Tag: DEI

A gray background on which is layered two boxes taken from Zoom: in the upper left is one including author and scholar Ibram X Kendi in a white shirt and gray jacket in front of a bank of bookshelves. At bottom right is Olin professor John Horn in a gray jacket against a blue background.

Organizations lamenting their inability to identify, recruit and retain a diverse set of employees may need look no further than their own data to find strategies to address it, according to author and antiracism scholar Ibram X. Kendi.

“Organizations need to start reflecting on the fact that they if they are not diverse, they need to look in the mirror,” Kendi said during a Diversity Perspectives discussion for WashU Olin on December 7. “Companies that are effective are making data-driven decisions. They should collect a great deal of data about at what point in the process might be the problem.”

Kendi is a New York Times bestselling author, Boston University professor and the director of BU’s Center for Antiracist Research. He joined WashU Olin’s John Horn, professor of practice in economics, for an hourlong conversation about how businesses and organizations might strive to adopt antiracist practices.

Dig into data

Kendi urged business leaders to dig into their data: Who is applying? Who is getting interviews? Who is getting offers, getting hired, getting promoted? How long are they staying with the organization? Why are they leaving? “You may find you’re getting a diverse pool of people to apply, but they’re not proceeding to the second interview, or they’re being hired, but not retained,” Kendi said.

He said he’s seen a lack of attention to data create misguided attempts at corporate philanthropy in the name of antiracism. For example, in the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, some businesses stated an interest in using philanthropy to close the racial wealthy gap, sending donations to support financial literacy programs in Black communities.

“That presupposes that the cause of the racial gap was caused by financial illiteracy,” Kendi said. But that’s not what the data shows. “That philanthropic decision that some businesses chose wouldn’t move the needle in terms of the racial wealth gap.”

Throughout the conversation, Kendi returned to the theme of data, but also noted that data is only a starting point. Data tells a story about what’s happening—but not why. “The data is not an answer. The data is only a window,” he said. “We have to look at what’s truly happening in these places and spaces.”

That means disaggregating the data by gender, class, ethnicity and other dimensions of identity to get a fuller picture of how individuals and groups are being affected in the workplace and beyond. Leaders have to dig into the qualitative data as well, examining how culture influences the workplace.

“Are we accepting the reality that each culture has a different sense of what professionalism is, or to be even more specific, what is professional attire may be is different among different cultures,” he said. “Are we ensuring that the ways in which people wear their hair from a cultural standpoint—that all of that is allowed and included?”

Ultimately, he noted, “companies with diverse staffs are more likely to be productive and efficient. It’s in their self interest.”

We’re commemorating two cultural observances and promoting total health and well-being in May, the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) team announced.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 

Also known as AAPI Heritage Month, this annual celebration pays tribute to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders whose diverse journeys, life experiences, traditions and cultures have enriched America’s history and are pivotal to its future. The AAPI community includes citizens and immigrants from all of Asia and islands within the regions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Comprising nearly 7% of the population, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest-growing group in the United States. 

Jewish American Heritage Month 

May is also Jewish American Heritage Month, during which we commemorate the achievements and contributions of the American Jewish community to the United States. In May 2004, the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, the American Jewish Historical Society, the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration organized the 350th Anniversary of American Jewish History, which led to May being selected as Jewish American Heritage Month In 2006.  

As we take part in the celebratory nature of AAPI and Jewish American Heritage Months, we equally recognize the ongoing acts of bias, discrimination and injustice faced by these and other communities domestically and internationally. We invite you to continue to learn more about how you can engage in the work of positive change and champion inclusion. Our microlearning journeys from Blue Ocean Brain housed in the learn.WashU platform are one place to start. 

Mental Health Awareness Month 

Mental Health Month was established in 1949 by Mental Health America to increase awareness of mental health and wellness and reduce the stigma of mental health care. This year, Mental Health America has themed its Mental Health Awareness Month toolkit “Back to Basics,” and it focuses on primary information related to mental health, mental health conditions and mental health care.  

Our new micro-learning journeys for May, available on the learn.WashU platform, include:

Accepting Yourself and Others: Mental Health at Work

Mental Wellness and Well-Being at Work 
Here are other ways to get involved and learn more, and don’t forget to check out the WashU Diversity Calendar for additional related events: 

She Suite, International Women

Last month the IDEA team launched a new initiative to celebrate our diverse community through monthly cultural observances. We continue this initiative in March through recognition of Women’s History Month and National Deaf History Month.  

Women’s History Month 

Celebrated since 1987, March is Women’s History Month, which commemorates the contributions of all women to US history. The National Women’s History Alliance designates a yearly theme for Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Women Providing Healing and Promoting Hope,” which seeks to honor the tireless efforts of frontline workers during the pandemic. Many Women’s History Month statements and celebrations are also honoring Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in recognition of her historic nomination to the US Supreme Court.   

International Women’s Day 

Since 1911, March 8 has been designated as International Women’s Day in celebration of women’s global impact on economic, political, cultural and social life. Many countries worldwide celebrate the holiday with demonstrations, educational initiatives and local customs. 

