The topic of diversity is an ongoing conversation throughout schools, organizations, and the working world, as its importance continues to be realized. Studies have shown that companies that foster inclusion and diversity have higher profits and outperform their competitors.
However, the idea of entering the workforce and facing the challenges that often come along with identifying with a minority group can be daunting for undergraduate students. Student organizations such as Undergraduate Women in Business (UWiB) aim to help combat this by empowering undergraduate students.
“Our mission is to inspire and empower the next generation of business leaders,” Taylor Daymont-Hunt, the director of publicity at UWiB, said. “The main thing we do is connect our members to people with success stories, through events such as ‘Closing the Gap.’”
UWiB hosts Closing the Gap every year, an event in which a panel of speakers of diverse backgrounds come together to share their stories with a room full of equally diverse students. At this year’s event, one emphasis was on the choice we each have to surround ourselves with diversity and therefore create an environment of inclusion, whether it be in the classroom or in the workplace.
“You’re in the driver’s seat,” Tim Salau, founder of Mentors & Mentees, an online platform for students and professionals, said. “You get to decide where you work and who you work with. Becoming intentional about surrounding yourself with communities of diverse individuals is a very important step in growing your global perspective and unleashing your own unique skills.”
Joining student organizations that foster diversity, such as UWiB, is an opportunity to be intentional, and step into a community of people with a variety of backgrounds. And while UWiB focuses on gender diversity and the challenges it brings, the organization sheds light on many other forms of diversity as well.
“It goes beyond just the gender gap that exists between men and women,” Daymont-Hunt said. “A lot of our members are facing other types of challenges, aside from just being a female in the business world.”
According to Daymont-Hunt, understanding that diversity comes in a variety of forms is essential to UWiB’s mission.
“There’s that motto of, ‘None of us are equal until all of us are equal,’” Daymont-Hunt said. “You can’t separate one form of diversity from another. Each goes hand in hand, and closing the gap refers to equality between all backgrounds and perspectives.”
“Diversity goes beyond your gender and skin color,” Salau said, illustrating a similar point. “Diversity is your unique skills, the challenges, and experiences you’ve learned from, and the path you’re taking now. It is your responsibility to reflect and understand what makes you special, and share that with the world.”
Another idea that was brought up a number of times throughout the event was the notion that we will all face diversity-related challenges at some point, and if it hasn’t happened yet, it will happen. However, each speaker mentioned how now is the best time to take action, as the conversation about the importance of diversity becomes increasingly prevalent.
“We want students of all backgrounds to educate themselves, and use their peers, as well as the speakers we bring in at events such as this, as a resource,” Daymont-Hunt said. “A lot of companies also have organizations with similar goals as UWiB.”
Being part of a diverse network of individuals provides a foundation for empowerment, according to Daymont-Hunt.
“Know that you are going to have those challenges,” Daymont-Hunt added. “But know that there are going to be people that support you as well.”
Reach writer Indigo Bruno-Hopps at email@example.com. Twitter: @HoppsIndigo
Like what you’re reading? Support high-quality student journalism by donating here.