The Mission Society is hosting a virtual Career Fair this October to highlight the variety of opportunities available to students after high school and college graduation - connecting young people with professionals and sharing their invaluable advice for the future. In this article, Evelyn Shaw introduces us to the DEI profession, and the various skills required to find success in the field.
Over the last decade, the growth of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) field has created numerous opportunities for successful and meaningful careers. Once a component of Human Resources, employee-led initiatives, and occasional training programs, DEI has found a more formalized space in the workforce – focused on representation, the creation of fair policies, and education on important workplace issues. It has become, in many companies, a fully staffed department that influences every level of the organization.
For the Mission Society Career Fair, we spoke with Evelyn Shaw, a Senior Manager of DEI at a tech startup, to introduce aspiring professionals to this burgeoning career path. She shared that, alongside her team, her work entails tasks like analyzing data about pay equity, investigating patterns around staff retention, and implementing strategy for fair hiring and promotion practices. Some members of the team even organize events and resources that ensure staff from all backgrounds are seen and heard.
On a larger scale, Evelyn emphasized how invaluable DEI has become for communities that are often underrepresented in corporate spaces. It offers a level of support and structure that can have long-lasting effects on workplaces, making them more equitable and safe for current and future employees. To that end, many soft skills like communication, problem solving, and critical thinking are a vital part of the job. Being able to logically and objectively break down situations, while building trust and understanding amongst co-workers, is paramount. And this, according to Evelyn, can come with some surprising revelations –
“What stands out to me most in this role is that it includes more emotional labor than any other role I’ve had before. When I think about the skills I use, a lot of it has to do with empathy, understanding, and connection. You need to understand how to bridge the gap between different opinions and ideas, and find the right avenues for moving your goals forward a little bit at a time.”
The process of moving the needle on those goals can feel slow, especially for people who are passionate about helping others and making impactful change. When confronted with the potential burnout caused by this tension, Evelyn says that finding a community of like-minded practitioners and co-workers will go a long way. She also reminded us that ‘you’re never stuck’, and if change is needed, the job will help you develop many transferable skills that can lead to new opportunities.
DEI is an ever-growing and constantly changing field, responding directly to the needs of our time and the diverse individuals navigating the workforce. For young people looking to incorporate advocacy and community cultivation into their career journeys, DEI has many exciting possibilities to offer. However, no matter what path aspiring professionals decide to pursue, Evelyn left us with a few powerful words for our students –
“Don’t let people take away your self confidence. Don’t feel like you need to justify the space that you have. You’ve earned your place.”
Thank you to Evelyn Shaw for taking the time to speak with us for the Mission Society Career Fair! To join us for more job highlights, advice, and interviews throughout the month, check out our blog or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.