New Online Resource Offers Identity-Based Career Support
Many organizations have made concerted efforts to diversify their workforces in recent years, as well as create a more inclusive environment for employees of varying backgrounds and cultural identities. At the same time, students and alumni are seeking increased support and access opportunities. Employers, employees and job seekers now have a new resource in CO-OPS + CAREERS’ Work + Identity.
Launched last week, the site provides information and links relevant to BIPOC students, DACA and undocumented students, first-generation students, international students, queer students, race in the workplace, religious students, students with disabilities, veterans and military service members, and women.
According to Robbin Beauchamp, director of Wentworth Institute of Technology’s CO-OPS + CAREERS, Work + Identity “aligns with Wentworth’s Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan initiative and its mission to ensure every member of the university community feels included, engaged with, and valued.”
Work + Identity is the brainchild of Abbey Pober, assistant director for CO-OPS AND CAREERS. We asked her about the site, why diversity benefits an organization and where she believes the entire nation must go to be more inclusive.
Wentworth: How does a diverse workforce benefit an organization?
Abbey Pober: The benefits of a diverse workforce are unparalleled. First and foremost, hiring folks from different identity groups and backgrounds means you have a variety of perspectives to solve problems and provide valuable insights, which can resonate with customers and improve the quality of the customer experience. People from various identity groups bring their life experiences to the team, which positively impacts the whole team, the organization, and the customer base.
At the same time, a diverse team has a better chance of identifying potentially problematic initiatives or messaging. In short, diverse teams are strong and effective.
Wentworth: Why is this a project that you are particularly passionate about?
Abbey Pober: I believe our community is stronger when we make space for everyone to feel included and thrive. Wentworth students deserve to celebrate their identities and have easy access to the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions about their careers and build communities of support. Work is often a huge part of someone’s life, but unfortunately it is all too often not an equitable experience, especially for those from historically underrepresented communities.
It is critical we acknowledge the specific challenges folks face because if we do not talk about it, it is too easy to ignore. We have a duty to shed light on the disparities that exist and to arm our students and the Wentworth community with the information needed to advocate for themselves and their colleagues. Work + Identity is just the beginning and will serve as a foundation on which we can build programming and tools that support students and alumni, address real identity-based issues and educate the community.
Wentworth: There is a plethora of great information here. How long did this project take to come together?
Abbey Pober: It was a full team effort, and the bulk of the work took place over six months, starting this past April. After benchmarking our peers, conducting initial research, and developing a general content outline, each member of the team took on the work of building out the content for one identity, which included conducting research and writing the content you see on the pages today.
Wentworth: Do you see the site geared more toward students or employers? Or both?
Abbey Pober: Initially we envisioned Work + Identity as a space for students and alumni to find tools, resources and support relevant to their experience and career. However, as the project came together, we quickly realized these pages would benefit our employer partners and the entire Wentworth community. Work + Identity is a space for anyone at any stage of their career who is seeking identity-based support or looking to be a better ally in the workplace.
Wentworth: How close do you think Americans are in general to adopting these types of credos and understanding of diverse groups?
Abbey Pober: Candidly, I think Americans have a long way to go. I am hopeful that we are headed in the right direction in light of the momentum building in support for the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd. However, we cannot sit back and stay quiet, and that piece is critical for making real change. The only way we will achieve an inclusive and equal society is if we face the reality that systemic racism and oppression have been holding people back for centuries and do the work to address the disparities that exist. The best way to do that is to seek information and act on the knowledge you gain to work towards equity for all.
Wentworth: Where do you see the future of Wentworth and its commitment to Inclusive Excellence in relation to the student experience and building bridges to career success?
Robbin Beauchamp, CO-OPS + CAREERS Director: We see Work + Identity as a foundation from which CO-OPS + CAREERS and Wentworth can build bridges to career success. In the future we see programming geared toward addressing specific identity-based questions and concerns. We are committed to bringing in employers who have been recognized as “the best places to work” for a specific identity group to join us virtually with students, faculty and staff to hear their best practices. We can all learn from each other while our students meet employers who want them to join their workplace.
We will also begin dedicating time during future CO-OP + CAREER Fairs to identity groups to provide targeted access. CO-OPS + CAREERS regularly partners with the Center for Diversity and Social Justice and we are thrilled that there is a new division dedicated to Inclusive Excellence. This expands our capabilities to collaborate within the Institute with our peers to do more comprehensive programming.
We are also exploring partnerships with Admissions to help increase the diversity of our student population. Our office has made progress is assisting our neurodiverse students by partnering with the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Aspire program. It is time for us to begin looking at partnerships with other non-profits to provide extra support and access opportunities to students with various identities.