“I pledge to check my bias, speak up for others and show up for all.”
That simple phrase was the focus, and promise, of Huskers who gathered at the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts Feb. 5 for the CEO Action Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.
Students, faculty and staff were able to sign the pledge via several computers set up in the Carson Center. Afterward, they received a pledge card and could take celebratory photos with Herbie Husker.
— Heath Tuttle, PhD (@heathvon) February 5, 2020
Karen Kassebaum, director of staff diversity and inclusion, said the event was the start of a more concentrated effort to engage students with CEO Action. Nebraska joined the organization — which advances diversity and inclusion efforts in workplaces across the country — in 2018. Programming since that point has been mostly targeted toward staff in the form of small-group discussions.
“This year, we decided that campus isn’t really aware of CEO Action and what it’s about,” Kassebaum said. “We’re doing a campus campaign to get people educated on what CEO Action is and the expectation around diversity and inclusion, and hopefully get people to agree that they want to do something, sign the pledge and be active around diversity and inclusion at Nebraska and in the community.”
The event was an eye-opening experience for Myles Jay, a senior advertising and public relations major from Omaha.
“I actually didn’t know too much about it before,” Jay said. “Then I got here, and I started reading the pledges, and now I have a better understanding of what I’m pledging and what I’m going to try to get everybody else to pledge also.”
Rhonda Taylor, an office support associate in the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services, said taking the pledge was important to her as both a parent and university employee.
“I think it’s a great initiative,” Taylor said. “I have two kids, one in elementary school and one in middle school, and for them to know their biases and actions and be out of their comfort zone is very important.
“You need staff to be able to stand up for students, as well. As students graduate and move on and go into the workforce, they’ll learn about these initiatives, and how maybe we’ve molded them or helped them to understand some of these things.”
Two other companies in Nebraska, Mutual of Omaha and Union Pacific, are also members of CEO Action. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is the first and only higher education institution in the state to join.
According to Kassebaum, the university’s involvement with CEO Action has several key benefits.
“It adds an opportunity to learn from other places on what they’re doing, because CEO Action is actually a place where you can come and share information and gain good practices,” Kassebaum said. “There are over 500 organizations involved in this, so I think this gives us a platform to gain resources, share resources and have a dialogue and conversation with other people.
“It also holds us to our commitment. In a way, it’s a constant reminder that we signed this commitment and we believe in it — now let’s do the work.”
Those unable to attend the CEO Action event can sign the pledge online.