01/20/2016 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

The Double-Edged Sword: Diversity with Derrick Gay

Derrick Gay speaks on stage with arms open

There is a reason we decided, last year, to host an annual Diversity Forum for independent school educators.

Each fall, we visit hundreds of client schools across the country to learn how we can better serve them. For the past several years, we’ve heard time and again—from schools in all corners of the country—that schools need help diversifying their faculty. Schools, we firmly know, want to be diverse centers of rich and robust learning. They want to attract and retain educators from various backgrounds and with various perspectives. As their recruiters and advocates, we believe it is incumbent upon us to help them do this.

“Diversifying” is a difficult issue to tackle, though—particularly when each person, each school, each institution has a different understanding of what “diversity” really means. When we talk about “adding diversity” to faculty or student populations and in so doing use the word “diversity” as a proxy for “people of color,” are we really getting to the core of the issue? Are we creating communities that are enriched, enlivened, and inclusive—or are we just talking about statistics?

Yesterday, we were thrilled to welcome Derrick Gay, an internationally recognized consultant on issues of diversity, inclusion, and global citizenship, to our office. Derrick discussed with us the many nuances inherent in diversity work, and how “diversity” really means a group of people of varied experiences interacting positively and respectfully with one another. No one is intrinsically “diverse” by him or herself, Derrick pointed out—diversity is, in essence, a relational term. We spent two hours learning from Derrick and engaging in insightful activities that revealed the powerful, personal nature of language. Derrick’s exercise helped us see that words are not neutral and urged us to think about how we use words in the work we do to help schools and faculty connect.

Our workshop with Derrick was an opportunity for us to think about diversity differently as we head into our second annual Diversity Forum. We encourage you to learn more about the work that Derrick does by visiting his website and by watching his insightful TEDx Talk (below).

Are you interested in learning more about diversity in your school or personal life? There’s still time to register for the Diversity Forum on January 30th. Job-seekers, register here. Professional development seekers, register here. Schools, register here.

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