Needless to say, 2020 put a glaring spotlight on the many crises affecting our country. And while the COVID-19 pandemic stole the headlines for much of the first-half of last year, it was the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many other Black Americans that changed the conversation.
Black Lives Matter. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Implicit Bias.
No longer buzzwords. No longer corporate jargon. But steps toward a more equitable playing field—including in our own educational backyard.
And for many, we looked toward our leadership to answer the call for equity. Here at Extension, we are uncovering ways to ensure that our workforce, our students, our instructors reflect the diverse community of which we are so proud to be part.
“Racial injustice has always been, and along the way there has been some reflection and some significant and insignificant actions and progress,” our Dean, Diana Wu, recently said at a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion seminar event. “But this year has presented us with a real opportunity for change. And as our staff engages in discussions of racial justice, leaders are seizing this moment to consider our roles and opportunities to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within our organizations.
“In my role, I may ask myself, what is UC Berkeley Extension and Berkeley Global here for and what are we responsible for? Ultimately, we are here to help create access and opportunity to education, to jobs, to bettering our lives. But we can be truly successful and effective only if we can achieve diversity, equity and inclusion. We have a serious responsibility to our students, to our partners, to our regional and global community to teach about this and to emphasize its importance.”
So what does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you as a professional? Why do these truths matter?
Why It Matters
To answer this, I turn to Anika Balkan, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at OpenTable and KAYAK.
Anika was our first guest speaker in our recently launched Leaders in Diversity and Inclusion Speaker Series.
“We are having a lot of conversations right now with our Black employees and our employees of color who are really concerned. We've seen increased violence toward the Black community. We are having these experiences where somebody would say, ‘How was your weekend? I hope it was great,’ and that's really not the experience that someone is living. And so it's really hard to come into work and see all of this play out on television or on social media and feel comfortable and feel that you can just bring your authentic self to work.
“Diversity and inclusion is the future of business. It's how we're going to build a market. It's how we're going to take care of our employees. If you're headed into finance, tech, business development, you name it, it's a good time to think about how you can personally translate D&I work into your core job. If you can come in and sell yourself as somebody who understands that and who is thinking about doing core work every day with this in mind, I think that will serve your business very, very well in the long term. I think that will be a valuable asset to any company. And if you can think about how your own company’s values translate into your work, that will really set you apart.”
“Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace is super-important because you get the best of cultural and team interactions. Project management practitioners have had to really adapt to leading and manifesting global organizations and teams. They need an understanding of how to work in diverse cultures. Learning how to do your work in a global workforce is key.”
—Project Management instructor Anoop Grover
Celebrating Our Black Community
We are proud of a diverse community of learners and educators who bring their own perspectives and experiences to our global community. In honor of Black History Month, we’d like to put a special spotlight on our Black instructors and graduates.
Graduate Adrian Morris, Personal Financial Planning
“Don’t be discouraged because you don’t see yourself amongst the program. Take that as an opportunity to empower yourself and then go and empower the community or the community you are from.” Read more about Adrian.
Graduate Toby Atawo, Project Management
“I took my classes online, and there were a few classmates who were also international. I learned a lot from my peers: Many were at the same point in their career as I was. Their experiences helped to nail down the theory we were processing. It also opened my eyes to many other industries and how they applied their project management framework to their projects.” Read more about Toby.
Instructor Sylvia Gayle, Biology of Human Cancer Course
“Teaching at Extension allows me to bridge my own academic and research experience with those who are also interested in understanding—at a molecular level—the biology of cancer. In addition, teaching an online course allows me to interact with and educate a diverse group of students across the country. Every module includes riveting discussion questions that increase discussion among classmates on topics that extend beyond what the textbook offers.” Read more from Sylvia.
Graduate Suzette Nubie, Regulatory Affairs
“Professionally, having this certificate on my résumé looks great and is definitely value-added to my industry. Personally, I have accomplished a goal while working full time, which is huge! To take the time—primarily on Saturdays—and complete the work is fulfilling. My long-term goal is to transition to regulatory affairs one day, and this is the first step.” Read more about Suzette.
Graduate John Edwards, LCSW
John Edwards, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and graduate of the Professional Program in Eating and Weight Disorders. He currently has his own private practice. Enrolling in the program, he wanted to work more closely with the LGBT community and bring his perspective as a gay man to help tackle these issues. "I wanted to get more specific training. As a direct result of the program, I feel more competent." Read John’s story.
Black Girls CODE Event
We recently joining up with Black Girls CODE and Black Scientists Matter for a conversation with influential women in science as they discuss the paths, education, and rewards and challenges of pursuing careers in science.
Video of the Event
Attend Upcoming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Online Events
February 16: Conversation With Shareka Nelson, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Coursera
March 16: Conversation With Nichelle Grant, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Siemens
April 20: Conversation With LaDavia Drane, Head of Global Inclusion, Diversity and Equity at Amazon Web Services