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George Mason UniversitySchool of Business

Diversity and Inclusion Workshop Series Provides Opportunities to Open Up and Learn

Written by Greg Johnson on .

Last month, the School of Business completed the Diversity and Inclusion Workshop Series to coincide with Celebrate Diversity Month. Jointly presented by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the School of Business Alumni Chapter and the School of Business Office of Student Success and Academic Services, the series provided a judgement-free zone where participants could share experiences, ask questions, and learn from each other and from the moderators. “Whether the attendees were in Herndon or in Albuquerque, New Mexico, our Patriots came together and created a space for virtual adult learning and sharing,” says Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair Jennifer Rhodes, EMBA ’05. “Each personal contribution enriched the experience for all those involved.”

Rather than installing the same moderators for all four sessions, the School of Business selected different individuals who could relate to the individual topics. “The workshop on bias in organizations and institutions was excellent and so inclusive of participants,” says moderator Yoshie Davison, MSW ‘09, vice president of LIVE Committee, George Mason University Alumni Association. “We learned so much in the way of combating bias by practicing culturally intelligent strategies.” Another moderator, School of Business Alumni Chapter President Scott Hine, BS Decision Science ’85, notes, “The workshops provided an exceptional opportunity to openly discuss diversity and inclusion related topics and to identify ways we can improve individually and organizationally.”

The School of Business is well positioned to lend many voices of expertise to the conversation, especially with its variety of centers and institutes. One of those centers collaborating on the workshop was the Business for a Better World Center (B4BWC). “Our Business for a Better World Center, the School of Business, and George Mason University all value equity and inclusive excellence,’ says B4BWC Co-Executive Director Lisa Gring-Pemble. “Working with faculty, staff, students, and alumni to create the Diversity and Inclusion Workshop is one important way we can walk our talk and role model for our community what it takes to ensure an equitable and just society.”

The feedback from workshop series participants illustrates how effective the sessions were. “This has been an excellent series. All of the presenters have been amazing. The content is fuel to move our advocacy forward,” says Melissa Hartman, MBA ‘95. Laura Niel, BS Accounting ’87, adds, “Thank you to the School of Business for a great series and encouraging us to be diversity and inclusion ambassadors. I’m very proud to be a Mason Patriot.” Another participant, Renée Harrison, MBA ’12, says, “I really appreciate this type of free workshop available as a graduate of Mason.”

The faculty, staff, and alumni understand that diversity is a strength at Mason and that workshops like these one go a long way in training everyone to be more effective and inclusive in their work and everyday interactions. “Everyone was so candid and vulnerable while sharing important aspects of their identity and worked together to understand cultural values, unconscious bias, power, and privilege,” says School of Business Academic Adviser Malerie Gamblin, who presented some of the workshop and co-chairs the School of Business Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Taskforce. “We all learned a lot from each other that we will use to make a difference in our world.”