Dean Maryam Alavi of the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business recently hosted the inaugural session of the Dean’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Speaker Series for the 2021 – 2022 academic year. Dean Alavi invited Shan Cooper, executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, for a discussion on driving equity and progress in Atlanta and beyond.
Addressing the audience, Cooper shared. “Getting an education was a differentiator for me because now I can pay it forward. As I look to the future and look at those who are studying today and think about racial inequities, I’m grateful that you’re talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Cooper discussed improving income inequality in Atlanta through focusing on six areas where people of color fall behind: culture, education, health and wellness, neighborhoods and housing, wealth creation, and criminal justice reform. She referenced Dr. King’s concept of the “Beloved Community” and encouraged attendees to volunteer in their communities, regardless of how big or small their contributions are.
She also encouraged participants to advocate for diversity in leadership roles and teams within their organizations. Issues such as high turnover and low retention rates for people of color are just some areas in which the interests of companies and advocates align.
“You will get investment when you can explain how your leadership will impact the economics of the company,” she said, noting that when she left Lockheed, three out of four leaders in the organization were women.
Cooper stated that she is encouraged that this generation will be the one that will have an impact on growing diversity, equity, and inclusivity.