Tag: diversity

In February, Olin’s IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) team launched a new initiative to celebrate our diverse community through monthly cultural observances. During April, we recognize and commemorate several cultural observances, including those centered on religious diversity and neurodiversity. April is also Celebrate Diversity Month.  

Ramadan (April 2–May 1) 

Ramadan, known as the holy month of fasting, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is during this month that the Quran was revealed to Muhammad. Observed through fasting, community prayer and self-reflection, Ramadan begins with the appearance of the crescent moon on April 2 and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon on May 1. Ramadan concludes with the Eid al-Fitr holiday, “the festival of breaking fast.” 

Passover (April 15–23) 

Passover is a Jewish holiday celebrated this year from April 15 to 23. In Hebrew, it is known as Pesach, which means to “pass over.” It commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt. It is observed by avoiding leavened food and highlighted by the Seder meals that include family and friends, the seder plate, four cups of wine, matza and retelling the story of the exodus. 

Easter (April 17) 

Easter is a Christian holiday that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which occurred three days after he was crucified by the Romans. This year, Easter will be celebrated on Sunday, April 17. Before Easter, some Christian denominations observe a 40-day period called Lent that begins with Ash Wednesday and concludes with Good Friday. Lent is observed through acts of fasting, prayer and sacrifice.   

Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month 

April is Autism Awareness Month. First held by the Autism Society as National Autistic Children’s Week, this month intends to promote acceptance, inclusion and empowerment of members of the autism community.  

Initiated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated annually on April 2 and spotlights the need for increased education and awareness of autism globally. 

Celebrate Diversity Month 

Celebrate Diversity Month was launched in April 2004 to recognize and honor the many ways that our global society is made richer because of our diverse and unique identities, backgrounds and worldviews. Through celebration of our commonalities and differences, we hope to build and deepen relationships and our understanding of one another.  

Learn more through our micro-learning journeys from Blue Ocean Brain housed in the learn.WashU platform. Each micro-learning journey takes 10 minutes or less, and the new journeys available this month include:

  • Celebrate Diversity: How it Fosters Belonging 
  • Recognizing Cultural Intelligence 

Check out the WashU Diversity Calendar and the WashU Office for Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life for other related events. 

Olin’s Julia Deems, a lecturer in communications, wrote this blog post.

In light of the national conversation on race and diversity, you may wonder how to take the conversation into the workplace. Here are some questions to ask:

Are you showing respect to employees?

It’s no surprise that employees want to be respected. But research by Kristie Rogers (Harvard Business Review, 2018) shows employees want both earned respect and owed respect.

Julia Deems

Earned respect is when an employee completes a task and we tell them, “You did a great job!” Owed respect is treating others in a way that demonstrates we value them as human beings.

According to Rogers, owed respect is “signaled by civility and an atmosphere suggesting that every member of the group is inherently valuable.” Without owed respect, managers may micromanage (showing a lack of trust) or treat employees as interchangeable (“TJ’s not here? Well, someone else on the team can do it.”).

Celebrate employees for their differences and their contributions to the team as well as their success in accomplishing key metrics. Ask yourself: “Am I showing respect to employees both as workers and as individuals?”

Are you having learning conversations with your direct reports?

Find out how you are doing by talking to your team. In “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most,” the authors argue that difficult conversations, such as talking to employees about respect in the workplace, consist of three separate conversations.

One is about facts (what happened), another is about emotions (how each party feels) and a third is about identity (what this says about who we are).

In such conversations, aim to tease out contributions to the problem (from both sides), listen to how others feel and acknowledge your own feelings, and reflect on how your perception of self may make it harder to hear some messages. For instance, if we see ourselves as good managers, and that’s part of our identity, it may be difficult to listen to how employees see us as contributing to problems or how we’ve made others feel. Recognize when your ego wants to respond, but don’t act on it; just listen to others. 

Learning conversations ask that we acknowledge our emotional response, hit pause on trying to persuade others how they should feel, and focus not on blame but instead on doing better in the future. These conversations start from a place of curiosity (How can we do better as a team?), demonstrate that you value and respect how employees see critical issues, and recognize that direct reports can play a key role in helping create a more inclusive environment. Ask your team: “How can we do better?”  I highly recommend “Difficult Conversations.”

Are you building a diverse team?

It may seem that having team members with similar backgrounds makes it easier for the team to come together into a coherent unit. Studies have shown, however, that more diverse teams outperform less diverse teams across financial and other performance measures.

A 2015 study by McKinsey & Company entitled “Delivering through Diversity” demonstrates the point across hundreds of companies. Diversity, they argue, can be thought of in terms of ethnicity, but also gender, LGBTQ+ identity, age/generation and international experience.

To achieve results, go beyond word-of-mouth referrals. Place ads on new sites, actively recruit diverse candidates and identify your criteria in advance. Then ask questions consistently of all candidates.  Make diverse hiring a priority. Ask yourself this: “Does our workforce reflect our community?”

