More than 90 members of the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics community celebrated the unveiling of the Lerner Diversity Council (LDC) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Action Promise Wall on Oct. 12. The DEI Action Promise Wall, located in Alfred Lerner Hall, displays the names of the members of the Lerner College who promise to actively make the Lerner environment one that strives for growth and success for all individuals.
“I am thrilled to be here today to celebrate this amazing accomplishment and am inspired by how our community has come together to create the LDC DEI Action Promise and the Wall,” said Assistant Professor of Marketing Anu Sivaraman, acting chair of the LDC, in her opening remarks. Sivaraman is overseeing the LDC initiatives for Jennifer Joe, Whitney Family Professor of Accounting, Cohen Family Director of Diversity and Chief Diversity Advocate who is on sabbatical.
The LDC DEI Action Promise and the Wall were two years in the making. The idea for the DEI Action Promise was driven by Lerner College alum Kyle Natter, who earned a bachelor of science in finance and international business in 2022.
While a student in 2020, Natter approached Lerner Dean Bruce Weber and Joe about creating a community statement and action plan that would articulate Lerner College’s response to race-related riots, social injustice and inequities that continued to occur in business and in the world.
That year, the LDC took a first step by spearheading four hour-long listening sessions within the Lerner College inviting staff, students, faculty and alumni to participate. Instances of past inequitable treatment and microaggressions that were shared by undergraduate and graduate students and alumni got to the heart of where the Lerner College has fallen short in supporting underrepresented minority communities and suggested how to work to make long-lasting improvements.
“What I am most proud of is that the LDC DEI Action Promise statement was created with input from the full Lerner College community: alumni, students, faculty and staff,” Weber said. “It was humbling to hear the horrendous experiences that too many underrepresented members of our community endured.
“Our community came together to listen and acknowledge shortcomings and harm done when individuals were treated differently and not made to feel included,” he continued. “The LDC developed this promise in response and I believe it is transformative and powerful. It is a personal promise that will extend beyond the University of Delaware and the Lerner College into our communities’ professional and personal lives.”
“While these are just words strung together, it’s what we do with those words that matters,” Natter said in his remarks during the ceremony. He encouraged those in attendance to “live the promise and incorporate these ideas and actions into your day to day personal and professional lives.” Natter will continue to serve as a member of the LDC and carries his DEI work forward at JP Morgan Chase as a member of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion taskforce.
During the unveiling event, Weber shared statistics that highlighted the inequities in business today for the Black and brown communities and how UD, Lerner and its students can do better:
Specifically for Black Americans:
- 12.3 percent of US Labor Force and 10 percent of college degree holders (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data)
- 7.2 percent of the professional and managerial workforce (BLS)
- 3.2 percent of senior executive positions (Center for Talent Innovation, 2019)
- CEOs of six Fortune 500 firms (1.2%)
LDC Steering Committee members were also in attendance, including Clayton Rowe ‘11, who earned bachelor of science degrees in finance and international business.
Members of UD and Lerner are encouraged to sign the LDC DEI Action Promise, which states the following:
The Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics is committed to the University of Delaware’s core values of social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). As members of Lerner College, we dedicate ourselves to continuously improving our community and to encourage awareness, advocacy and action.
At Lerner, we embrace the opportunity to understand and appreciate both the shared and unique backgrounds and talents that all of us offer – students, staff, faculty, alumni and community. Our aim is to foster diversity, equity and inclusion throughout all aspects of life at Lerner and beyond.
These values must be upheld not only during our time at UD, but throughout our professional careers and in our personal lives. To create this inclusive environment, we are committed to creating connections and fostering dialogues across our communities.
Through specific and determined efforts, we will achieve a higher standard of diversity, equity and inclusion; one of which everyone can be proud.
The LDC, formed in 2016, is a student-staff-faculty-alumni group guiding the College’s equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. It advocates for a culture that celebrates the shared and unique attributes of all members of the Lerner community. This is achieved through various activities on equity, diversity and inclusion topics and opportunities.The LDC selected three core principles from UD’s Diversity Action Plan to focus within Lerner.
“The LDC ensures that the Lerner College and everything that happens in it reflects our values and instills a sense of belonging,” Weber continued. “Cultivating diversity and building an inclusive community are key elements of the Lerner mission statement.”
The LDC was a 2022 recipient of the AACSB – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – Innovations that Inspire. This annual program recognizes institutions from around the world that serve as champions of change in the business education landscape. In 2022, the highlights feature efforts to elevate diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB).
“UD’s educational mission is to offer learning experiences that prepare our students to live in an
increasingly diverse and global world,” Joe said. “Inclusiveness and diversity among our students, faculty, and staff are central to that mission. The LDC provides the Lerner community the opportunity to understand and appreciate both the shared and unique background and talents of its community.”