With diversity, equity and inclusion at the forefront of organizational change across the country, Maryland Smith is doing its part in driving change at the community level by participating in the 2019 Maryland Equity and Inclusion Leadership Program (MEILP).
Started in 2017 through a collaborative partnership between the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights and the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy, the program challenges students to “understand systemic racism and inequality, learn how to incorporate more diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and develop leadership skills.”
Tricia Homer, an executive communication coach at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, joined the program as an instructor in 2018. She says she was excited to be part of the program because of how it aligns with her interest in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues.
“I’ve always wondered how my background impacts the way I am perceived in general, but particularly professionally,” says Homer, citing her background as a woman of color and of Caribbean descent. “I’ve become interested in DEI as a way to make sense of my own experience in this country and professionally in higher education.”
The 2017 inaugural class featured 34 participants from the general public who, over a nine-month period, attended monthly in-class sessions, self-reflection, guest-speakers and a capstone project where participants addressed a DEI issue within their communities.
In 2019, the program launched its second class with roughly 35 participants and ran from January to December. Homer worked alongside six other instructors to help refine the program’s curriculum and enable participants to consider their strengths and capacity as agents of change, as well as their identity and how it might be perceived within their environment.
Homer says it is essential that the next generation of leaders develop emotional intelligence to better serve those in their respective organizations and communities.
“We can’t really connect with people unless we know ourselves,” says Homer. “I think it’s critical that the Smith School not only adapts those values internally in terms of our culture, but also that we also equip our students to be leaders who are adept at building relationships and being inclusive in the way they engage people across cultures, especially in an increasingly global society.”
Homer credits the support of all public, private and non-profit sponsors across all industries, like Maryland Smith, for their involvement and assistance in advancing the program.
For Maryland Smith, Homer says, MEILP offers an opportunity not only to influence future leaders in the DEI space, but also to explore ideas on how the school can spread its positive impact beyond its campus. She encourages everyone to get involved, even if they don’t have a background in DEI issues.
“It’s important that Maryland Smith is recognized as a leader in developing and supporting this program,” says Homer. “It should be the norm that we are more inclusive as a community and society in the way we operate on a day-to-day basis. Inclusive not just in terms of race, but also religion, age or economic status.”
To learn more about MEILP and how to apply, visit meilp.ubalt.edu.