Diversity Roundtable to Be Held April 14

Inaugural Diversity Roundtable to focus on staff mentoring

In the past year, Georgia Tech has sponsored faculty- and student-led diversity forums, aimed at showcasing, attracting, and developing the tremendous diverse talent from across the Institute.

Diversity Roundtable
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Diversity Roundtable

On April 14, the Offices of the President, Academic Diversity and Human Resources will host an inaugural diversity roundtable luncheon focusing on the topic of mentoring for Tech staff members.

Two specific audiences are targeted for the event: senior staff members—pay grade 118 and above—and mid-level staffers specifically invited by a senior staff sponsor. “Managers who attend will be asked to invite someone from the middle range of classified staff to participate,” said Senior Director for Human Resources and Diversity Management Pearl Alexander. “The notion is that at the mid-level of our staff, we are very diverse. If we can identify and train this high potential talent, we can show what we sometimes forget: We have strong talent within our ranks—it is up to us to cultivate it.”

Alexander refers to Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, the first African-American woman to head an S&P 100 company, as an example. “She started there as an intern, and has a 30-year history with the company,” Alexander said. “Burns credits her success to people willing to mentor and sponsor her professionally within the organization.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with others and participate in discussions, as well as share their experiences either as a mentor or as one who benefited from mentoring. While Tech already has MentorTech, an established, formal mentoring program, this networking event will complement that program, according to Alexander.

“Bringing staff together in an informal setting is a mechanism for building community and fostering inclusiveness,” she said. “Through this roundtable activity, relationships may develop more naturally. Individuals who participate will benefit from peer mentoring and expanding their professional connections.”

President Bud Peterson will deliver the keynote address. Higher education and industry leaders will participate as facilitators in leading small group discussions. The activities will be moderated by James Godard, assistant director for Administration with the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences. Other participants include Provost Gary Schuster, newly appointed Executive Vice President for research Stephen Cross, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering Chair Gary May, Christopher Griffith with Stamps Health Services, Vice President for Campus Services Rosalind Meyers, Wayne Guthrie, vice chancellor for Human Resources with the Georgia Board of Regents, Tina Woodard, associate vice chancellor for Professional Development with the BOR, and many other leaders.

The event will direct discussion to the role of mentoring and career development and how best to mentor diverse individuals. “The purpose is to leave with ideas so attendees can approach people and engage with them in the process,” Alexander said. “It may not happen in a day, but this could be the spark for future connections.”

After the Roundtable, Academic Diversity and HR will partner to establish a Georgia Tech mentoring group on the LinkedIn Web site as an interactive way to virtually mentor throughout the coming year and keep up with the professional relationships established at the event. “The LinkedIn site will enable HR to track mentoring progress in conjunction with career development,” Alexander said. “We’ll also send a follow-up survey for participants.”

Registration will continue through April 9, or until capacity is reached. The roundtable will be held from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Global Learning Center.

The genesis for this roundtable springs from HR’s operational plans for this year, and the “Sustain and Enhance our Culture” strategic vision planning subcommittee, which is working on the Institute’s strategic vision for 2035. The subcommittee has discussed the need for Tech to be a thought leader in diversity and inclusion. Although directed toward senior staff, the Roundtable will include faculty involvement. The goal, Alexander says, is to have ongoing events that not only concentrate on certain populations, but also allow others to be involved.

While staff development and mentoring is a key aspect of the roundtable discussions, developing and showcasing the Institute’s rich diversity is the primary goal of the event. “If you want to attract the best talent, [the environment] has to be appealing,” Alexander said. “We can strengthen our diversity here, which is, in turn, a significant competitive advantage for us.”