“The first step towards more diversity.”
This is how University of Delaware sophomore Esteban Delgado described his support for efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion, such as the first-ever lunch and learn to be hosted by the Lerner Diversity Council (LDC) in UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.
The lunch was sponsored by PwC, and it featured two main speakers: Zahra Safa, senior associate in the PwC talent acquisition team in Philadelphia who recruits students at UD, and market diversity leader Kimberly Tiedeken.
Delgado, a sophomore accounting, finance, and MIS triple-major at the University, said he has been hoping to see more diversity at UD and is glad to see an emergence of events like the LDC Lunch and Learn series.
“I had never been to a diversity event here,” Delgado said. “I thought this event was really good.”
Tiedeken opened the event by saying, “I want to introduce you to blind spots, which some people call unconscious bias.
“Blind spots aren’t necessarily bad,” she said. “Using the past experiences that you have is really helpful in navigating the world. When we think about blind spots, recognize that they really do touch everything.”
Tiedeken went on to explain what she calls the “7/11 rule,” meaning that in the first seven seconds of meeting someone, people will typically make 11 assumptions about them. She explained that these assumptions are not automatically horrible, but they can be detrimental because they can alienate the person being “seven elevened.”
“The more experiences you have, you start to become aware of different reasons that people may do things, which helps you understand people more,” Tiedeken said. “That’s really why we challenge our blind spots. And frankly, that’s why we look for diversity.”
By thinking differently about diversity, Tiedeken said, everyone is able to come up with more solutions and be more innovative in the professional world.
Jazzlyn Jefferson, a sophomore operations management and marketing double major and a member of the LDC, said the new lunch series was enlightening.
“There was a lot of information about perceptions and blind spots which I had never thought about before,” Jefferson said. “I think it was really informative.”
“We all have blind spots,” Safa said. “Every single one of us has blind spots. It’s really up to you to be aware, to say, ‘This is my blind spot’ and ‘How can I change this?’”
Safa encouraged the audience to ask questions of people who are different from themselves. She said as long as this is done respectfully, this can eliminate blind spots and biases on both sides. Safa’s final advice was for audience members to keep working on being inclusive and eliminating blind spots.
“Make sure that you continue going to these events,” Safa said, “and make sure you’re going outside of your comfort zone.”