In an independently organized TED event, four LeBow students unpacked their personal experiences with diversity and what truly inclusive classrooms, workplaces and communities could look like in the future.
Presenting on topics exploring gender, race and ethnicity, the students spoke of their individual experiences navigating their daily lives and how their identity impacted not only their career outlooks, but their interactions with coworkers, roles within their communities, and their interpersonal relationships.
Lotus Barron, a junior studying marketing, presented, “How deep does it go? My perspective on the current progress of Diversity & Inclusion.” Barron’s talk highlighted the difference between her identity as a personal value and experience versus the value her identity presents for institutions. “Diversity and inclusion is a doctrine. It’s not a marketing trend,” she said. “My value in these institutions goes further than the value that I’m able to put on the bottom line, the products I’m able to sell, and the students I’m able to bring in. It’s more than bringing me a seat at the table – it’s about making sure that seat is comfortable.”
Chaiti Phanse, a sophomore studying finance, shared a similar sentiment with a different focus. Phanse’s topic was “Women in Leadership: How diversity and inclusion are key to making this happen,” and highlighted the value of women in top positions and the impact that it could have on the aspirations of women at the beginning or midway point of their careers. “It’s about ensuring that women get the critical experiences that they need so they can move forward in their careers […] so that more women can envision a future in an industry that supports them,” she said.
“The Discovery of my Blackness,” was presented by Tamyka George, a pre-junior studying accounting. George’s topic explored how her view of her identity changed as she moved to the United States from Trinidad & Tobago and how that view changed even more during a study abroad trip.
Nika Chugh, a junior studying marketing and communications, presented, “Age of the Brown Woman; Issues faced by Indian women in today’s workplace.” Chugh explained that her topic and the saying “Age of the Brown Woman” work as a way to affirm her identity and highlight how it plays a critical role in guiding her throughout her journey. “We needed something to celebrate our successes,” she said, “And celebrate that our successes weren’t in spite of our race, but because of it. And [our successes] weren’t in spite of gender, but because of it.”
Each student’s experience provided a glimpse into their daily life, their aspirations, and a way for others to celebrate their differences as a path to a brighter future.
For these LeBow students, going beyond the status quo and looking toward true inclusivity means a transformation in not only the faces of those who are in power, but the way we structure our workplaces and communities as a whole.