Florida International University (FIU) and diversity go hand in hand, thanks in large part to its diverse student population.
“We are predominately a minority-serving institution,” says Angel Burgos, executive director of FIU’s Executive MBA – Miami. Hispanics represent close to 65 percent of the student body, and African Americans another 12 percent.
“There’s no doubt we think of ourselves as a diverse area, one that embraces diversity and inclusion naturally,” says Burgos. Robust minority representation, though, doesn’t eliminate the need for DEI work.
“We tend to automatically think of ourselves as inclusive and diverse, because we are in many ways,” he says. “However, there is nuance to DEI work. We benefit from exploring those complexities.”
To that end, FIU developed an equity action initiative, taking a close look at diversity in its hiring, promotion, and tenure practices, enhancing its African American studies department, organizing groups to discuss social justice, conducting a climate survey of faculty and staff, and hiring a chief diversity officer among the main actions.
“We have done, I think, an extraordinary job in terms of hiring and bringing diversity into the hiring process even before these initiatives were starting to take off because it was always important for us,” says Burgos.
The next key consideration involves incorporating DEI into the curriculum, he says. FIU is creating a microcredential in DEI, both at the undergraduate level and for executive education, including EMBA students. Executive education microcredential topics examine discriminatory practices, corporate policy and implementation, and diversity practices.
“The microcredentials are a great way of getting at this as quickly as possible and making sure it is front of mind for our students,” he says.
In the EMBA Program, the marketing class covers diversity initiatives, including discussions about bringing diversity practices into student workplaces. But much work remains to incorporate diversity on the curriculum side, and much work remains to increase the number of underrepresented people in the C-suite, he says. DEI efforts are not likely to fade away.
“The reality is the world is changing, and the make-up of the U.S. will be vastly different in 20 years. We are going to have more diverse students, a more diverse workforce, and I think for that reason, DEI will continue to be a point of discussion.”