L’Oréal USA, American Conference on Diversity Host ‘Reflections on Diversity’ Event By Lenore Pearlstein
The American Conference on Diversity and L’Oréal USA recently hosted, “Reflections on Diversity: Defining Moments,” an event for diversity and inclusion professionals in the fields of higher education, corporations, and nonprofits, as well as diversity consultants and practitioners.
The program was part of the 65th anniversary celebration of the American Conference on Diversity (ACD), a nonprofit organization that promotes diversity initiatives and programs throughout New Jersey to foster inclusion, respect, and understanding. Featured speakers included Angela Guy, senior vice president of diversity and inclusion at L’Oréal USA; Elizabeth Williams-Riley, president and CEO of the American Conference on Diversity; Patrick McKay, PhD, professor of human resource management and chair of the Human Resource Management department in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University; Betsy Garlatti, chief of staff for Rochelle Hendricks, New Jersey’s first secretary of state in the Department of Higher Education; and Lenore Pearlstein and Holly Mendelson, co-publishers of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
Garlatti talked about many of the programs and initiatives the state is involved in to help underserved populations, and the importance of college affordability and degree completion.
One such program is the Access to Success Project, which aims to work collaboratively with colleges to reduce achievement gaps by 50 percent over the next seven years. The goal is to give students the help they need to complete college on time at the lowest possible cost. The program will offer tutoring, mentoring, and outreach services.
“We remain committed to the ideal that all students deserve access to a high-quality higher education. But it is not good enough anymore to merely help students enroll in colleges. We must help them complete their studies and attain their degrees,” Garlatti said.
New Jersey also has received a federal College Access Challenge Grant. One of the programs the grant will fund helps the higher education agency to identify students who left college when they were close to earning their degree, and to develop a path for reentry and degree completion. Rider University has an especially effective program, Garlatti said.
Aim High Academy, another program under this grant, features a three-week summer program taught by college faculty, for high school seniors. The programs described by Garlatti work to improve access to higher education for students from economically challenged backgrounds to give them an equal chance for life-changing higher education opportunities.
L’Oréal’s Angela Guy spoke about the changing population: “Our mission is to provide the best of beauty for all because we truly believe that diversity within L’Oréal is a business imperative. When we look at growth, we’re excited about the demographic changes in the marketplace.” She also compared the values espoused by the four generations who are now colleagues in the workplace.
McKay, of Rutgers University, presented the business case for diversity. Based on his research, McKay outlined sales trends for a Fortune 500 company where some stores hired minority salespeople as compared with others that did not. The results were profound and evident. For example, his charts showed incremental increases in annual sales for each salesperson in stores where the sales force is diverse. Multiply that number by hundreds of salespeople throughout the company and the revenue increases become substantial—clearly making the case for diversity.
Finally, Williams-Riley asked all the members of the audience to reflect on the moment in their lives that brought them to where they are today in their careers. “Our differences,” she said, “intersect in our workplaces and influence the relationships we have with our colleagues and constituents, creating defining moments in diversity.”●
Lenore Pearlstein is co-publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The American Conference on Diversity is a partner organization of INSIGHT Into Diversity. Published in our July/August 2013 issue.