Wednesday, April 30, 2014

7 Best Tips for Landing a Diversity Job in 2014


Soon it is time for many in college to say goodbye to the comforting world of their alma mater; time to set foot in the real world out there, look for a diversity job and launch a diversity career.

Some of you perhaps may have already been starting to send out your resumés and join the thousands of other jobseekers in the job market today.

Whether you're a fresh graduate, or currently under-employed, or even someone wanting to make a mid-career shift, job searching can be a daunting, frustrating task that can make the weak-hearted give up easily.

You do not have to, more so when you are confident you have equipped yourself with the best tools that can give you the edge in the competitive race for a job.

Here are 7 best tips to help you land a diversity job in 2014:

1. Apply for what you are qualified for.
“Applicants are actually causing the problem by applying for everything,” says Zulic, director of human relations for outsourcing firm Efficient Edge. “Apply for what you’re qualified for, not what you’re not qualified for.” See here

2. Decide what kind of job you are seeking, then brand yourself according to that job.
Having the right education and training for it is a plus, but the harsh reality is sometimes it is difficult to find a suitable job match to your educational background.

Carry on. Even if you can’t get a job, you can still work on building up experience in other ways: volunteer within your industry, get a part-time job, or enroll in online classes and work towards a new credential.  See more at
 
3. Create your resumé to stand out from the rest.
Here is one great resumé tip shared by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO. He writes in his article, “How I Hire: 5 Tips for Landing a Job at IDEO” they look for candidates that are “good cultural fit” - that is, one who can fit the company's culture: creative, collaborative and human-centered. And candidates who have impressed them with their resumés are those “who have wowed us have taken creative license and gone the extra mile to demonstrate their capabilities and passion. They’ve made video portraits, designed custom apps or, in one case, brought turntables connected to a dancing robot for an impromptu DJ set.” Read more here

4. Prepare well for the interview.
Show your best self, from the way you are appropriately dressed, to the enthusiasm that is beaming within you. Do some  research about the company, and let them know how you can contribute to the company's growth. Also, you may cite an example from your previous experience when you were able to provide a solution to a problem, or were able to initiate some new practice, all these to show your preparedness for the job. Ask relevant questions as well to show your keen interest in the company.

Practice answering common job-interview questions like “Why are you interested in this job?” “What’s been your biggest learning experience so far?” “What’s your greatest weakness? and “Why should we hire you?” See more

5. Build a good network
Brad Schepp, co-author of How To Find A Job On LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+, writes about one surprising, yet cool tip when using social media. He suggests you should not be asking people “outright for a job. Make connections with the right people and let them see you are an intelligent, qualified candidate by updating your statuses several times a week, providing content to the groups you join, and tweeting about that interesting article you just read.” Read more here
 
6. Use your initiative.
Don’t just wait for adverts. Show employers how motivated and resourceful you are by contacting them directly to offer your services.Tell them why you want to work for their company specifically. See here
 
7. Go to DiversityWorking.com, a career opportunity resource and job search engine for the cultural diversity marketplace. Look through its list of prestigious member diversity companies, and browse for diversity jobs that fit your interests and qualifications.

Finally, let this famous wise saying by Confucius guide you somehow in your diversity job search: "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."




Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Diversity Writing Contests for Students Promote Better Understanding and Tolerance for Others



Around the country, schools do their part in raising an awareness in their students about the invaluable lesson of diversity. By sponsoring diversity writing contests for their students, schools aim to promote better understanding and tolerance for others who come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

One high school student from Staples High School wrote the following:
“Beyond economic strength, a mix of ethnicities will make us more tolerant and empathetic towards others. Rather than recoiling from a gay couple or crossing to the other side of a street from a black man in a hoodie, we can learn to see these individuals as people rather than a blanketed ‘other’.”

This is part of her winning essay about diversity, and she was one of the 3 students from Staples High who won the TEAM Westport’s Teen Diversity Essay Contest, conducted for all high school students who are residents of Westport or attend school in the town, and co-sponsored by TEAM Westport and the Westport Library.

