For many, the idea of increasing diversity in higher education to increase diversity in the workplace seems like the best course of action. While this is a good practice and should be encouraged, many overlook the fact that diversity in the workplace can actually increase diversity in higher education.
Understanding how crafting a more diverse workplace can impact the amount of diversity found in higher education institutions can give one a deeper and more nuanced understanding of how our world is evolving.
Here is how diversity in the workplace can encourage diversity in higher education.
Motivating More Diverse Individuals to Pursue Higher Education
When it comes to the history of diversity in colleges, many minorities and groups of people have suffered from a lack of inclusion and support. The ripples of these historical exclusions are still living on today and can be seen in the lack of diversity in the workplace in relation to the demographic makeup of the United States.
Given this disheartening history, many individuals from certain backgrounds feel unmotivated to pursue higher education because they don’t see a clear path for themselves in the workforce. However, increasing diversity in the workforce has the potential to inspire and motivate more individuals to pursue their educational careers and attend an institution of higher education.
When individuals from marginalized backgrounds see themselves represented in the workplace, they will feel more inclined to pursue a similar path. Conversely, the less diversity there is in the workplace, the less diverse individuals will feel inclined to pursue higher education.
This being the case, it’s clear that cultivating more diverse workplaces can have a significant impact on the diversity of students in higher education institutions.
Increasing Cultural Competency
While there are some more immediate ways that increasing diversity in the workforce can lead to more diversity in higher education, there are also some more far-reaching and lasting positive impacts that can come of it. One powerful effect of diversity in the workplace is an increased level of cultural competency in society.
Many of the adults in the workforce will go on to raise children and impart heir values and skills in them. Adults who work in more diverse workplaces will develop more keen cultural competency skills which they will then pass on to their children. Eventually, this will result in a greater number of students in higher education institutions with developed cultural competency skills and more respect for other cultures.
For those who identify as a part of a marginalized group, going to a higher education institution may seem daunting since it may be perceived as a place where many people harbour hostile attitudes toward those in other cultures.
An increase in young individuals with cultural competency skills can ultimately change how higher education institutions are perceived and more diverse individuals will feel comfortable, motivated, and inspired to pursue higher education.
More Diverse Mentors to Guide Young Individuals
For those who have set out on the difficult task of finding a mentor, it’s clear that the process of finding a guide of this nature can be difficult and confusing. When it comes to those from diverse backgrounds, this can be even more difficult as one may not have many people they see themselves in who are working in leadership positions.
By increasing the amount of diversity in the workforce, more diverse young individuals will feel compelled to seek out mentors to help guide them in life. Increased instances of diverse individuals mentoring other diverse individuals would likely result in more students from diverse backgrounds attending higher education institutions.
In addition to one-on-one mentorship programs, many professionals from diverse backgrounds will likely engage in initiatives and projects to help others from their backgrounds find success. Accordingly, the more diverse workplaces become, the more opportunities individuals from diverse backgrounds will have to find role models who encourage them to pursue higher education.
More Diverse Workplaces Will Set a Precedent for Organizations
Throughout the history of America, many organizations have had decade-long stints of having homogeneous workplaces with almost everyone coming from similar backgrounds. While this has changed over the years and workforces have become more diverse, many organizations still have homogeneous demographics when it comes to leadership and management.
The more diverse workplaces become, the more chances diverse individuals will have to move up the ranks and step into positions of leadership. Having more diverse individuals in positions of power will likely cause many diverse parents to feel compelled to encourage and support their children in the pursuit of higher education.
A change in perspectives of this nature can have a monumental impact on various communities and attitudes toward higher education. Whereas some marginalized groups may have felt that society deemed it unnecessary to pursue higher education, seeing others who represent themself in positions of leadership in an organization can alter perspectives and provide more support for individuals from diverse backgrounds to pursue higher education.
Diversity In the Workplace Can Transform Higher Education
While many focus on increasing diversity in higher education to promote more diversity in the workplace, changing workplaces can actually have a profound impact on the amount of diversity found in higher education institutions.
By having more diverse role models in the workforce, more diverse individuals will be compelled to pursue higher education, making higher education more diverse and robust. Though many initiatives have helped make higher education more diverse than it once was, there is still progress to be made.
However, by making workplaces more diverse, many individuals and organizations throughout the country can help address the problem and create more diverse educational institutions with an array of varying perspectives.