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Local conference spotlights diversity and inclusion in business

University of North Carolina, Wilmington

UNC Wilmington recently hosted an all-day conference called Diversity: A Competitive Advantage to talk about the impact of inclusion in businesses.  Panelists who explored The Business Case for Diversity say that hiring diverse workers isn’t enough if there’s not inclusion as well.

Diversity means there are many people with varied backgrounds within an organization, but inclusion means that those differences are embraced.  That’s according to Brian Richards, coordinator for the Carolinas Diversity Council. When Richards meets with a company that might become a corporate partner, he says that he’ll often point out that their senior leadership doesn’t have people of color, women or members of other countries.

“And usually, they kind of have some sort of a general way of saying, so we need to hire a person of color. Well, okay that’s reactionary. Just because you hire someone doesn’t mean that you’re getting all that you can out of them.”

In North Carolina, Richards says that there are several companies that have inclusion plans for their organization that include hiring, trainings, affinity groups and community engagement. According to Richards, these efforts can help innovation, productivity and customer image.

Jessica is a junior at UNCW pursuing a B.A. in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She worked on an audio project similar to NPR's StoryCorps over the summer where she interviewed mentors and their mentees on the UNCW campus. This project inspired her to work more with public radio and the media. She is also a contributing writer for the school's newspaper, The Seahawk. Jessica loves her job as a resident assistant, trying out new restaurants, working out so she can keep eating at new restaurants, and bringing news to the community.