Workplace diversity and career development

On March 3, the Office of Diversity and Engagement, the Business Career Center of the Collins College of Business and ConocoPhillips co-hosted Diversity in the Workplace. This event gave students an opportunity to think and talk about diversity and inclusion within the career development process. Participating students came from many different undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as law. Several faculty and staff also took part, as well as some students and staff from Tulsa Community College.

“One of the reasons I wanted to have this event was to gather students, employers/organizations, faculty and staff together to discuss diversity and inclusion as it relates to outcomes for students,” said Leonelle Thompson, director of the Business Career Center. “Many times, students seek career guidance outside of the career services offices and it is crucial that faculty and staff are equipped with the knowledge employers have. It is also important that employers, faculty and staff understand the types of questions/concerns students have in regards to transitioning to the workplace. I think we do a great job of helping students while they are in school, but the transition to the workplace can be extremely difficult.”

A large group of TU students and employers standing in front of a screenPlanning for Diversity in the Workplace began in fall 2019, and community partners were identified based on their diversity and inclusion efforts. One unexpected result of inviting certain partners, noted Thompson, was that they also began to invite others. This resulted in 27 representatives – including seven TU alumni – participating, including ConocoPhillips, Capital Advisors, ONEGas, Williams, TEKSystems, Workforce Tulsa, Eide Bailly, Union Public Schools, Teach for America, GableGotwals, Verizon, Koch Industries, Grant Thornton, Tenstreet, Deloitte, Vernon, OKC Thunder, Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores and Northwestern Mutual.

The representatives were assigned to various topics, including the following:

  • How to bring one’s authentic self to the workplace
  • How to communicate with different generations in the workplace
  • How to ask for accommodations for an interview
  • Whether a person should disclose anything on a résumé that identifies their unique identity.

Tom Vincent of the law firm GableGotwals provided an introduction by explaining that everyone has a “diversity story.” He then shared two examples – one professional and one personal.

Dozens of people seated at round tables during the Workplace Diversity meetingFollowing Vincent’s opening remarks, participants rotated every 20 minutes to a new table. “Many partners commented on how impressive our students are and how excited they were to have been part of the event,” Thompson remarked. “Many didn’t realize that students had so many questions about diversity and inclusion. The students, meanwhile, commented how great it was to talk about the issues in a relaxed setting and get to network at the same time.”