Another co-student writes, “I don’t think I can really complete an education in life until I join bigger, more varied conversations. America’s diversity means access to cultures and traditions and ideas from every corner of the globe.” Her essay won the 1st prize.

The contest asked teens to reflect on the impact of changes in U.S. demographics with the expectation that racial and ethnic groups that are currently in the minority in our country will collectively outnumber whites within thirty years, and specifically, to “describe what you think are the benefits and challenges of this change for Westport and for you, personally.”

 
Recently too, in Oklahoma, a similar competition was held by the YWCA Enid for elementary, middle and high school students, its annual Stop Racism Youth Challenge, the goal of which is to empower students with the skills to lead and influence others to eliminate racism and prejudice.

Students from elementary schools within the area of Enid were asked to submit a poster depicting their view of racism and prejudice. Middle and high school students, on the other hand, were asked to write an essay on the topic, “Diversity, what would the world be if everyone was just like me?”

Diversity has become a byword these days. True, especially in the academe and in the workplace, but the concept of diversity is not truly comprehensible, nor deeply ingrained, as it should be. Racial hatred still lurks in many corners of society.

Thus, it has become more imperative that schools do their best to teach and inculcate an appreciation for diversity, so that students can learn to get along well with others, develop an understanding of and respect for different perspectives, and foster genuine friendships with those from other races, cultures, and beliefs. One way then is through such meaningful activities as diversity writing contests.

Diversity writing contests are also a means to let children and the youth in schools to collaborate with one another, as did the Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge, which was sponsored by Pepco Holdings and B’nai B’rith for South Jersey students. It is a contest that asked high school students to write and illustrate an original book to help elementary school children celebrate tolerance and diversity. Read more

The children and the youth of today are the hope of the nation, and starting them young to become more tolerant, appreciative and respectful of the growing diversity in American society, it will not be long when "outright injustice and violence, discrimination and marginalization" will no longer tread this great land. To quote UNESCO,
Education for tolerance should aim at countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others, and should help young people develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning.




Saturday, April 26, 2014

A New Diversity Working Construct


In the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling upholding Michigan's ban on affirmative action, the storm has not quieted. It is time to move on though, yet not without pondering on a new diversity working construct that affirms and is more sensitive to others' differences: racial, cultural, linguistic, beliefs, customs, gender, sexual identity and the like.

It is time to realize the concept of diversity can mean differently from one individual to another, from people to people; hence diversity approach also differs. The question is, can there be diversity working without affirmative action? It makes sense to call for a better way to achieve diversity.

SC Ruling on Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action

A news report describes how the decision revealed deep divisions among the justices over the government’s role in protecting minorities. Justice Sotomayor wrote in her impassioned dissent the initiative put minorities to a burden not faced by other college applicants. “The one and only policy a Michigan citizen may not seek through this long-established process,” she wrote, “is a race-sensitive admissions policy.” That difference, she said, violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

In contrast, the report continues, Justice Anthony Kennedy defended the controlling opinion: “This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved,” he wrote, in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “It is about who may resolve it. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.” 

 The bottomline is, according to the SC decision, it is the people who decide how to manage the issue of race in college admissions.

Reactions to Affirmative Action

It is clear affirmative action, whose main aim is for “equal protection” has been seen more negatively than otherwise, by many -- but for the oft-marginalized groups, they see it as their only means of leverage -- to have equal access to education and employment opportunities.

One opinion on this goes to say “equal protection” transformed into a mandate for race discrimination by morphing affirmative action into diversity and declaring diversity a state purpose important enough to justify racial preferences.
 
A personal observation comes from Mercedes Vromant, of Canton, Michigan, “There is good and bad to it just like anything else and if one group is favored, the other suffers,” she said. “Then people think they are entitled to something and abuse the system which ends up unfair to the majority. There should be an equal playing field and diversity.” She added that she believes in diversity, but with equality.


