DUNMORE, Pa. — Penn State Scranton and Wilkes University’s collaborative Family Business Alliance (FBA) is doing its part to spread the word on the campus’ innovative and well-received Diversity Circles to the local business community.
On April 21, the FBA hosted the webinar “Diversity Circles: Why Are They Important?” At the half-hour session, campus Coordinator of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dharti Ray provided attendees with an overview of the Diversity Circles program and information on how local businesses could start their own versions.
During her presentation, she discussed the overriding mission of the Diversity Circles, and how they might benefit a business if integrated into its work culture.
FBA Executive Director Susan Reilly said the topic makes for very timely programming. Given the changing demographics of the business world, local businesses big and small need to start taking the idea of diversity in the workplace seriously.
“I think it’s most beneficial for business owners to be able to understand their employees, and better understand the interactions their employees have,” Reilly said. “And our communities are changing as a whole, so I think we need to take these opportunities to learn to all work together and have our area grow and become more welcoming. If businesses are going to thrive, they need to understand their employees better.”
Ray said, “Diversity Circles provide organizations with the opportunity to better know their employees. The circles encourage people to be open-minded to others on their team, and they create a space for respectful dialogue.”
The brainchild of Chancellor Marwan Wafa and his wife, Sahar al Masri, the Diversity Circles have been offered at Penn State Scranton since 2017. Each semester, a new group of eight to 12 individuals — students, staff, faculty and members of the local community — from an array of backgrounds, come together for five weekly sessions.
During those sessions, a trained facilitator engages the group in discussions that aim to get participants to exchange individual life experiences and perspectives as a way to expand their worldviews and become better promoters of diversity and inclusion.
Ray said that webinar attendees interested in the program can take the first step by participating in the campus’ Diversity Circles. That will allow them to become a trained Diversity Circles facilitator and then bring the initiative to their company.
“I would be happy to support any businesses looking to adapt Diversity Circles into their organization,” Ray said.
Reilly said she’s thrilled that FBA was able to support such a worthwhile venture.
“I’m excited to take this wonderful initiative that Dr. Wafa brought to NEPA and try to expand it to the local business community,” Reilly said.
Those interested in watching the presentation given to FBA members on the Diversity Circles program can watch the recording at this link (passcode: C.i12xwc).