The four-day event brought together academics, nonprofits and leaders from law enforcement, healthcare and education to discuss the systemic inequities faced by minorities and communities of color and how we can work together toward building a stronger and more diverse, inclusive and equitable society.
Diversity, inclusivity and equality are tenets central to the American experience. From the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 until today, America was built on the concept that everyone is created equal and that we all have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Democracies thrive on diversity, and tyrannies oppress it. Malcolm Forbes, the renowned entrepreneur, said that “diversity is the art of thinking independently together.” Diversity makes us stronger, smarter and more innovative while helping us better serve the needs of our people and communities.
For all our strengths and the diverse opinions and abilities that make our country so great, we have our fair share of issues to contend with. Last year was a watershed moment for the national conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion. With the world thrown into turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the harsh realities faced by society’s most marginalized and susceptible communities became clearer than ever before. From police shootings and racial profiling to the stark disparities between communities for health and education outcomes and access to wealth, technology and opportunity, we live in a divided world. And we must act now if we are to leave a better future for our children.
University of Phoenix’s recent webinar series focused on essential conversations in diversity, equity and inclusion. The series was held in conjunction with the National Diversity Council (NDC), a nonprofit that provides support and strategic direction for companies to formulate and implement successful diversity initiatives. The NDC actively participates in training, consulting and research and also provides services in the areas of branding, certification, education and mentoring.
The series was part of the NDC’s long-running initiatives aimed at cultivating a nationwide network of institutions and organizations to advance diversity and inclusion. By transforming our workplaces and communities into safe and inclusive environments, people can be valued for their talents and can be provided with the resources they need to reach their fullest potential.
University of Phoenix boasts a remarkably diverse student and faculty body, with a more than 60 percent female student population and over half of all students belonging to an ethnic minority. Also, over half the University’s instructors are female and about one-quarter belong to an ethnic minority. As such, the webinar series tied in very well with the University mandate to provide exceptional learning and advancement opportunities to all.
The series touched on many different aspects of the diversity, inclusion and equity discussion. For example, Kelly Price Noble, chairperson of the College of Health Professions at the Department of Health Administration at University of Phoenix, talked about how the need to belong is a pervasive human motive and that humans can suffer from selective memories for socially relevant stimuli when their social needs are unmet. These facts give the discussion on inclusion an important yet often overlooked psychological angle.
Similarly, there were sessions on addressing diversity, equity and inclusion through police reform, which featured leaders from various law enforcement agencies. These sessions reviewed police culture and the impacts of political realities on the police force. Speakers also discussed both successful and unsuccessful policies and programs implemented by police forces across the country toward building a better, fairer, more effective and more understanding police force. These conversations touched on the many generational challenges faced across the country as well as the role of new technologies in policing and the never-ending debate on the use of force.
The second half of the webinar series focused on overcoming disparities in delivering quality patient care and public health as well as the role higher education can play in developing inclusive student bodies. For the healthcare sessions, leaders from medical and healthcare fields discussed healthcare disparities and why they matter. They also discussed key initiatives that can eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the delivery of patient-centered care.
For the higher education talks, conversations revolved around current practices related to student support, community outreach and pandemic response. Speakers featured many University of Phoenix program directors such as Kimberly Underwood, Ph.D., research chair at the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research, and Saray Lopez, director of student diversity, equity and inclusion. Members and leaders from local faith-based groups and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also participated.
During the sessions, all attendees were provided with a blueprint that would help them champion equity conversations in their spheres of influence. Action items were designed to help attendees lead the change they wished to see in the organizations and communities they serve, part of NDC’s and University of Phoenix’s commitments toward building a better, more understanding and inclusive tomorrow.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix was founded in 1976 with a focus toward workplace training and success. University programs are designed to provide adults with the education that can help them succeed in their personal and professional lives. The University provides students with access to experienced subject-matter professionals, and diverse social and professional networks, but also to lifelong learning and discovery. Learn more about programs and offerings at https://www.phoenix.edu/.