Pearl Alexander, executive director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement for Georgia Tech’s Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, was the featured speaker for “Anti-Racism and the Practice of Racial Justice: Taking Positive Action” with Scheller College of Business Dean Maryam Alavi on Nov. 18. The virtual event was the last in a lineup presented by Alavi and Scheller’s Diversity & Inclusion Speaker Series this fall.
“We are hosting these sessions in order to elevate the voices of those who can educate and enlighten the community around vitally important issues,” Alavi said earlier this year. “These events are open to the public, and our hope is that Scheller and Georgia Tech students, alumni, faculty, and staff, along the wider business community will join together to engage in open, honest dialogue and learning around diversity and inclusion.”
Alexander has navigated a progressive 30-year career catalyzing transformations in culture and organizational leadership practices. She leads professional development and engagement experiences designed to build and nurture global leadership capacity towards equity-mindedness and inclusive excellence. She is also co-founder of Georgia Tech’s Inclusive Leaders Academy and principal director of the Leading Women@Tech program. Alavi has served on the Leading Women@Tech advisory board since the program’s inception in 2016.
Alexander discussed some of the challenges that 2020 has presented including the “double pandemic” of racial injustice and Covid-19. She also explained concepts of antiracist ideology, racial justice practices, individual resiliency skills and practices, and anti-racism best practices for organizations by relaying the importance of building anti-racism and inclusion into its organizational culture, institutional strategy, and structures.
“Maryam talked a little bit about Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and we have indeed been busy this year,” Alexander opened. “We had lots of conversations over the summer -- we started right after the death of George Floyd and all the surrounding activities: the protests, the hashtags. This evening, I want to end with our common human experience in mind and understanding that we probably need some centering, and that we need to focus on solidarity and some really practical things we can do as we are working to shift and become better people, and so that we can create a better world.”
“One practice we can all embrace is empathy,” Alexander added, just after the event. “Being willing to engage with others through the practice of empathy means fewer assumptions, less judgement, deep listening and mindfulness -- other skills associated with racial justice and just a few that are taught through the Inclusive Leaders Academy and our culture-coaching initiatives.”