Recent events have brought a new light to the DEI efforts the University has undertaken over the last few years. In response to the university town hall entitled Constructive Conversations for Societal Change, the Shared Services Center held two debrief sessions to help foster constructive communication between staff members.
The SSC’s DEI task force put together these Zoom sessions as a safe space to share thoughts and feelings among co-workers. These conversations continued to foster an inclusive culture by providing staff with opportunities to connect while they are still working from home. Rashid Abdur-Rahim, a member of the DEI task force, moderated these sessions. He shared that they are, “encouraging each other to seek understanding from their coworkers.”
One of the key factors to the success of the sessions was leadership support and participation. Every manager at the SSC attended one of the sessions, demonstrating the importance of having these difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations.
Within these sessions, staff also generated a wide range of ideas for further DEI-related actions. Some of the suggestions include DEI events such as book clubs, movie discussions, and more debrief sessions. Some staff also indicated they will continue to make an effort to visit black-owned businesses or cultural centers. Abdur-Rahim went on to say, “[We aim] to have meaningful and educational discussions in which everyone feels free to explain, not defend, their ideas and ideals.”