These recommendations require that you be intentional. They will require some investment on your part. But this intentionality and investment will have an enormous payoff. You will create a stronger, more inclusive and diverse workplace built on trust, shared understanding and shared goals.

Written for the Olin Blog on behalf of Bear Studios by Laura Glanz, BA ’21, who is majoring in international and area studies.

Since my start at WashU last semester, the most important lesson I have learned has revolved around the value of the word “reframe.”

While I originally thought college life would be about studying and meeting new people, it has proved to be so much more. I have discovered that college is also about the ability to take advantage of new, impactful opportunities. As students, we hold the power to determine how our four years at WashU will inspire intellectual and emotional grow. Our minds can be so greatly expanded given the access to fascinating people and tangible resources.

Perspective to Tackle New Experiences

However, taking advantage of the multitude of opportunities and trying new things is not easy. After all, students already have many obligations to balance and attend to: homework, a social life, self-care and mental health, etc.

Diving into the unknown, creating new experiences, can be scary. Joining a certain student group, trying to develop friendships, or dedicating time to a career path creates vulnerability. Uncertainty is a bottle of questions. However, we move forward, change, and grow in life through such experiences; pushing boundaries can lead to inner strength.

The value of the word “reframe” comes into play upon facing such uncertainties. Rather than acting habitually, we can choose to pause, breathe, be mindful, and reframe the discomfort. The closer we approach this line of discomfort, the easier it will be to cope with the unknown of the future.

I attempted to enact this philosophy my first semester at WashU by making a concerted effort to prompt conversations with strangers in order to spark friendships. Furthermore, I actively tried to learn about our campus’s student groups, especially those involving upperclassman whom I admired.

In the fall of my first semester, Jacob Finke, BA ’20, international and area studies, my Washington University Student Associate, introduced me to Bear Studios—a student-run strategy and design firm that predominantly services startups. The opportunity to join such a group sounded amazing, yet I questioned my ability to contribute.

Despite my lack of confidence at the time, I decided to reframe my skepticism and apply. I am so grateful now to have joined the team and become a part of their inspiring mission. Among hard skills, Bear Studios has taught me how much one can learn from taking risks. My colleagues there have shown me the beauty of mindful leadership, and they have made me more comfortable with uncertainty. A little reframing can go a long way.

Laura Glanz, BA ’21 is a strategy fellow at Bear Studios LLC. Pictured above: The author with her intramural soccer team composed of first-year students. Laura is in the top row, fourth from right.

Written for the Olin Blog on behalf of Bear Studios by Lexi Jackson, BSBA’20.

Young professionals today are far less likely to be drawn to monetary incentives than past generations. As PwC finds, millennials are driven by feedback, fulfillment, and the potential to create impact. They desire to make a difference in their work and reach high levels of social impact.

As I consider my own career ambitions, I find that they align most closely with this idea. I want to use my career as another platform to affect change and create my livelihood from difference-making.

The hardest question to answer is, where do I begin?

In order to begin a journey toward high impact, an individual has to have a healthy degree of impatience. That is to say, the most impactful individuals do not wait until they are at the most ideal state in their lives to make an impact. They act immediately with the resources they have at the time. Most individuals will never feel fully ready or equipped to believe they have the capacity to make real impact, and, therefore, often do not act.

Don’t Wait to Act

What we forget is that our actions are only as strong as our passions, and our passions cannot be cultivated by resources or opportunity—they exist in us inherently. Those who have the passion to create change are those who know that change can’t wait. And neither can their action.

Perhaps this is why I decided to create Olin Business School’s first Diversity and Inclusion Summit on February 9. I recognized a need within the community for dialogue and action on this topic, and while I didn’t have the personal resources to materialize my passion, I knew that by seeking the proper partners, the event could come to fruition. All it took was my decision to begin action.

Lexi Jackson

My team and I planned the Summit for more than five months. We booked speakers from over seven companies and organizations including Uber, Facebook, US Bank, Build-A-Bear, and more. We sought financial assistance of more than five different student organizations before finding success from our central sponsor, the BSBA office. We overcame challenges, celebrated unexpected opportunities, and crafted an event that attracted more than 80 students, faculty, and community members.

At its inception, the summit appeared to be an impossible undertaking. We did not have the resources, brand, or experience to execute a half-day event. However, if we had waited until we felt completely assured of our ability to succeed, we would likely have never succeeded altogether.

Action Leads to Fulfillment

Young professionals must act with the same diligence if they desire to find fulfillment in every stage of their career. I hear all too often that my peers are accepting jobs that do not fully excite them, simply to serve as an intermediary between now and their dream career. However, that does not have to be the case. High impact jobs can be found at every point on the career track and include jobs that are both meaningful AND lucrative. A high-impact job does not have to mean working at a nonprofit or earning lower wages in the pursuit of a greater good.

