Part of Endicott’s innovative internship requirements is making sure Gulls are well prepared for the workforce. Last year, a new initiative added another layer to that preparation by helping students understand the impact of bias, stereotypes, and privilege in a professional setting.
A collaboration between Director of Belonging & Spiritual Life Rev. Gail Cantor, Dean of International Education Warren Jaferian, and Dean of the Internship & Career Center Dale McLennan, the program was dubbed DEI@Work and piloted in the spring of 2021.
This year, the Career Leadership Collective, a national organization devoted to promoting best practices in higher education career services, recognized DEI@Work in its 2022 Career Innovation Awards. Winning alongside institutions like Cal State Fullerton, New York University, and Santa Clara University means Endicott is in good company.
Finance major Maegan Howe ’24 said the course helped her learn new things about herself, and she expects it will open doors professionally.
“Taking this module has the potential to give me an advantage in the search for a job or internship because it shows that I am willing to have an open mind and work with anyone, no matter their background,” Howe said.
Given online via Canvas and self-paced, the non-credit, voluntary course is overseen by the Internship and Career Center and includes four modules: Identity; Culture; Stereotypes and Privilege; and Belonging. Digging into subjects like microaggressions, allyship, and implicit bias, the course takes about two hours to complete and is open to students, faculty, and staff.
Students have the additional option to complete “action steps” to earn a DEI@Work badge for their resume and LinkedIn profile.
“One of the things we’re hearing from employers is that some of them want you to ask questions during interviews about perspectives on DEIB,” said McLennan. “Others have been asking for students to write DEI statements on their own views as part of an application process. DEI@Work gives students the resources they need to dig into these topics a bit more to prepare.”
“Taking this module has the potential to give me an advantage in the search for a job or internship because it shows that I am willing to have an open mind and work with anyone, no matter their background,”—Maegan Howe '24.
“I think it’s a signal to an employer,” added Cantor. “It speaks not only to who our students are but also to Endicott’s intentions about what we’re working on with our students.”
In the spring of 2022, 53 students and 10 faculty enrolled in the course. When asked, 100% of the participants said they felt more prepared to work in a diverse workforce, and 97% said they would recommend it to others.
“We live in a diverse and multicultural world, that is increasingly interconnected. The concepts and learning DEI@Work exposes are fundamental to collaboration, understanding, and cooperation in the workplace, and will serve our students for a lifetime,” said Dean of International Education Warren Jaferian, who said that DEI@Work spawned the development of a corollary program within the Office of International Education.
“Each of us brings a perspective unique as a fingerprint and informed by culture, race, ethnicity, identity, class, and experiences. By understanding our own privilege and the disadvantage of others, we can foster a more effective and harmonious work environment.”
Business management major Alexia Bruno ’22 said the course is a good way to encourage people to make a change in their own environments.
“Sometimes I feel as though people know the negative aspects of the work environment in terms of equality, inclusion, and diversity, yet it is overlooked,” she said. “The DEI@Work program gave me a different perspective and encouraged me to be a part of a better and positive work environment, and I hope it can inspire others as well.”
McLennan and Cantor both agree that the primary benefit of the course is simply to expose students to concepts they may have not encountered or thought deeply about.
“I think it’s great to have the students consider how people get along in the workplace,” continued Cantor. “Through this course, we’re giving students not just credentials but also the consciousness that represents.”
Image caption: (Left to right) Rev. Gail Cantor, Director of Belonging & Spiritual Life; Dale McLennan, Dean of Internship & Career Center; and Warren Jaferian, Dean of International Education.