Professors express opinions on diversity in the workplace

Five MSUM professors voiced their opinions on the importance of diversity in the workplace during a panel discussion last Thursday in the CMU.

The content of the discussion centered on diversity and the professors’ perspectives on how to successfully respond to a diverse work environment. The panelists were from a range of departments including: psychology, speech language hearing sciences, business and women’s and gender studies.

Each panelist shared their experiences dealing with diversity. Speech, language and hearing sciences professor Richard Adler gave his opinion on the advantages of diversity in the workplace.

“If you think about if everybody was the same, would that be boring because you never learn anything new,” Adler said. “If you don’t look at diversity as the four federally recognized groups, if you look at diversity larger than that, everybody brings a whole lot of perspectives to the work place and you learn so much more.”

Professor Anita Bender from women’s studies also commented on this topic bringing into the discussion some conversations she’s had in her women studies classes.

“One of the things we talk about is by not having that diverse of a group; there is something that you’re also missing by the knowledge that those people bring and the difference they provide because of who they are,” Bender said. “There are things that have shifted when women are involved because of what they bring, so what’s the knowledge that we are missing by not having those people here.”

Some tension grew between professor Bender and Professor Ben Kuperman from the school of business when he didn’t agree with her statement.

“You can find the best talent at the individual level, regardless of who they are and work with, regardless of where they come from,” Kuperman said.

Bender rebutted that she believed gender and other experiences do make a difference, also touching on that fact there is a lack of equal access for certain people.

When the floor was opened for questions, students questioned the panelists’ varying opinions and the controversy over the prejudices that circulate through the work place.

Professor A Dalhouse from the psychology department touched on the history of diversity in the United States, as well as at MSUM, commenting that there were more women and ethnic diversity in his department now than when he first started.

“When I came here first there was more diversity then there is now, there were eleven African American faculty members, I don’t think there is more than five or six now,” Dalhouse commented.

Many questions from students centered on the importance of diversity not only in the work place but on campus as well. One student commented that campus wasn’t diverse enough while others wanted to know what diversity meant to each panelist. Many of the students felt that there was a lack of cultural knowledge and wanted to know how it could be improved.

Each panelist had their own opinions that ranged from more information opportunities on campus to how they provide culture awareness in their classrooms. This event was put together by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. For more information on events and diversity, you can visit their homepage at http://www.mnstate.edu/diversity/.

BY JANAE BOSWELL
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