These high school students are shaping the future of diversity, equity and inclusion

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There is evidence that young people tend to be very open to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). For example, according to a 2020 survey by job website Monster, 83% of Gen Z job applicants say a company’s commitment to DEI is an important factor in choosing a job. employer. DEI’s appeal to young people is also evident in other contexts, such as preferences for mainstream brands, where 76% of Gen Z individuals surveyed and 72% of Millennials indicated that they consider DEI DEI as an important topic in their brand choices, compared to just 46% of baby boomers.

Expressing a preference and actually doing something don’t always go hand in hand, so it’s not unreasonable to take these indicators with a grain of salt. However, I recently had the pleasure of meeting a number of young people who have undertaken activities that promote greater diversity, equity and inclusion for other young people preparing for their careers. Among these, three initiatives in particular stood out.

Eileen Ye and Mahmoud Abdellatif are respectively president and vice president of the Junior Economic Club of New York, a student-run organization that aims to educate and motivate future leaders. Founded in 2020 during the pandemic to teach high school students how to become the leaders of tomorrow, the Junior Economic Club of New York is a living demonstration of how DEI can fit into the very fiber of an organization without making a big deal out of it. story. on this: while their website has no explicit commitments to DEI, their activities are designed to be inclusive and to represent diverse individuals and viewpoints, while engaging for the good of society. The diversity of their board members speaks louder than any DEI statement. In Ye’s own words, “It’s amazing how, with a focus on diversity when creating our first leadership council, DEI has covered all facets, from members to speakers and even topics. webinars, and has become a core value of our organization.”

Shreya Anand, a student at Los Altos High School in California, is the creator and host of All About Her, a YouTube channel featuring interviews with women in STEM careers. During her freshman year of high school, Anand had noticed that many of her friends stayed away from STEM classes and realized that even though she had been raised to think she could do anything, many of his peers didn’t have that stuff. Support. She thought interviewing some role models and sharing the interviews could provide guidance for herself and her peers, and it could show young women that they weren’t alone. After doing an interview, Anand decided to seek out more people, and All About Her quickly grew to include an impressive list of women working in a variety of STEM roles, including Dr. Carla Cotwright-Williams, a mathematician who is technical director. at the US Department of Defense, Maria Chavez, president of BioCurious, Professor Erica Graham, who teaches mathematics at Bryn Mawr College, and Shannon Hateley, a computational biologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. In Anand’s own words, “I started my podcast, All About Her, for two main reasons: first, to help myself and others discover new careers and opportunities by listening to successful women in these fields, and second, to create a community for other underrepresented people who are also interested in STEM to have the support they need to pursue their dreams.

Ymorah Blakeney is the founder and director of Black Girls Talk (BGT), a social enterprise that provides a safe space and developmental resources for young black girls aged 14-18. Now a graduate of Bard High School Early College in Queens, Blakeney founded Black Girls Talk as a club in 2018, after racially motivated incidents at her school made her realize that the low representation of black students at her school was causing that students like her felt isolated and potentially dangerous. With black female students making up only 6% of the student body, Blakeney said she started BGT because “I wanted to create a safe space for black female students, staff, and faculty to discuss issues within and outside our school that affected them and build brotherhood among us. Since then, BGT has expanded its programming, which includes two monthly meetings that provide community building, emotional support, and the opportunity to discuss issues that impact members, as well as a series of guest speakers featuring showcasing black women in STEM, business and activism. Blakeney, who is also a member of the Junior Economics Club of New York, is close to graduating from high school and an associate degree. She plans to continue working on BGT as she enters the University at Albany to pursue a degree in business administration this fall.

These young people are setting a shining example, not only to their peers, but to all of us. As future leaders, their actions today are a harbinger of a bright future for DEI in the workplace.

Disclaimer: The author was recently invited to join the advisory board of the Junior Economic Club of New York. The position does not involve any remuneration of any kind.

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