On September 20, members of The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals were joined by Dr. Juan Meraz, Assistant Vice President for the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Missouri State University for a lunch-and-learn session. The program focused on inclusion and unconscious bias, and the interconnection of these topics to growing our workforce as well as other subjects covered through the civic engagement series.
The program began with an overview from Dr. Meraz encouraging Network members to be self-responsible for change and to use the information from the presentation as tools for success in fostering a more diverse and inclusive community.
Dr. Meraz shared, “My job as a Certified Diversity Professional (CDP) is to give you the tools for change, not force you to change.” Furthermore, he explained that with The Network’s focus on supporting workforce growth through the attraction and retention of young professional talent in Springfield, having these tools will serve members well in those efforts.
Dr. Meraz shared several strategies with those in attendance to address implicit bias, reinforcing that as a young professional, “your perspective is going to help your businesses move forward.”
“The Network has its own culture,” Dr. Meraz explained. “As we build relationships with one another, we build our own cultural competencies. We must become champions for one another.”