By Rachel Luce-Hitt, Coordinator, Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity. The word has received a bad rap over the years. Often, it has been viewed as something that needed to be “dealt with” or “managed.” Diversity is not a problem; however, a lack of inclusion can be.
At Valencia, we are taking a different approach as we move toward creating a culture of inclusive excellence. With this approach — inclusive excellence — the focus is how we respond to diversity. Through the lens of inclusive excellence, we see how people with various backgrounds, skills and experiences can really complement, and inevitably strengthen, a team.
Diverse teams are not always strong teams, but diverse teams that work in inclusive environments are strong, creative, productive and resilient. Inclusive excellence also requires that each of us, regardless of position at the College, take responsibility and do our part to create inclusive environments to learn, work and grow. As a supervisor, how do you create an inclusive environment for your team?
There are many opportunities at Valencia to assist you and your team on this journey of inclusion. The best place to start is to build a strong foundation of trust and communication within your work environment. Embedding the Principles for How We Treat Each Other will help in this process and can become the core from which to expand.
Informal development can happen right there in your department. Why not try hosting your own mini conversations on inclusion?
Books, such as “What If? Short Stories to Spark Diversity Dialogue” by Steve L. Robbins, are great tools to use. This book and other diversity titles are available in the Leadership Library for you to borrow. To use the Leadership Library, simply log in to Atlas, go to the “Employees” tab and under the “My Development” section, click on “Professional Development Resources” and then “Leadership Library.”
For formal training, all employees can take advantage of Safe Zone (LGBTQI ally certificate) launching in the EDGE this month. Faculty members can also take advantage of the professional development workshops, The Danger of a Single Story; Inclusion and Diversity; or Engaging Underrepresented Students in STEM.
One very special opportunity for all employees is the Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) program, which aims to help participants reflect upon and connect their individual experiences to the wider systemic context, gaining new insights into how they can make their surroundings more gender fair, multiculturally equitable and globally informed.
Each year, a new cohort of 20 – 30 people are selected to participate in the SEED program at Valencia, which consists of monthly three-hour seminars spanning an academic year. The online application process will open on Monday, April 13, 2015, and close two weeks later on Monday, April 27, 2015. The next SEED program will then begin in September 2015.
Please encourage your employees to apply for this informative and insightful program. We are currently looking for a diverse (in every sense of the word) group of applicants, both staff and faculty members, at all levels and locations in the College, for the 2015 – 2016 cohort.
If you or a member of your team is interested or have questions, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or extension 8081 for more information.