This was acknowledged by SC Justice Sonia Sotomayor who, as reported by Washington Post, wrote that she was not going to use the term “affirmative action” because of its connotation of “intentional preferential treatment” such as quotas, because the court has outlawed such practices. Instead, she called it a system of “race-sensitive admissions policies.”

Realities that Can Ground People's Understanding of Diversity

Some say the more "diverse" a place is, the more people self segregate, usually right along racial lines. Forced camaraderie works about as well as forced gratitude or forced apologies. In fact, studies show the same result. 
  
On the other hand, Dr. Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture, School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in one of her papers, noted that many educators and the schools in which they work are ill-prepared for diversity: white, middle-class, monolingual English-speaking women and men who have had little direct experience with cultural, ethnic, linguistic or other kinds of diversity, but they are teaching students who are phenomenally diverse in every way. Read more at 

An article on diversity, 'Chapter 12: Managing Diversity in the Workplace' offers a clear definition of diversity, and suggests managing diversity is a better option to affirmative action. It defines
  • Managing diversity as focusing on maximizing the ability of all employees to contribute to rganizational goals.
  • Affirmative action focuses on specific groups because of historical discrimination, such as people of color and women.
  • Affirmative action emphasizes legal necessity and social responsibility; managing diversity emphasizes business necessity.
  • In short, while managing diversity is also concerned with underrepresentation of women and people of color in the workforce, it is much more inclusive and acknowledges that diversity must work for everyone.
Moving our frame of reference from what may be our default view ("our way is the best way") to a diversity-sensitive perspective ("let's take the best of a variety of ways") will help us to manage more effectively in a diverse work environment. Read more at
  
The aforementioned suggestion can also be applied in schools and communities. By managing diversity, a more affirming diversity takes place, a more socially just society is created.

Finally, to have diversity working in education, in the workplace, and in the general society, diversity values need to be inculcated by every individual, young and old alike. To do so, developing a clearer, more encompassing view of the world around us is absolutely necessary. This helps
  • Develop greater insight into our interconnectedness.
  • Expand our awareness of different perspectives.
  • Enhance our self-awareness.










Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is Diversity Working with Affirmative Action?


Affirmative action is now put to rest, as it was voted down for Michigan colleges. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, a key decision in an unfolding legal and political battle nationally over affirmative action. 

 Just how beneficial the ban will prove to be, either for those against or those in favor of affirmative action, remains to be seen

Basically, the principle of affirmative action is to promote societal equality through the preferential treatment of socio-economically disadvantaged people, those who historically have been disadvantaged due to oppression or slavery. Thus, supporters say the aim of affirmative action is to ensure racial diversity in education and employment.

Diversity is an encompassing value that includes racial diversity, and diversity working in principle, allows for the inclusion of minorities group: Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and American Native Indians.
 
On the other hand, giving preferrential treatment, or accommodating an individual on the basis of race, as a means to increase diversity in the society, should also not mean excluding those from the mainstream of society – but it is how critics of affirmative action strongly view it. The idea itself has brought on a negative connotation that seems to impede the active promotion of diversity working in schools and in the workplace.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s fierce defense of the affirmative action efforts such as the ones that helped move her from a Bronx housing project to the upper echelons of American law found renewed voice Tuesday in an impassioned dissent: “This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable,” Sotomayor wrote. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”   Read more at

The aforementioned article mentions about Sotomayor's highlighting her personal experience, as a Latina, of benefitting from affirmative action: The search for minorities to diversify student bodies in the 1970s won her invitations and scholarship offers from Ivy League schools she had only just learned existed.
  
What impact will this legal ban on affirmative action in the state of Michigan then have on the rest of the country and education system?
 
In a fast-moving legal landscape, selective colleges everywhere face pressure on a number of fronts to change how they admit students. The argument resonates at colleges and universities with a public mission.
“People are focusing on recruiting more low-income students. They do that because they believe in it,” said M. Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. “But it also provides a contribution to diversity.” Read more at


States that forbid affirmative action in higher education, like Florida and California, as well as Michigan, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in their most selective colleges and universities, the New York Times said in its reportThus, many fear the trend will continue. 

