February 28, 2017

Event helps students think outside the box

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” – Verna Myers.
The Monte Ahuja College of Business concluded its diversity and inclusion week on Thursday, Feb. 11 with an interactive discussion hosted by Carrie Gideon of Progressive Insurance.

The finale drew around 30 students who crowded into the BU 220 conference room.
At the start of the meeting, students were asked to connect a grid of nine dots, using only four lines, and without removing the pen from the paper. Not one person in the room was successful in doing so until Gideon shared the answer. The solution was one that required an unconventional method of thinking; in other words, diversity. 

Gideon demonstrated the need for women in the field of information technologies by discussing unique issues that come from a lack of diversity within any workplace, specifically IT.Her areas of expertise focus on different aspects of technology.  After working in several departments within a single company, Gideon saw first-hand the need for variety within work teams.

“The fact that I come from a different perspective gives me an advantage on a team,” she said. “We look at the same issue, the same problem, but we come at it from different angles.”

Since individuals possess unique solutions to problems, Gideon noted, the greater the diversity within a team, the more likely an issue is to be solved. It is putting diverse thought into action as opposed to stimulating similar thinking and agreeable viewpoints.

Gideon shared some substantial statistics about diversity and inclusion. Organizations with more inclusive cultures have an easier time recruiting and have a 22 percent lower turnover rate. Less diverse teams are not simply losing, but also falling behind diverse teams, she explained.

Gideon made the following recommendations to her own question,” “So what can you do?” at the conclusion of her presentation.

“Collaborate and share within work teams in order to bring more seats to the table rather than fight for seats. Be a mentor to fellow employees. Remember that diversity is reciprocal, including both teaching and learning. And be willing to have courageous conversations to break stereotypes.”

The solution? Thinking outside the box.


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