Diversity and Inclusion Wisdom from a College Student

Enjoying Georgia Tech homecoming 2017 with mascot Buzz

Often in my “off-work” life I am on the look out for good material for my blog, especially since I try to publish an entry three or four times a month. And I lucked out while attending by 40th college class reunion at Georgia Tech in late October this year.

The Georgia Tech Alumni Association offered a robust series of events on Homecoming Friday at their new Georgia Tech Global Learning Center. One session I attended was the student panel talking about student life at Georgia Tech. I knew it would be fun to see how campus life differed from my time (1973 – 1977) 0n campus.

The panel included 2 male and 3 female students from various majors involved with a wide range of activities on campus. The panel moderator opened the discussion with a few planned questions before opening the floor to alumni, most of who were attending their 40th and 50th class reunions. Discussions included topics such as favorite traditions, hardest classes and easiest classes. Certainly there have been many changes over the past 40 or 50 years.

One of the more notable changes is the gender make up of the entering class. When I arrived at Georgia Tech, approximately 10% of the student body was women. Now the latest entering class was over 40% women. It is great to see the drastic increase in women pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and careers.

Then one gentleman in the audience asked a particularly fascination question of the students, “Who do you feel are smarter at Tech – the men or the women?”

After a short somewhat awkward pause, one of the women on the panel gave a profound answer. She said:

“I have been on project work teams in my classes where I was the only woman. I have also been on project teams that have been entirely women. And I have found the most successful project teams have been those with a good mix of men and women. We often have different ways of looking at issues and problems, and it seems that teams that have more diverse ways of thinking end of with the best results.”

As a diversity and inclusion consultant and trainer, I was so heartened that this young woman could articulate the value of diversity of thought that many organizations still need to learn. Often diversity breeds an increase in creative thinking leading to the best solution to business challenges, the best product offerings and the best customer support. This makes me enthusiastic about the future of American business and the future business leaders coming out of universities such as Georgia Tech.

Veteran’s Day 2017 Blog – Comprehensive Coordinated Support for Our Veterans

Photo sources: The C-Square and myreporter.com

Please do share this blog with a veteran or their family member who can use many of the useful links to help find needed services!

Within the diversity and inclusion sphere, Veterans are very often included as a key diversity constituency. Many companies do have Veterans groups within their portfolio of Employee Resource Groups and hiring initiatives to support veterans. And veterans are also one of those diversity groups that truly intersects all the others: gender, race, LGBT and certainly people with disabilities given the physical and mental challenges many veterans face when returning home.

There years ago I was pleased to publish the blog, “The Value of Hiring our Veterans.” And I was proud to share that I was now a member of the North Carolina Governor’s Working Group on Veterans, Service Members and Their Families. And I was pleased to present “Introduction to LGBT Considerations in Mental Health Challenges,” at the May, 2015 working group meeting. It is important to note that our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members serving our country truly deserve the same respect and support as all veterans.

At our most recent working group meeting in October, Ilario Pantano, formerly the State of North Carolina’s Director of Veteran Affairs and now Senior Director for Community Services with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) presented a stirring overview of the excellent progress over the past three years and the importance of our work.

What is special about what the working group, NCServes, AmericaServes and the Institute for Veteran and Military Families? Over the past three years, these teams have worked together to foster networking across the many different private and governmental agencies that support veterans in many different ways.

The NC Vets Resource Guide is published annual with scores of various resources with contacts for assistance.

There is certainly no lack of resources and efforts to support veterans in areas such as physical and mental rehabilitation, transitioning into civilian employment, housing and food needs, and more. But the top challenge for veterans, according to recent surveys, is knowing exactly where to go for assistance with particular issues. So providing a comprehensive resource like the 130+ page NC Vets Resource Guide is helping speed matching veteran needs to the best resources.

Ilario, in addition to reminding us that each person’s contribution to this effort, even in saving a single life, is so valuable, provided a 5 point outline for how NC Serves and the IVMF.
Build a community effort to coordinate services
Sustain by continually enlisting support from public and private stakeholders
Partnering which expands the impact of each individual effort
Pioneer by evolving into the broadest set of state and local support services
Transform by enhancing the technological support mechanisms to effectively serve more people most effectively.

It is great to see a community come together and work to share across various initiatives instead of remaining siloed. This is a great example of how networking and team work can make all parties involved more effective. I am proud to be a part of this effort.