Leadership and Management Division

Understanding Diversity in the Workforce

  • 1.  Understanding Diversity in the Workforce

    Posted 05-12-2019 12:18

    The value of developing a diverse workforce and a supportive environment is more recognized than ever. Understanding the wide range of diversity is a fundamental component of success. Expand your perspective at this LMD session at the SLA Annual Conference:

    "Diversity in the Workplace: It's Broader Than You Think,"
    with Jennifer Swanson, Richard Hulser, & Michele A.L. Villagran, 10:15-11:30 am, Tuesday, June 18th

    About the Topic

    The workforce includes people from many backgrounds and with a variety of visible and not so visible characteristics. Many of us also bring our own attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner, also known as 'implicit bias'. This session is aimed at broadening awareness and appreciation of who we work with, work for, or who works for us, to enable all of us to understand how these factors can impact both getting a job and the quality of life in the workplace. LGBTQ, age and experience, medical health issues, and implicit bias on the job will be discussed

    .About the speakers:

    Richard Hulser is president of Richard P. Hulser Consulting. He has experience in corporate, academic, and museum libraries and archives, and as a vendor. His expertise includes library and archives management, content licensing, technology strategy planning, vendor partnerships and negotiations, scholarly research analysis with altmetrics, and digital library management. He comments on these topics through his blog. Richard has held a variety of elected and appointed positions in SLA, currently as SLA Southern California Chapter President and is a Fellow of SLA,

    Jennifer Swanson has over 30 years' experience supporting B2B decision making in a wide variety of industries. She has worked on both the demand side of research (ARAMARK, Draper, MITRE) and supply side (Fuld, Gartner). Her specialties include quantitative and qualitative data analysis, data visualization, competitive and market intelligence, research methodologies, project management, writing (business and creative fiction), and instruction/teaching. Jen has an MBA from Boston University Graduate School of Management and MLS at Simmons.

    Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran, CEO of CulturalCo, LLC, consults in cultural competency, diversity & inclusion, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence. As Assistant Professor with SJSU School of Information, her research focuses on diversity and social justice in library and information science plus cultural intelligence phenomena within libraries. She earned her EdD in Organizational Leadership and MA in Dispute Resolution with Pepperdine University and completed her MLS in Legal Informatics and her MBA in Strategic Management at the University of North Texas.

    ABOVE:  Michele A.L. Villagran (L),  Richard Hulser (M),  Jennifer Swanson (R)

    We asked our panels of experts to respond to a few questions to add additional insights about this session:

    How did you first get interested in this topic?

    Richard: My first master's degree in education focused on enabling visually and physically challenged visitors to learn earth science concepts using accessible exhibit specimens at a natural history museum. I am also co-founder of the SLA GLBT Issues Caucus and have incorporated awareness of diversity in my management and leadership roles in various organizations throughout my career.

    Michele: In my doctoral work in the 2000s. I started my business in 2014 because of my passion for such issues.

    Jennifer: I started first reading and then writing gay romances about 10 years ago. That got me involved with the GLBTQ+ community where I fought for marriage equality and was involved with PFLAG and AIDS research and support groups. Then my nephew became my niece and I volunteered for transgender rights. We found that both of us were chronically depressed with anxiety issues. She had no idea it ran in the family and that I've been on meds since my 20s.

    What can attendees expect to learn or take away from the session?

    Jennifer:  Even with a growing base of support for GLBTQ+ rights, there is still a need for training in workplaces and professional organizations around preventing discrimination and making these places safe for all people. That includes people with mental health issues as well. Medications help but aren't always 100% effective at all times.

    Richard: Attendees will gain an increased understanding and appreciation of diversity for success in the workplace.

    Michele: Come with an open mind! Our hope is to have an open dialogue about experiences and challenges faced within the workplace.

    Can you share a tip or piece of advice as a sneak preview of this session?

    Michele: Our focus will be on the workplace environment as employee and employer (as appropriate) and the interactions with clients or customers. The challenges panelists have encountered will be discussed further.

    Jennifer: We're all just people! We have good and bad days, strengths and weaknesses, and family and interests like everyone else. We deserve to be welcomed and supported like everyone else.

    Richard: Be aware that there is more to the person you see than may be visible. We all bring a variety of talent, experience, and more to the workplace.


    LMD thanks our generous Annual Conference sponsor, BST America, for making our annual conference events possible!


    Elizabeth Trudell
    LMD Communications Director
    Faculty Associate, Columbia IKNS Program