This understanding is the exact mission of the organization 80,000 Hours. 80,000 Hours was created by two Oxford researchers and philosophers who found that this generation is driven by high impact through a career, but will too often forfeit these positions of change in fear of financial stability.

Therefore, 80,000 Hours serves as a job search platform where users can find positions that produce high levels of social impact without breaking the bank. The jobs are sorted into a plethora of categories and are designed to teach users about the breadth of social impact. For example, with artificial intelligence positioned at the threshold to the future, there is perhaps no higher impact job that one can hold than to research and understand both its dangers and benefits. In this way, users are able to find surprisingly impactful positions that fulfill their interests and leverage their expertise.

As a member of Bear Studios, a student-run strategy firm and LLC, I actively use the resources and knowledge that I can contribute at the time to add value to our clients’ projects. I may not have all the answers, but that does not mean I should not leverage what I do know to make the biggest impact that I can.

When we begin to measure social impact in a different way, we find ourselves more equipped to act. We find ourselves more fulfilled, more involved, more empowered. We find ourselves making a difference. Most importantly, we find ourselves refusing to wait. And that, is where the change happens.

Pictured above: Charlyn Moss (BSBA’20), Lexi Jackson (BSBA’20), Sema Dibooglu (BSBA’20), Claudia Rivera (BSBA’20)

Guest Blogger: Lexi Jackson, BSBA’20, is majoring in leadership and strategic management, political science; she is a strategy fellow at Bear Studios LLC.

aggressions in the workplace during a student-led diversity and inclusion summit.

Students brainstorming in the D&I Summit's micro aggression session.

Students brainstorming in the D&I Summit’s micro aggression session.

“Do you need sponsorship to work here?”

“Why don’t you use your ‘black voice’ when you speak?”

“We needed to hire some women.”

These were just a few of the dozen off-putting statements—microaggressions—Olin students recalled hearing in their lifetimes. The litany of indignities launched a session on coping with microaggressions, one component in Friday’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit, organized by students from Phi Gamma Nu, Delta Sigma Pi, and Alpha Kappa Psi.

“Inclusion is a duty to act in order to celebrate diversity,” said Lexi Jackson, an Olin sophomore and codirector of the summit.

The afternoon event began with a panel discussion featuring D&I leaders at several top St. Louis-area companies, including Edward Jones, Pfizer, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Express Scripts, and US Bank.

Charlyn Moss, an Olin sophomore and codirector of the event, moderated the panel discussion. She asked panelists about their biggest personal challenge while engaging in diversity and inclusion work.

“I thought some of the battles I fought in college my kids wouldn’t have to be fighting,” said Susan Stith, vice president, diversity, inclusion and corporate giving for Express Scripts. “And now my kids say, ‘What did you do? Why are we still fighting these same battles 30 and 40 years later?’ That’s a hard place to be in.”

Each panelist expressed gratitude for working in a corporate environment that valued and nurtured its commitment to an inclusive workforce. Arvetta Powell, director of diversity and associate experience at Build-A-Bear, spoke of being recruited from Walmart to create a D&I infrastructure at her company.

“To come and be given a blank canvas was a great opportunity. To create the diversity platform from the ground up has been wonderful,” Powell said.

From left: Adita Akbani (Pfizer); Kim Hawkins (US Bank); Susan Stith (Express Scripts); Emily Pitts (Edward Jones); Arvetta Powell (Build-A-Bear); Charlyn Moss (Olin).

Panelists Adita Akbani, Kim Hawkins, Susan Stith, Emily Pitts, Arvetta Powell, and moderator Charlyn Moss.

The summit included a session on women in technology as well as the interactive program devoted to coping with microaggressions, where session leader Keisha Mabry, an adjunct lecturer at WashU, introduced the “SPEAK” technique:

Seek to Understand

“You have to get your mindset in that place. They’re saying this because it’s some truth of theirs. When we change our mindset, it allows information to be processed differently. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be angry. I’m saying you have to be in a mindset to seek to understand. When you’re not, you’ll have an impulse response.”

Process and Practice

“Everyone should have someone they can turn to as a sounding board to help you think strategically and logically.” Figure out a scenario when you can talk to the person and tell them what you heard.

Expose and Educate

“It can be so hard. This is when you actually speak. Oftentimes we feel like it’s not our responsibility to educate.” If you don’t want to educate, you can work with someone who can play that role for you. “If you state a problem, you better be ready to state a solution and figure out the resources you need to implement the solution.”

Ask Questions

“The asking of questions does not come until there is trust and rapport. Once that foundation is built, that’s when the trust is built.”

Keep at It

Create opportunities. The goal is to change the system, not the person. “This is exhausting.”

Don’t forget to register for Washington University’s Day of Discovery & Dialogue 2018 — Staying Resilient in Challenging Times, running Tuesday evening on the Medical Campus and Wednesday on the Danforth Campus.