Recently, three of our Thinkers, Colleen LaHaise, Jaime Snelgrove, and Kristyn Dees, completed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace certification through the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business. The seven-week program covered topics such as emotional intelligence, stereotypes and biases, community outreach, applying DEI practices to business models, and more. Each session included a panel discussion, keynote address, and a lecture—all featuring USF professors and thought leaders in the DEI field.
Colleen, Jaime, and Kristyn shared some highlights from their experience with the program:
I loved the course structure and gleaned a lot of value from each session, especially Emotional Intelligence, Recruitment & Retention, Community Outreach, and Stereotypes & Biases. The program helped me create more self-awareness about where I am on my journey with DEI and emboldened me to speak up and make a positive impact. The program also served as a reminder about how storytelling and hearing different perspectives are powerful tools for change.
Stereotypes & Biases was one of my favorite modules because it showcased the power of storytelling. Dr. Miguel Angel Hernandez (el/him), a panelist with intersectional identities of Puerto Rican, Latino, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, recounted the day of (and days following) the June 12th Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016. Many leaders and peers in his workplace did not reach out following the shooting. Their silence added to the trauma of the event for both Dr. Hernandez and his fellow LGBTQ+ peers and students. His powerful story echoes the importance of investing in understanding and reminds us to slow down, show up, and listen to the lived experiences of others. While none of us can truly understand the lived experience of someone else, we can listen, support, and have brave conversations with empathy, a curious mindset, and an open heart.
Throughout the program, I found myself humbled by the scope of the work that needs to be done in the DEI space, but the material was delivered with such care that I never felt overwhelmed. The program leveraged the experiences of dozens of professionals, along with academic research, to empower us to take next steps as effective DEI practitioners. I loved that emotional intelligence was the foundation for everything. A quote from one of the speakers, Dr. K. Doreen MacAulay, stuck with me: “So when you’re asking someone to change, you’re asking them to change their identity—question the way they do things, question the way that they ask things, question the way they talk about things. You need to be able to equip them to deal with that effectively. And that’s where the emotional intelligence comes in. That’s where we have this need for people to truly understand what it is that they are experiencing to be able to help them move past it.”
We are excited to see how Colleen, Jaime, and Kristyn use their knowledge and expertise to empower all of us at Think Up to further implement DEI practices into our culture, the way we work, and in our community.