series Prepared Students for a Global Workforce

Our Diversity and Inclusion events for March and April 2015 have come to a close, and I can tell you one thing’s for sure about the Peirce community: We are not shy about celebrating who we are! Peirce’s Diversity and Inclusion events were some of the most popular happenings around campus over the past several weeks. Each one brought a high turnout and engagement among students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

The underpinning of these educational events is to increase awareness and understanding of other cultures and backgrounds to help us all become more aware global citizens. As a college, we want everyone to feel welcome because it fosters a richer and more rewarding learning environment. In workplaces, understanding and appreciating people’s backgrounds is a gateway to forming more positive relationships, which is often the root of career success.

Here’s a recap of our recent series of Diversity and Inclusion events:

International Dance Workshop
We hit the dance floor with Philly Dance Fitness founder Deborah Hirsch to try our hands (and feet!) at a mix of Latin, Caribbean, Bhangra, and Middle Eastern dance moves. Ms. Hirsch explained the cultural and historical meaning of each dance, including what certain gestures symbolize. The event was a great workout and fantastic opportunity to connect with one another in a fun, globally focused learning environment.

Gender Awareness Workshop
Prof. Robyn Edelstein and Freddie Flippen of Peirce’s Human Resources department joined me in leading a discussion about gender diversity and awareness. Everyone came with questions and respected one another’s viewpoints. There was a lot of room for education and enlightenment around gender issues, how they impact our lives at work and home, and what should change about the traditional roles that women and men play.

Men of Color Workshop
Led by Prof. Tobo Houessou-Adin, Kareem Calliste of the Walker Center, and Edward Hill of Career Development Services, our Men of Color Workshop dove into a discussion about racial identity and awareness. We talked about how men of color are portrayed in the media, discrimination they can face in the job application process, and challenges they confront at work. We also shared ideas on how to prevent stereotypes from holding men of color back in the workplace.

LGBTQ Workshop
With the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments on April 28, 2015 in the historic same-sex marriage case, we, too, explored the issue during our LGBTQ Workshop. Led by Peirce College librarian John Powell, Peirce alumni Barry James ’07, and myself, our discussion covered a gamut of issues facing the LGBTQ community, including legal rights, financial issues, workplace challenges, and child custody.

Cultural Celebration: Food and Fun!
It wasn’t long before foods from around the world were devoured at our multicultural potluck.
Everything was delicious! But our event was about more than eating—it was about connecting with people on a cultural level. On hand was guest speaker Jennifer Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs of the City of Philadelphia, who presented on the ethnic makeup of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. She provided an incredible overview of the cultural shifts among Philadelphia neighborhoods over the last several decades and how those changes have made Philadelphia a more vibrant and interesting multicultural city. Attendees came away with full stomachs and a greater appreciation for why Philly’s diversity is a big source of the city’s economic strength.

There are many more events on the horizon. Keep your eye on Peirce’s Diversity and Inclusion website for updates on new events happening around campus and the Philadelphia area. You can also find videos and other information about fostering diversity and inclusion on the website.

More to come!