November 9, 2012
Linda Meric, 9to5 executive director
The Huffington Post
View the original: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-meric/expanding-opportunity-mea_b_2094674.html
What makes America’s workforce strong and our economy globally competitive?
Our economy and our country do better when all of us have a fair chance at the American Dream, an opportunity to recognize and fulfill our potential. To make that dream a reality, our nation’s colleges and universities must have the ability to offer inclusive admissions that attract students from different backgrounds and perspectives. Diversity benefits everyone and helps prepare all of tomorrow’s leaders for a global marketplace.
Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which will decide if race can be used as one of many factors in higher education admissions. The outcome of Fisher will determine whether qualified students from diverse backgrounds, who work hard and succeed despite sometimes enormous difficulties, should have access to higher learning opportunities and a fair chance to achieve their full potential.
The University of Texas at Austin has created a fair process for expanding opportunity by removing barriers and opening up avenues to opportunity for students from a range of backgrounds. Within a group of qualified applicants, universities need to be able to consider a variety of factors in addition to test scores to create a diverse learning environment that prepares students for the real world.
Lindsey Challis, a recent college graduate now living in Atlanta, says “Many of my friends and classmates in college came from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. The perspectives and stories they shared with me enriched my studies and taught me lessons you can’t learn from textbooks.”
What’s more is that a diverse, well-educated generation of Americans is crucial to our national interest. “As a recent grad entering the workforce, I am better equipped to appreciate the multiple perspectives of my co-workers and clients thanks to the diversity I was surrounded by during my college years,” continues Challis.
Our nation’s leading corporations value and seek diversity in their workforces — it’s a sound business model. If we limit access to higher learning, as a nation, we will suffer the disadvantages of not being able to compete in a globally expanding economy. Over 50 Fortune 100 companies filed a friend of the court brief in Fisher, explaining that diverse universities and workplaces are crucial to America’s business success. To get our own economy back on track and succeed in the global economy, American workers need to reflect and understand the different perspectives of a variety of consumers and clients. Importantly, a diverse workforce also helps break down stereotypes and combat discrimination.
Upholding diversity programs and using a holistic approach in considering qualified applicants, will create a more diverse classroom, a better-prepared workforce and a thriving economy. Our national values can be best expressed by expanding opportunity that embraces fairness, hard work and diversity that benefits everyone.