Loyola Sellinger
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Sellinger School Sponsors Howard County Chamber's Multicultural Symposium

Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management sponsored the Howard County Chamber’s second annual Multicultural Symposium, a virtual event featuring a panel discussion about diversity, equity, and inclusion opportunities in business.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball offered opening remarks citing a Forbes Insights survey of businesses and entrepreneurs that identified diversity as the key to producing new products, services and business processes. He said, “Our innovation and creativity will help us not just to survive these challenging times but thrive on the other side of them.”

Kathleen A. Getz, Ph.D., dean of Loyola’s Sellinger School, spoke on behalf of the university as the event sponsor. “We inspire and prepare students to become responsible, ethical business leaders who help their companies and communities become stronger,” she said. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are among Loyola’s core values, and we are committed to creating a community that recognizes the inherent value and dignity of every person.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Christi Monk, D.M., Ph.D., a leadership and organizational development expert and CEO of Christi Monk and Associates. She began by asking panelists why they felt it was important to have dialogues on acceptance and equity in the business community.

Betsy Cerulo, CEO of AdNet/AccountNet Inc. and co-founder and past president of the Maryland LGBT Chamber of Commerce, responded, “When we stay within a comfort zone, we miss out on an opportunity for growth and to expand our view of an issue.” She referenced AIDS activism and how the LGBT community’s quest for change eventually shifted conversations and led to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Cerulo also emphasized how being a white person of influence obligated her to use her voice to open the minds of other people.

Venroy July, principal of Miles & Stockbridge, expressed an optimistic skepticism related to the recent protests and public outcry on behalf of Black people in America, tempered with the knowledge that these conversations have been happening in Black communities his entire life. He said, “Let’s think about the much deeper issues that are rooted in our societal framework that have caused us to get to the position we are in today.” He stressed the importance of addressing issues of equity and economic opportunity by creating opportunities with longevity.

Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Ph.D., chief equity and inclusion officer at Loyola University Maryland, said, “Ultimately, the purpose of these conversations is to maximize human potential.” She detailed how vulnerable conversations enable awareness, lead to an openness to building bridges and greater shared outcomes and goals, and create opportunities that allow everyone to thrive. She recommended organizations conduct internal equity audits to identify areas of disparity. “Equity audits get to the structural elements of an institution and allow a look at the policies and practices that shape who and what an organization is,” she said.

Marco V. Avila, chairman of the board and president of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, described how the system made him feel inferior because he was Hispanic, and for a long time he did not speak up for fear his opportunities would disappear. “We need to change that and make sure everyone is counted and included,” he said. “Corporations need to be deeply involved in instituting official processes, procedures, and frequent, routine conversations.” He also called upon other minorities to speak up when possible. “We need diversity across the board.”

Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business has a deep commitment to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through our mission and the faith tradition of our institution, we are called to listen to the voices of the unrepresented and work towards transformational change. Jesuit ideals guide our work and the relationships we build in the business community. Additional information and resources can be found on the university’s equity and inclusion website.