Scheller’s panel on workforce diversity, inclusion

Photo courtesy of Scheller College of Business

In an increasingly globalized workforce, it is not just technical skills that employers seek in candidates, but also knowledgeability on diversity and inclusion. 

On Feb. 13, an all-female panel from diverse career backgrounds gathered at the Scheller College of Business to discuss how these tenants of diversity and inclusion impact the current workforce. 

“Diversity and inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do from social perspectives, but it makes sense from a business perspective,” said Scheller dean Maryam Alavi in the introduction, citing research on the increasing globalization of business markets and how diversity increases innovation on teams. 

For the three panelists, diversity is not just any other attribute of their career — it is their career.

After graduating with a B.S. in Physics, Dr. Nicole Cabrera Salazar earned a Ph.D. from Georgia State University. Her experience as a female Latina astronomer in academia left her wanting more, so she started her own company. Her company, Movement Consulting, currently works to support marginalized scientists. 

“When I walk into the doorway, it’s like I’m walking through a cutout of the person I’m supposed to be,” she said of her previous academic career. “It’s not just something I can take on or assimilate to. It’s scraping away at my flesh. And that is just to do science.”

“The number one reason marginalized people leave STEM is lack of belonging. I am bringing humanity back into STEM,” shared Cabrera Salazar. 

The second panelist Nicole Jones oversees Delta’s Global Innovation Center in Atlanta. She manages a team that seeks to include all types of employees to help improve Delta’s customer experience. 

Jones also noted that diversity does not just include a variety of ethnicities but also encompasses ages and types of experience as well, from high school interns to executives. 

Jones even encourages employees to leave and join different departments, or sometimes even different career paths. This turnover allows room for new employees with a fresh look into their operations.

“Success starts with being intentional about measuring diversity and inclusion,” Jones said. 

The final panelist, Emma Hind, further stressed the importance of diversity when it comes to success. As a director at Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) she measures success not by filling quotas of certain types of employees but by asking questions.

“Do you feel encouraged? Listened to?” She said as examples of what  she asks her colleagues. 

Hind started her work with IHG in housekeeping for hotel rooms after dropping out of college. She now serves as a director of Global Revenue Strategy Enablement and pilots a program that allows employees from minority groups to form resource groups.

 From a lack of representation on corporate boards to the motivations for corporations to strive for diversity, the panelists discussed a variety of other issues concerning diversity and inclusion in the business world. They ended the panel with applicable tips, such as encouraging those entering a career to look for companies that value diversity.

“Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated,” Hind advised. 

The panelists further recommended for students to conduct research, use social media and network with other minority leaders when searching for jobs and other career opportunities. 

They panelists also offered advice for students looking into companies that are currently lacking in diversity. They advocated for taking an active role in increasing awareness of inclusion and leading others to follow by example — or, as Jones put it, “being the change.”

The event was attended by current Tech students and faculty as well as by potential MBA students from other colleges. With many from the audience swarming to the panelists after the event in order to express their appreciation, the excitement seemed to hint at the coming of a more diverse educational and corporate world in the near future.