You can participate in these cultural observances by taking part in the following campus and community events:  

For other related events, check out the WashU Diversity Calendar

National Deaf History Month

The National Association of the Deaf introduced National Deaf History Month in 1997 commemorated annually from March 13–April 15 in recognition of the deaf and hard of hearing community. National Deaf History Month was celebrated during this time because it aligned with three historic events. First, on April 15, 1817, the American School for the Deaf was opened. Second, on April 8, 1864, Gallaudet University, the first university for the deaf, was founded. Third, on March 13, 1988, I. King Jordan became the first deaf president of Gallaudet University. 

Recently, the Board of the National Association of the Deaf chose to shift National Deaf History Month to April 1–30 to offer a more inclusive celebration that broadly recognizes deaf history and all members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.   

Olin staff, faculty, students and alumni can learn more through our micro-learning journeys from Blue Ocean Brain housed in the learn.WashU platform (accessible with your WUSTL key). Each micro-learning journey takes 10 minutes or less, and the new journeys available this month include:

  • Celebrating Women’s History Month 
  • Women @ Work 
  • The Language of Disability 
  • Awareness in Action: The Ability Factor 

We hope you get involved through attending events, learning something new and continuing the conversation.

PICTURED AT TOP: A scene from WashU Olin’s celebration of International Women’s Day in 2018 with our She Suite event. The 2022 edition of the She Suite event is March 8, at noon.

Nikkia Reveillac, director of consumer insights for Netflix

Growing up, Nikkia Reveillac moved in a lot of culturally diverse environments. As a native of Trinidad and Tobago, she recalled one of her biggest adjustments in the United States was to the casual “Hi, how are you?” greeting strangers and friends alike would toss her way.

She quickly learned they weren’t really inviting a conversation about her well-being.

Reveillac’s candid introduction to her cultural upbringing and early experience moving in multicultural groups served as the introduction to WashU Olin’s new presentation series, Diversity Perspectives, on February 11. The director of consumer insights for Netflix gave a lively 40-minute overview of her philosophy before opening the event to questions. Her biggest message focused on the power of curiosity.

“The one thing I want to leave with you is we have the power to hold ourselves to a higher bar. That bar is curiosity,” she told viewers. When we introduce ourselves to each other, when we become responsible for the careers of others, when we consider how we allocate opportunities—how is curiosity playing a role in helping us learn about other people? “It’s almost like our brains are inherently lazy. The quality of my life has been enriched to no end by my ability to raise the bar of curiosity.”

Reveillac urged viewers to consider five qualities to develop “alongside being technically amazing and prepared for work.” With so much of a leader’s job focused on managing the three P’s—people, personalities and politics—”these are really important to work on alongside all your other tasks.”

  • Self awareness. Who is in front of me? Bring awareness of myself into the conversation.
  • Empathy. “It’s this ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. This is easier said than done.” Consider adopting an ego-less and self-less approach to life.
  • Humility. A recognition that you may be exceptional in one area but you can always get better and others around you may have the same skills. Example: Netflix’s culture memo says, “Netflix does not tolerate brilliant jerks.”
  • A growth mindset. Every quality builds on the previous one. Once you have awareness about where you need to improve and where you’re not great, it’s helpful to be open to working on it. For your benefit and the benefit of the team. You’re open to other points of view, different mindsets.
  • Relationship building. Establish a sense of trust and credibility.

“I want you to start thinking on Monday how you can make some shifts.”

Nikkia Reveillac

The team guiding WashU Olin’s strategic plan for inclusion, diversity, equity and access is launching a new initiative to celebrate the school’s diverse community through monthly cultural observances. As a school, Olin is committed to these diversity principles, and this starts by learning about our own culture and worldview as well as cultures and worldviews that may differ from our own.

Broadening our perspective will enable us to see how we are all connected. This connection unites us and helps us grow “Together. Forward.”

Lunar New Year 

Also known as the Spring Festival, Lunar New Year is the observance of the start of a new year in a lunar or lunisolar calendar. It is the most significant holiday for many East and Southeast Asian cultures. The celebration of the start of year of the Tiger began on February 1 and typically runs for 15 days. The school, university and community at large are celebrating this cultural observance with several community events: 

Black History Month 

Also known as African American History Month, this observance is recognized every year from February 1 to March 1. Black History Month is an annual celebration of African American heritage and the pivotal impact made by African Americans in US history. Black History Month has a different theme each year chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. This year’s theme is “Black Health and Wellness.”  

In honor of Black History Month, Olin’s IDEA team will host its inaugural event in the Diversity Perspectives speaker series on February 11 at 11:30 a.m.  Our featured speaker for this virtual event is Nikkia Reveillac (pictured at top), business insights and strategy leader, organization designer and builder, and director, consumer insights at Netflix. 

Olin students and alumni can also get involved by learning more through our micro-learning journeys from Blue Ocean Brain. These micro-learning sessions are available in the learn.WashU platform. Each micro-learning journey takes 10 minutes or less, and the current journeys available are:  

  • Appreciating Diversity: Celebrating Black History Month 
  • Boosting Your Diversity Intelligence 
  • Achieving Racial Equity 
  • How Embracing DEI Spurs Innovation 
  • How Leaders Can Talk about Race at Work 

Other ways to get involved 

Discover your way to commemorate these cultural observances. We encourage you to learn or explore something new.

Pictured at top: Nikkia Reveillac, featured speaker for Olin’s February 11 Diversity Perspectives event.