Passion to action: Fostering inclusivity in every space

  • February 14, 2019
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 3 minute read

Charlyn Moss, BSBA ’20, is studying finance, legal studies and the business of social impact at Washington University. She was among the organizers of the Olin Diversity & Inclusion Summit on February 8. She wrote this for the Olin Blog.

Olin’s annual Diversity & Inclusion Summit aims to push forward a movement of advocacy, so all Washington University students feel empowered to be their authentic selves, and to be sensitive to the varying experiences of individuals. To create thriving communities, it’s important we have a thriving understanding of what accepting culture looks and feels like.

This year, I wanted to focus on impact generation. Because the summit is only 2 years old, my team and I wanted to evolve the summit from the past year, allowing for a progressive legacy that can continue long after we graduate. While we had great corporate representatives last year with professionals representing Build-a-Bear, Facebook and Uber, we thought the summit could be more valuable if we focused on the depth of perspective and experience that each unique professional could offer versus the popularity or sizes of their firms.

My vision for this summit included more representation in gender, race and industry; more opportunity for discussion; more content on the St. Louis area; and of course, more streamlined logistics.

Diversity Summit 2019
Melanie Houston, training and education specialist, Center for Diversity & Inclusion at Washington University.

Hence, we had representatives from life sciences entrepreneurship firm BioSTL and human-centric consulting firm Slalom Consulting. We hosted a breakout session led by a fellow working for the St. Louis Regional Chamber.

And were also able to rope in Melanie Houston, training and education specialist for Washington University’s Center for Diversity & Inclusion, who opened a debrief and convergence space for summit attendees to discuss takeaways from the day.

By paying attention to how these pieces worked together to create one event, we were able to offer our attendees a more holistic and valuable experience.

For next year, we will focus more on our language. While “diversity and inclusion” are great buzzwords, two participants noted how “equity” also fits into this initiative. While “diversity and inclusion” focuses on having a seat at the table, equity ensures that everyone has access.

Equity acknowledges both advantages and barriers, according to Nicole Hudson, assistant vice chancellor of the premier Academy for Diversity and Inclusion at Washington University, and Cheryl Watkins Moore, director and lead of the Bioscience Entrepreneurial & Workforce Inclusion Initiative at BioSTL.

To me, diversity and inclusion means my unique identities, being black and being female, will no longer set me apart, but can be acknowledged with cultural sensitivity. And if I can do my part to help move our campus culture forward by putting a focus on the way we encourage and accept others, then I will continue to do that through the convening of this summit each year. Thanks to the dedication of my team, this summit happened.

And thanks to our attendees, it looks like we have enough buy-in to run another year. By introducing this event to campus with my co-director, Lexi Jackson, BSBA ‘20, we’re both able to move our passions forward, guiding others to work together to improve their communities, and showing students their identities can be reflected in professional spaces.

Pictured above: Judi McLean Parks, associate dean of diversity and inclusion, WashU Olin; Jo Pang, people partner, Slalom Consulting; Adewale Soluade, director of diversity and inclusion, Centene Corporation; Cheryl Watkins Moore, director and lead of the Bioscience Entrepreneurial & Workforce Inclusion Initiative, BioSTL; Valerie Patton, senior vice president of inclusion and talent attraction and executive director, St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative.

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