Diversity Efforts in the Works

First, I want to introduce a new section called “What Works!” in which we feature successful efforts on the part of colleges and universities to tackle anything from diversity recruitment to fund raising. The first column debuts on pg. 12. We invite all of our readers to submit a brief synopsis via e-mail outlining the problem, action taken and the result. A member of the editorial staff will follow up with selected columns. Please e-mail me at editor@diverseeducation.com with your idea and type whatworks in the subject line. We hope this section will benefit all of our readers, as we can all learn from each other. Now to our annual recruitment and retention edition. In this issue, we highlight the efforts of the higher education community as well as the private sector to improve access to historically underrepresented groups.

 

Take the private sector for example. It is not diversifying its workforce just for the sake of diversity; there is often, if not always, an economic imperative at play. Our cover story, “Cultural and Linguistic Ambidexterity,” illustrates this point. At the University of Texas at El Paso, which borders Mexico, many of its students are bilingual, speaking English and Spanish fluently. This has benefited many U.S. companies that do business in Mexico. In our article, we specifically focus on bilingual engineering students who have worked in Mexico. They are an asset for not only their technical expertise, but they often serve as translators when complicated technical issues arise, able to communicate with employees from both the U.S. and Mexico firms. In addition, because many of these students are of Mexican heritage, they are able to navigate both American and Mexican cultural nuances in the workplace.

 

As we talk about diversifying the workforce, it seems that one industry in particular is in serious need of doing so. In the article “Counting on a More Diverse Workforce,” Diverse correspondent Cassie M. Chew looks at the field of accounting, where minorities made up 8 percent of certified public accountants working for public accounting firms as of 2004, with Blacks comprising just 1 percent. One of the “big four” auditing firms, Deloitte & Touche LLP USA, recognized that they were going to have to be proactive about changing their own workforce demographics and launched the Future Leaders Apprentice Program a year ago. Selected FLAP scholars, which can be undergraduate or graduate students, are given scholarships toward educational expenses, and receive leadership development training and mentors. The company hopes that by participating in FLAP, retention among new hires will improve and that with leadership training and mentorship support, minority employees will not only stay but also excel at the company.

 

Going back to academia, senior writer Ronald Roach profiles Texas’ Closing the Gaps initiative which, adopted in 2000 by Texas officials, aims to increase the number of Texas college students by 630,000 students by 2015 to reach a total enrollment of 1.6 million students at more than 140 Texas public and independent higher education institutions. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reported that college enrollment in the state started to slow down around fall 2003. However, Texas is not deterred. Leaders realize they need an educated workforce to compete effectively against other U.S. states in attracting and retaining growing industries. Read more about the initiative in “Campaigning for College.”  

Lastly, senior writer David Pluviose catches up with Dr. James H. Ammons, the new president of Florida A&M University. For Ammons, this is like a homecoming as he served as provost of FAMU before becoming president of North Carolina Central University in 2001. For the past few years, FAMU has stayed in the headlines for issues ranging from accreditation problems to financial mismanagement. Ammons knows he has a long “to do” list, but the FAMU community is welcoming him back in hopes that he can turn around one of the country’s largest Black universities.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso
Editor

 



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