and staff selected hors d'oeuvres, originating from a
variety of cultural backgrounds, at the Diversity Dinner.
YOU WANT TO SUCCEED in business, understanding diversity
issues is a must, says Dorothy Simpson-Taylor, director,
University Resource Office, during her diversity workshop
presentation April 4.
undergraduate School of Management Council (SMC) hosted
the workshop, which was paired with a dinner celebrating
the foods of different cultures. Entrees at the dinner
included baba ghannouj with pita tria, bruschetta with
hummus, chicken satay, and buffalo wings. Around 80 people,
including graduates, undergraduates, faculty, and staff,
the dinner, participants attended the workshop, titled "Bridging
Cultural Barriers," led by Simpson-Taylor and Rachelle
Edwards, a third-year graduate student in clinical psychology.
Participants learned about cultural differences through
role-playing and interacting with each other as teams.
In one exercise, each team had its own specific cultural
behavior to perform while interacting with the other
people in the workshop. The other teams weren't allowed
to know each other's behavioral guidelines beforehand.
The cultural guidelines presented
interesting problems. One team, prohibited from responding
to any remark until seven seconds had passed, found it
virtually impossible to get people to wait for them to
talk. Another team had to offer everyone a cookie, and
to anyone who refused to take one. This posed a problem
when encountering another team, who couldn't say no but
was not allowed to eat or drink anything offered to them.
After the dinner, Dorothy Simpson-Taylor, director of Purdue's
Diversity Resource Office, directed the Diversity Workshop,
which was held in the Krannert
the groups interacted based on their sets of rules, Simpson-Taylor
explained the reason for the exercise. "Each team's guidelines
have a cultural significance," she said. For instance,
in many cultures, it is polite to offer every guest food
or drink. "That's a part of African American households," Simpson-Taylor
said. "My grandmother always offers people food. If they
say no, she thinks there's got to be something wrong
with them." And the seven-second rule? Because some cultures
are more reflective, their people consider it rude, brash,
and unthinking to respond to questions or remarks too
you aren't aware of the differences in people, you won't
be able to deal with them effectively," Simpson-Taylor
said. "You've got to be ready to give up a piece of who
you are to accommodate someone else."
overviewed diversity programs at some of the top employers
of Purdue students and explained why it is necessary
for students to understand that diversity is an important
issue in the corporate world. Most major companies
like Ford, Ernst and Young, and Honeywell have diversity
programs, she explained. In addition, diversity awareness
creates significant business opportunities. By understanding
other cultures, business professionals can more
effectively market their services and products in today's
global business environment.
In closing, Edwards explained
that the college experience is important to developing
diversity awareness. "If you're not prepared to deal
with people who are different from you, you're not prepared
to work in today's corporate world," she said. "It's
not just about good grades."
"Our reply from students
in the School of Management was very positive, and this
event was a great stepping stone for future events," says
Michael Nielsen, who coordinated the event. "Plans are
in the works through SMC to continue these events. We
are looking more toward heading a campuswide diversity
event with some large speakers.
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