Building a truly diverse and inclusive culture is a journey.
During Black History Month, we have been inspired by the journeys of Black leaders who have used their voices to champion diversity. They remind us of the importance of courage, resilience and compassion in creating everlasting change and building more diverse communities.
An important part of the journey of the Chambers College Diversity, Inclusion, Culture and Equity Committee is creating accountability for the actionable steps that we will take to champion change. Our partners heard from the DICE Committee in September 2020, where we outlined five action items to address during the 2020-’21 academic year. As part of our commitment to transparency, we are providing an update on our progress with those action items.
While these are small steps in the right direction to foster the culture we strive to create, we are still early in our journey to build a truly diverse, inclusive and equitable environment in the Chambers College. Meaningful change starts with listening. The DICE Committee is listening, learning and engaging many partners to understand broad perspectives on diversity and ensure they are represented in our work. In this way, we will better our community and create a space where all students, faculty and staff feel valued. We have a lot of work in front of us, but we have an engaged and growing group of 40 faculty, staff and student members who are dedicated to digging in and doing the hard work that is necessary to create meaningful change.
Action item #1: Development of a best practices handbook for faculty and staff to encourage inclusive conversations and practices in the classroom.
Update: I partnered with the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to champion this initiative. This handbook is complete and was distributed to Chambers College faculty and staff at the start of the spring 2021 semester. Conversations continue around how to encourage these important discussions in our teachings.
Action item #2: Development of diversity and inclusion modules for our freshman seminar courses.
Update: Dr. Susan Lantz, Rachel Nieman and Dr. Li Wang are championing this initiative. They are in the process of collecting diversity, inclusion and equity articles and experiences from faculty. They are also seeking opportunities for guest speakers to relay their experiences, while engaging partners for ideas to create lasting impact with our students about the importance of diversity.
Action item #3: Develop and strengthen partnerships with local minority-owned businesses.
Update: Anna Carrier, Isaac Obioma, and Dr. Elizabeth Vitullo are championing this initiative. The Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship partnered with U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. to offer a Grow with Google webinar in September focused on training participants to learn about how customers can find their businesses online, including utilizing USBC’s BuyBlack initiative, a directory to find and support Black entrepreneurs and Google’s Black-owned business profile attribute. This was promoted to all West Virginia business owners as part of our land-grant mission.
Action item #4: Redevelop and relaunch student organizations in the College. This includes Women in Business, Students of Color in Business, and International Business organizations.
Update: I am working with Rachel Nieman, Dr. Lauren Cooper and Dr. Susan Lantz on championing this initiative. The Women in Business and Students of Color in Business organizations have launched and are actively engaged in the College’s student community, holding events to build supportive, engaged communities of alumni and students together to expand our conversations and perspectives.
Action item #5: Development of social justice awareness and educational business programming. We have focused on three areas to develop this year: disability policies in business, social inequalities in healthcare, and inequalities in marketing and media.
Update: I am working with a task force across the College to create programming for disability policies in business and social inequalities in healthcare this term. A healthcare disparities panel was held earlier this month, and the disability policies in business will be focused on self-advocacy for students with disabilities. Please check the events section of our DICE page for updates as we add new events and panels around these important topics.
Additional action item: Scholarships to empower underrepresented students.
While we initially identified this as a longer-term action item, our incredible community of alumni have quickly rallied to support diversity scholarships for students. We are immensely grateful to Visiting Committee members Penni Roll and Mark Toney for designating scholarships for Chambers College students who are part of underrepresented populations. Our College namesake John Chambers also designated a Chambers Fellows Program to empower underrepresented students to grow into entrepreneurs in late 2020. Financial support is critical to recruiting diverse students, and these are important steps to build forward movement in these efforts. To learn more about eligibility for these scholarships, please contact Director of Recruitment and Retention Rachel Nieman at Rachel.Nieman@mail.wvu.edu.
DICE will continue to strive to build upon these important initiatives as part of our mission to celebrate, champion and embed diversity, equity and inclusion into the Chambers College culture. We can only achieve this through transparent and honest communication. If you wish to share your voice, your experiences, or your ideas for making our community more welcoming, please reach out to me personally at email@example.com. The DICE committee is here to listen.
You can learn more about our mission and opportunities for engagement with diversity initiatives by visiting our webpage at: https://business.wvu.edu/about/diversity-and-inclusion.
Thank you for your continued support on our journey to make the Chambers College a place where diversity and inclusion is part of the fabric of our community.