40 minutes | Jun 27th 2020

EP 025: Interview Ankit Shah

In this episode Cara sits down to converse with Ankit Shah, M.Ed who, as you will soon find out, is extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion (D&I). You can connect with Ankit on LinkedIn. Note: This conversation was recorded months before the major inflection point on race that has occurred across the United States. For another, more recent conversation between Cara and Ankit, check out the 7/1/20 TLDC Episode: How to Have Conversations About Race at Your Workplace. Connect with Cara & Joe Support the show Music created by Jahzzar. Show Transcript: Cara North 0:00Today, I am super excited to introduce to you all my friend Ankit Shah, who works here at The Ohio State University with me. And through our friendship, I have learned so much from him about diversity and inclusion. And I really felt that it was necessary for him to share some of his insights with you all. I really think you’ll get a lot out of the today’s episode. Ankit, thank you so much for being here. Ankit Shah 0:26Well, thank you for having me, Cara, Cara North 0:27of course. So can you share a little bit about your background? Ankit Shah 0:31Absolutely, absolutely. So I’ve been fortunate that in my entire career, I have been in education sector, starting with so I did my undergraduate and early child education. And after that I worked in all across k 12. So whether it’s a public private charter, and I’ve also worked in Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio. And so within those sectors, I worked with lots of underserved underrepresented populations in K 12. So I feel like that D&I has been part of my blood pretty much my entire career. And then around 2011, I went and got my first master’s degree in higher education, administration, Student Affairs. And because the university that I went to had a really good program to help me learn about different institutional types, and so I do a lot of assistantships and internships across lots of different universities. And in that time, I’ve covered so many different diverse areas where there was student success and retention, academic advising, career coaching, research and assessment, those sorts of things. And after graduation, I did my first few years in career coaching, but even in my time and career coaching, I worked at two liberal arts. I worked at a community college and now I’m going to big 10 at The Ohio State. So in these populations that I got to serve, I serve veterans to residential to students with lots of different types of disabilities. You Name it. And in that time and indecent issues types, I literally look at the lens of P 20. And I’ve been fortunate that my career has allowed me to be all these different spaces. And currently I happen to be working at Ohio State as a career consultant in the alumni Career Management Office, where I served multi generational alumni across the age across the industry. And it’s been amazing to see how now I’ve covered the entire lifespan. And the diversity equity inclusion has been part of my role the entire time and absolutely loving it. So knowing me, I’m a learner at strengths, I’m not done learning. And so I’m in my second graduate degree at Ohio State studying workforce development and education, but specializing in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. My current position has really taught me what it is to work with so many different types of people. And at the end, we’re building relationships right? But all the different identities and especially having five generations in the workplace, how do we be your authentic self? And how do we bring who we are to work is driving me to be even more D&I space as I continue to do this work. Cara North 3:12I love it. And I have to say, I can totally vouch for again, everything that he said he is one of the most energetic people I think I’ve ever met. And I like to think I have a lot of energy. But he definitely is beating me in that department. And one thing that I’d like to just talk about real quickly, is the way that we met. Actually, I have the Master’s in workforce development. And he reached out to me on LinkedIn and said, Hey, I see you have this degree. We work at the same institution. Can we have lunch? And exactly like he said about the relationships. That’s how we formed our relationship. And we’ve been friends ever since. And one thing that he said to me that has stuck with me, and I really want him to unpack this, especially for our listeners. He asked me one day I think we were at Danatos. Yeah, we were Danatos.. And he said, Cara, he said, Why is diversity and inclusion separate from learning and development? And I looked at him and I said, I don’t know. Like, I’ve never thought of that. But I’m so glad, again, through our friendship has really opened my eyes to a lot of these issues. So I’m curious, how do you set those parameters? How do you operationalize what diversity and inclusion is like, what does that mean to you? Ankit Shah 4:30Absolutely. I really appreciate this question for so many reasons, right? Having been in education sector, my entire professional career, where we do diversity, equity inclusion work in pockets, right, and we do this one program. So we have this one event and, and we kind of check it off our checkboxes. But they the way I think, diversity, equity inclusion is because it’s in everything we do. It needs to be holistically integrated in all of our operations and and how we connect with people. Right? So then it’s not this one off thing that we do. It’s continuous, right? It’s in our forefront. And how do we think about, especially now that we have these five generations in the workplace, right? So many different upbringing, so many backgrounds, so many diversity, diversity related information, continuous movement? How do we make the best of this and the current workforce, right? It’s we need to realize our constituents and who we are working with is changing. The demographics are changing, the workforce is changing. And if you really want to keep D&I at the forefront, it’s got to be in your strategic plans, which I know some of the education institutions have done, but then how do you implement it in everything you do? And that takes a lot of effort, right? And it’s very conscious. And what do you do to make that happen? is okay, how are we talking to leaders? How are leaders impacting those decision making that really see who they’re serving, but as well as who are their employees within the organization that are also being served in the D&I lens. So, in a long story short, we really need to build that in in our daily lives. And not just one program or one event, if that makes sense. Cara North 6:22It totally does. And I feel like this is something that a lot of companies and organizations probably give lip service to, right, they probably have a statement somewhere on a website, along with that mission value that nobody knows what their company is, a lot of times, it’s hidden in kind of a lot of the stuff that people don’t read. So if this is something that somebody wants to learn more about, especially in this learning development space, let’s say I’m a brand new instructional designer, I’ve been asked to build an E learning module about I don’t know sexual harassment. Okay, let’s roll with that because that’s right, everyone’s favorite topic, right? Ankit Shah 7:03Absolutely! Cara North 7:05So what are some things? What are some pitfalls they might fall into if they don’t consider diversity and inclusion? Like what are some things that people need to be aware of as they’re starting to build out these learning experiences? Ankit Shah 7:18No, absolutely. It’s I think when we think from it, once again, let’s, to me, everything comes back to people, right? Because we have become, our technology has skyrocketed, right. And we progressed so much. But I think overall, we’re losing all the time is consistent, human touch, right? And when we’re talking about people, we’re talking about emotions, right? We’re talking about even though I know in many workplaces, we want to like, hide those emotions. That’s not talked about it right. But are we being our authentic self, when we’re talking about that? I don’t think so. So the pitfalls are few, right? So one to me is okay, if we’re not going to consider If D&I is not at the forefront, and if it’s one of the strategic plan tactic, so then are we just looking into check it off and be done? Or are we actually looking into implement it and what we do every day? Number two is think about who are your stakeholders or constituents? Right? For example, in my organization currently, you know, we serve these technically 560,000 alumni, you know, that Ohio State serves? Well, our programmatic efforts have been pretty much very similar for a long time. So if we want to engage further with these diverse demographics, right, and I’m not just talking about race and gender, right, I’m really talking about inclusivity, right? race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, ability, all of these spaces. Well, you have to go where they are. You have to understand their needs, right? So if we’re going to think, oh, if diversity and inclusion, are these three things, and we’re not consistently measuring, or assessing, what are the actual needs by doing different type of research, right? Because I think what we’re good about doing is sending out many, many surveys. And we know the razor. It’s a fatigue right now, many people are filling them out, there’s too many. So meeting people where they are. So sometimes you have to go outside of your c
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