By Skills

The American Higher Education system is often hailed as the great equalizer, an important vehicle for upward social and economic mobility, wealth generation, and access to leadership positions. However, historically, certain groups have struggled to fully participate in higher education. 

The current focus on diversity is not just a call for access, equity, and inclusion. It is a movement to strengthen systems and institutions by incorporating inclusive strategies to ensure their services, products, and investments are more applicable to broader populations and growing markets. In developing future leaders who can thrive within the growing global economy, students and their families need to be intentional in how they evaluate diversity at prospective colleges and universities and, more importantly, how they incorporate diversity in their own education and career planning.  

The smash-hit Hamilton led the charge in diversifying role opportunities for performers of color on Broadway. In the number, “The Room Where it Happens” Hamilton underscores the importance of securing a seat at the table, especially when key decisions are being discussed. In considering college education — students are working to gain access to classrooms where they will gain the knowledge, skills, and connections necessary to succeed in the workforce.

Let’s consider, for example, a high school student who is seeking to major in economics with a career goal of working in finance. If this student aims to earn an MBA and become a leader in their field, they gain a competitive edge by attending a college or university where they will be challenged to work with students and faculty from different backgrounds. A student who understands how differences in culture, politics, and religion impact supply and demand will be better equipped to create more impactful solutions. As reported by the World Economic Forum, the business case for diversity is clear, companies with more diverse management teams tend to outperform more homogeneous competitors. Ultimately, learning how to appreciate the rich diversity of our global community will not only benefit the economy, it will quite literally enrich your educational experience and help you make a more important contribution in your own career.

While studying abroad is a great option for developing a global perspective, there are other ways for students to expand their cultural literacy. Being in an environment where diversity is interwoven with intellectual pursuits and academic growth, provides opportunities for professional development.

Here are some ways to incorporate diversity into your college planning process and career development:

Like any other skill, becoming culturally competent in new environments, including the classroom, social enterprises, emerging markets, etc., requires intentionality. Acquiring multiple cultural perspectives, and building on our own, we gain a multidimensional lens that lends itself to innovation, expansion, and social and market inclusivity. Cultural competency is no longer just optional. Rather it is a core requirement to becoming an effective contributor in personal, professional, and academic environments. Most importantly, it will help you navigate and appreciate the richness of our increasingly interconnected world.

This content was originally published here.

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