Do Diversity Activities for College Students Matter to Employers?
December 13, 2022 • 5 min read
Companies are emphasizing the need to incorporate diversity training to create more equitable spaces for existing and potential employees. And while diversity training, in theory, is an excellent way to bridge the inequality gap, it doesn’t always go as planned. But nowadays, students who partake in diversity activities are paving the way for genuine change – and employers are taking notice when it comes to new hires.
Colleges are offering diversity activities to students for multiple reasons. The primary and most important reason is that the world is connected more than ever. Finding a position that doesn’t involve working with and interacting with people of all ages, races, cultures, and religions is difficult. To succeed in your career, you must learn how to navigate academic and professional spaces with equity.
Some activities that involve teaching students about diversity include:
- Participation in culture clubs and group activities with diverse students
- Dismantling stereotypes
- Professional equity training
- Analysis and perspective-taking
- Teaching students to tackle uncomfortable discussions
- Classroom activities and workshops
- Writing exercises
- Community volunteer work
- Heritage activities
Students working in spaces with diverse populations also receive specific training depending on their major. For example, social workers and therapists receive training to ensure they do not let their biases get in the way of helping underserved populations. Those who major in business know that their workplace is not a bubble, and they must interact with people from all backgrounds.
In theory, diversity training in the workplace aims to help people improve their relationships with others and decrease stereotypes. Unfortunately, if the training and exercises lack consistency and value, they do more harm than good. Sometimes diversity activities in the workplace exacerbate the issue further or signal to employees that the company has a problem and needs to train its workforce to “save face.”
However, when correctly administered and overseen, diversity activities are an enriching and valuable asset for employers and employees. They encourage inclusion and cohesion between employees, squash misconceptions, and decrease bias and favoritism in the workplace. Most importantly, they make people feel happy and at ease, boosting productivity and creating a company culture in which everyone is genuinely happy to participate.
Yes, diversity activities for college students matter to potential employers. However, you must also show that you learned from these activities and made positive changes. Diversity activities in college show that you care about learning about others and interacting with them respectfully and in a culturally-sensitive manner. This training goes a long way when you work with people from varying backgrounds.
Suppose you are a recent graduate and don’t know what to put on your resume. In that case, diversity activities help you attract interest and show enthusiasm. Ideally, these activities relate to your day-to-day responsibilities at your potential workplace. Adding diversity activities to your resume will likely generate interest and get your foot in the door.
When implemented correctly, diversity activities for college students does wonders for the workplace. In terms of the bottom line, employers seek opportunities to understand their clients better and attract new clients. For example, if you market to a predominantly Black or Middle Eastern market, knowing how to approach topics and relay ideas in a culturally sensitive manner boosts trust and sales.
Diversity training encourages creativity and innovation, enhances productivity, and decreases employee turnover. Moreover, employees from minority groups deserve equitable treatment and opportunities. By incorporating diversity activities that make a genuine difference, they have a better working environment, and microaggressions decrease.
Diversity activities enrich your experience by breaking down barriers, eliminating misconceptions and stereotypes, and forcing students to think of the bigger picture. Many people engage in activities they may not perceive as wrong, but they harm others even if there is no intent to cause harm.
For example, some colleagues at work may bring ethnic food and heat it in the microwave. People unused to strong-smelling food may make insensitive comments that can have racist undertones. Diversity activities may shed light on other people’s cuisines and help others be more culturally sensitive.
Another example is making statements about a person’s external appearance and not being sensitive to religious dress. Jewish men may wear yarmulkes, Muslim women may wear a hijab, and Sikh men may wear a turban. Making inappropriate comments about how they dress, even if unintentional, causes discord and tension between colleagues and may even lead to legal issues for the company.
Your employer wants to know what sets you apart from others, and diversity activities may be the one aspect that makes you unique. You can – and should – highlight your diversity activities and training at college to potential employers. If you included this in your resume, you can mention examples of how it helped you and brought value. Moreover, with this training under your belt, you have more leverage than other applicants who may not assume that these activities factor into their job application.
Always remember that your efforts and enthusiasm must be genuine. If you only do lip service about your dedication to diversity principles to secure a job, you set unrealistic expectations that soon crumble. This approach backfires in the long run, creating more problems over time and may even lead to resentment from peers and management.
Yes, you should include any diversity activities for college students in your resume. It is an excellent way to start a conversation with a potential employer. Moreover, it is sure to catch the eye of the hiring manager, especially if the company you are applying to values diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nowadays, more companies realize how valuable culturally sensitive employees are in their workforce and make deliberate efforts to add them to their companies.
A commitment to diversity isn’t just in a statement; it translates to fundamental and practical changes in the workplace. Fortunately, most major companies and large corporations are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of culturally sensitive employees. Although some companies only worry about potential lawsuits and their image, others genuinely do care about challenging societal norms and creating a healthy and diverse workplace. If you want to be part of such a company, you can search online for companies that “talk the talk and walk the walk.”
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