by Olivia Discon
This week, thanks to SHSU’s Luzi Espinoza and Dr. Rachel Valle, we had the privilege to attend the Diversity First Conference & Training, held from April 24th to April 27th. The virtual conference consisted of several presentations from professionals who are committed to improving diversity in the workplace and the conversations surrounding how to responsibly and effectively have these conversations.
There were many courses and workshops on the conduct of an inclusive professional environment, such as Leading With Emotional Intelligence, Anti-Racism 101, and Cultural Competence. Many of these courses emphasized the concepts of allyship, inclusivity, and understanding of other cultures. As students entering the professional domain, we will need a full understanding of the value of diverse voices are and how they contribute to efficient, innovative, and welcoming spaces.
While we thoroughly enjoyed all of the presentations we watched, we particularly enjoyed Empathy 101 by Dr. Aires Davis, and Ally-ship DEI Measurements by Al Sullivan. Both sessions stressed the importance of self awareness and listening to others. They were engaging and initiated thought-provoking discussions throughout their presentations.
On Wednesday morning, we joined Professor Mike Yawn, Stephanie Fors, and Sarah-Hope Carter for a group session regarding microaggressions in the workplace.
Led by Al Sullivan, the course gave an in-depth explanation of what a microaggression may look like and how to respond to one.
In order to make effective change outside of identification, Sullivan provided a feedback model for conversations amongst professional peers. We appreciate the acknowledgement that micro-aggressions, while unintentional, are a natural response from our personal biases; and it is only through a conscious effort to unlearn them that we are able to transcend discriminatory behavior.
We are very grateful to have the opportunity to attend the Diversity First Conference. Through the courses, we have learned (and unlearned) practices to ensure an inclusive environment in the professional scope. Many thanks to Dr. Valle and Ms. Espinoza and SHSU for this opportunity!