A study shows a similar finding, and concludes that bans on affirmative action have had detrimental effects on the representation of people of color in postsecondary education. Read more at

The Supreme Court decision, critics say, could bolster similar bans in seven other states – California, Florida, Washington, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma and New Hampshire – or impact decisions in states that are considering similar bans. Supporters of the affirmative action ban say that all races should be treated equally, and that giving special treatment to minorities is tantamount to discrimination. See more here  

Another report says that the ruling is viewed as unlikely to have a direct effect on admissions at Iowa's three public universities, which have affirmative action policies regarding employment, but do not consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. However, two representatives of minority groups in Iowa expressed concerns about the decision.
 
None of these debates over the fairness or unfairness of the ban on affirmative action reveals strong opposition to diversity working; however, it is likely there may be differing concepts on what diversity entails, and how it can truly be achieved. This is the reason affirmative action has always been a divisive factor. 
 
Letting diversity work remains an important value to keep in society, but it needs more than policy changes to make most sectors of society become more aware, open-minded, and ready to embrace it. 


 

 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Microsoft Advocates Diversity in the Legal Profession; Grants $250,000 to LCLD


Microsoft Corporation enjoins young lawyers to seek better training and calls for greater diversity in the legal profession.

Last week, Brad Smith, the general counsel of Microsoft, spoke at the annual National Association for Law Placement conference in Seattle. "Go where you think you’ll get good training in the first four years. If you don’t get good training in the first four years, you will dig yourself into a deep hole," he said to young lawyers in attendance.

Smith also pointed to the several ways by which Microsoft has attempted to enhance opportunities for young law firm associates, among which is the Microsoft Advocacy Clinic, which offers promising first-, second- and third-years from law firms that represent Microsoft a chance to work together on projects, according to the article.

In a related news, it was reported that Microsoft has contributed $250,000 to the Legal Counsel for Legal Diversity to support strategic initiatives to diversify leadership and development opportunities across the legal profession.

LCLD is composed of the Managing Partners of the nation’s leading law firms and the General Counsel of Fortune 500 corporations.

The article quoted Brad Smith, Chair of the LCLD board of directors and General Counsel and Executive Vice President for Microsoft Corporation, “Unless the legal profession makes faster progress, it will miss out on the dynamism and creativity that diversity brings. We need a legal profession that is as diverse as the country we serve.” Read more here

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hewlett Packard Reiterates Commitment to Workforce Diversity


Hewlett Packard, through its CEO Meg Whitman reiterated its commitment to workforce diversity at a very brief meeting with the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the HP's annual shareholder meeting last month.

Rev. Jackson led a delegation to the annual meeting and had a nearly 10-minute exchange with CEO Meg Whitman. Jackson has cited lack of diversity at a range of Bay Area tech giants, it was reported.

Pushing for greater diversity that ensures that Blacks and Latinos are given prominent leadership roles in the booming industry, “Silicon Valley and tech industry have demonstrated that it can solve the most challenging and complex problems in the whole world," Jackson said during the meeting, which was held in Santa Clara. "We need you to assume a different level of leadership. Today, too few have too much, too many have too little, and the middle class is sinking."

In response, Whitman stated that Hewlett Packard has been for more than 40 years at the forefront of building racial diversity among its supliers, and expressed that HP may be the only major company that employs women in the positions of CEO and chief financial officer, in reference to Catherine Lesjak.

However, Whitman also conceded that there is indeed much to be done to increase diversity, not only in Silicon Valley, but in the whole country.

In the same article above, it was reported that HP Executive Vice President Henry Gomez stated in an email addressed to the Associated Press that HP spent nearly $1 billion with almost 500 minority business enterprises in the U.S. and an additional $500 million with businesses owned by women during 2013.