Before I begin, I’d like to comment on how amazing it is to have Dr. Simmons back in class! We, the Humanics scholars, missed him very much! 😊 (Welcome back Dr. Simmons! We love you!)
Monday night’s guest speaker was none other than THE GREAT Dr. Matthew Jendian. He spoke on Equity, Equality, and Diversity as it relates to the functions of a CBO board. The portion of the discussion that got me thinking was on representation and tokenism. When we talk about the ideal CBO board here lately, diversity tends to be one of the top criteria, but how many boards are truly diverse? And what is diversity anyway? Dr. Jendian raised a good point; we tend to limit diversity to race and ethnicity, but diversity includes a number of primary dimensions (race, age, sexual orientation, disability) and secondary dimensions (religion, income, work experience, educational background). Unfortunately, these other factors are seldom taken into consideration during the board diversifying process. We found out that it isn’t uncommon for a board to bring on an African American, Latino(a), or some other minority representative, only to give the appearance of diversity and equality in the organization (tokenism). Hearing that took my mind back to various boards I’d seen online and praised for being racially diverse. I’m now interested to know about the recruitment process of those boards, and if they have policies guiding that diversification and integration process.
Dr. Jendian’s lecture also caused me to reflect on my own everyday interactions and perceptions. Of the questions he presented us, the three that stuck with me were:
- Which aspects of your social identity are important to you?
- How do your identities influence your sense of belonging to groups that you’re a part of?
- Which aspect of your social identity don’t feel as meaningful to you and why?
As an international student, this is something I have often pondered while being in the US these past 2 years. It’s been a journey and sometimes a battle, maintaining my own cultural identity (including my accent) in an effort to relate to my American peers. In the future I’d like to do Community Development consulting work around the world. I believe answering those three questions will be important for when I’m doing business in other countries with people whose culture is different and possibly opposite from mine. . .