Your company may be diverse in its hiring practices, but it may not be inclusive enough to make people feel comfortable.

That was the jumping off point for our recent “Bridging Capital: The Inclusion Necessity” panel event. Moderator Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon, CEO of Founder Gym and a tech start-up expert, posed the question to Nex3 CEO Marlon Evans and MadeBOS CEO Martha Hernandez: How do you define diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

“I like the quote ‘Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance,” Schumacher-Hodge Dixon started. Hernandez said that businesses today need to offer inclusion “because it’s the right thing to do.”

Evans agreed, saying that, “In business, sometimes as a person of color, you are invited to the meeting, but not the meeting-after-the-meeting.” He explained that businesses also have to be cognizant of the fact that employees bring outside experiences into the office of feeling excluded, such as being looked at sideways while on a morning run.

As we prepare to provide students with a personalized college preparatory curriculum integrated with a corporate work study experience, the same themes are heard from our incoming class. Hernandez, who spoke with three future Cristo Rey De La Salle students, said their three biggest concerns coming into the new program are onboarding, not feeling like they have anything in common with anyone else and feeling like they can’t contribute.

Thank you for your ongoing support as we build a place of diversity and inclusion for all students to grow and thrive.