A Call for More Attention to Internships in Racial Equity Efforts
Internships need more attention in organizational DEI efforts, states a recent article in Stanford Social Innovation Review.
"Racial minorities face systemic obstacles in the workplace," writes Jasmine Medina-Perez. "Companies can work to foster an inclusive environment for all by removing the gateway barriers that prevent racial minorities from applying to and accepting internships."
Reluctance to apply and several systemic barriers limit the diversity of individuals from seeking internships. Unpaid internships specifically run the risk of unequal socioeconomic and racial representation. They typically can be afforded only by those with enough economic security to work for free for months at a time. Research has proven the correlation between lower socioeconomic status and race and ethnicity. Limiting the intern pool in this way leaves behind less advantaged students.
Addressing how to create an inclusive internship program, Medina-Perez writes:
Organizations that seek to improve DEI in their internship programs should focus on those who lead the programs. A diverse set of leaders will likely attract more talented diverse interns and create sustainable changes for future intern recruitment, and, potentially, the entire organization’s racial demographics. Such leaders should prioritize diversity from the bottom up, complete DEI training, focus on relationships with universities and diverse partners, and be transparent about their employee demographics as well as their hiring and promotion practices. The diversity of a company’s leadership and the work those leaders do to promote inclusivity indicate to potential interns that company’s commitment to racial equity.
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