It seems as though America is not much better than it was when slavery was abolished or when integration happened. That sounds grim, but with the implementation of Black Lives Matter due to police brutality on the black community, America is past due for a reality check. Granted, slavery has been abolished, and true, the U.S. is not that bad off, but it should be noted that the U.S.’s mental state seems to be no better than the nineteenth century. Take that mental state and move it into a “post digital” age, with all the time being spent online. We shop from online businesses and search websites belonging to companies. People must filter all of the great graphics and interactive websites to recognize if a company behind the site values ethnic diversity and inclusion. To help, schools are a vital puzzle piece to help solve this critical issue. With online education on the forefront today, people can be taught, virtually, how to filter impressive web design and locate crucial information to learn what a company values ethnically.
This week’s ISTE element 7a, “Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities,” is the specific direction for this topic of ethnic diversity and inclusion. I especially like that when you hover the mouse over “use technology for civic engagement,” the clarifying sentence pops up, explaining, “Becoming an informed citizen and making positive and socially responsible contributions…” (ISTE link). Have you ever bought a piece of technology like a laptop or a smartphone and taken the time to find out about the company behind the technology? What about a website that belongs to a company? Have you read their mission statement or look to see what they might list as company values? Being diverse is beneficial to both the consumer and the company. The world is made up of so many different ethnicities. Within those different ethnicities, we can learn new cultural views and trust that all the other ethnic bits of intelligence have helped create the company.
In an article by Madeline Burry title, “How to Tell if a Company Values Diversity and Inclusion,” Burry gives some good, practical ways to determine if a company is culturally diverse. I don’t know if you are like me, but I pay attention to diversity in television commercials and photos. It is always interesting when you see a black person, a white person, and an Asian person in a commercial or picture because you know it was added purposely. But, does that mean the company is culturally diverse? Maybe. Burry says, and I have not thought of this before, “Find out who’s on the leadership team at the company” (par. 9). Most of the time, if I read a statement from the company that says anything related to their values, I accept it because the company stated it. Thinking about what Burry noted, though, may help confirm whether the company’s statement is true. If the leadership team is all white males and maybe one white female, then perhaps the company does not value what they say they do.
After finding out about Diversity Inc from reading the section in Ruha Benjamin’s book, Race After Technology, Diversity Inc. provides some quick check information on websites. You can search for the top 50 companies on their site, as well as find out how they determine if a company is diverse and inclusive–what they look for. I noticed that Diversity Inc. will allow companies to request an invitation to fill out a survey, which can then be submitted to determine if a said company values diversity. The company could then end up on the list of top 50.
In the classroom (literally and virtually), it is essential to begin teaching diversity and inclusion early. Who better to do this than Dr. Seuss! One of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories is The Sneetches:
An excellent SAMR approach to help take this lesson to a higher technological level would be to have students retell The Sneetches in their own way, creating different characters and scenes but still following the theme of diversity and inclusion. There are plenty of free storyboard sites (here is one through PBS) that take students step by step in creating their own version, which could then be presented to the class. This lesson is a significant beginning step towards helping students recognize ethnical diversity before moving into how to determine a company’s stance. Teachers could then take this lesson further by looking at specific companies. Have younger students point out different ethnicities on websites, and older students look specifically at mission and values statements. This probably won’t solve the problems America is still struggling to move past, but it is a positive step uphill instead of downhill.
Burry, Madeleine. “How to Tell If a Company Values Diversity and Inclusion.” The Balance Careers, www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-tell-if-a-company-values-diversity-and-inclusion-4770190.
“ISTE Standards for Coaches.” ISTE, www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches.
“Storyboard.” PBS LearningMedia, ca.pbslearningmedia.org/tools/storyboard/.
Ruha Benjamin, “Introduction,” Race after Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code (Medford, MA: Polity, 2019), 1-32
H.L. “SAMR Model: A Practical Guide for EdTech Integration.” Schoology, www.schoology.com/blog/samr-model-practical-guide-edtech-integration.
Seuss, Dr. The Sneetches, and Other Stories; Written and Illus. by Dr. Seuss. Random House, 1961.