In September, the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University celebrated students, faculty, and staff during the fifth annual Rawls Diversity Symposium and Rawls Day. Both events focused on diversity and inclusion with their theme, "Where You Belong."
Rawls alumnus, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. and president of Wendy Mas Consulting, Wendy Masiello, opened the Rawls Diversity Symposium on the evening of Sept. 11 with a keynote address summarizing how diversity and inclusion impacted her career. Masiello encouraged attendees to not only recognize the unique characteristics of others but to also welcome and value the contributions of all.
"Diversity is good, but for me, inclusion was the game-changer," she said.
Masiello also challenged the audience to be the voice for those who are not heard. "Diversity is a statistic and inclusion is a behavior," she said.
Following Masiello's keynote, a group of student panelists representing various student organizations answered questions regarding their personal experiences relating to diversity and inclusion at Texas Tech and Rawls College. The student leaders encouraged organizations to work together and advocated for all students to be allies of underrepresented groups on campus. When asked how students, faculty, and staff could better contribute to the positive efforts of diversity and inclusion within the college, panelists encouraged individuals to recognize their personal, unintentional bias and to step out of their comfort zones, be patient, and listen.
During the second night of the symposium, Sept. 12, a group of forward-thinking company representatives shared their views of diversity in the workplace. Employees from Grant Thornton, Pioneer Natural Resources, Edward Jones, GEICO, Enterprise Holdings, DHL Supply Chain and Southwest Airlines provided insight surrounding the roles both diversity and inclusion play in business.
"Having a strong diversity and inclusion strategy helps us ensure that we are able to attract and retain the best talent, drives us to be more innovative, and ensures that our employees are able to be fully engaged in the work they do every day," said Senior HR Director for DHL Supply Chain, Meredith Singletary.
"Having the opportunity to participate in the Diversity Symposium was so insightful to us," said Singletary. "We learned what is on the hearts and minds of the next generation, and we saw that other employers are doing similar work and facing similar challenges that we see every day."
On the following day, Sept. 13, more than 25 student organizations and resource offices gathered on the back patio of Rawls College to celebrate Rawls Day. During the event, students were able to visit different organizations to learn more about becoming involved.
"It was great to see the college so lively," said senior marketing and management major Bailey Anderson. "I enjoyed going to different booths to see friends and ended up joining Women in Business."
As part of this year's "Where You Belong" theme, Rawls Day also included several interactive activities for students to express their unique place within the Rawls community. A custom-built Double T was decorated with ribbon, in which students wrote the names of those who helped them get to Rawls College. More than 150 pieces of ribbon were entwined within the Double T, with several pieces listing parents, siblings, and friends as those who impacted their journey to Rawls College.
Other activities included a large map for students to place a pin on their home town/country and postcards for students to send to family and friends. More than 350 pins were placed on the map, many of which were in other countries, and approximately 85 postcards were mailed by the college. Additionally, 1,000 t-shirts were given away to students to help them commemorate the day.
The week concluded with a town hall meeting where an overview of the diversity and inclusion climate within Rawls College was provided by Kirsten Cook and Andrea Romi, associate professors of accounting and co-directors of the Rawls Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Attendees reviewed the results of the climate survey conducted in spring 2019. During the meeting, Dean Margaret L. Williams said the college is working with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to develop a plan to address points raised in the survey and ensure Rawls College is a welcoming and affirming environment for all students, staff, and faculty.