Poli-Sci to D&I?
Coming from a political science background that predominantly focused on the criminal justice system, my venture into Diversity and Inclusion raised a lot of eyebrows. After all, my experience working in the system wouldn't translate into the D&I field, right? Wrong.
When I first started gaining interest in D&I, I, like many others, thought my background would hold me back. I believed that just because my role was not directly related to D&I, I would fail to truly understand and carry out the work. After months of confusion, I finally took a step back and analyzed the tasks in my current role. This is what my typical work day looked like:
- Analyze client's needs and treatment plans and hold case managers accountable
- Provide clients resources needed for stabilization
- Promote self-care opportunities for staff
- Research professional development opportunities and training for staff
- Develop university recruiting program
Slowly, I started to realize that every aspect of my job had ties to D&I. Working in the criminal justice system meant I was constantly exposed to the eye-opening disparities that exist in our unspoken system. Researching ways to promote self-care and professional development was essential for high employee engagement and inclusion. Developing ways to reach university students strengthened our diversity and visibility efforts.
Now, when I get asked about my background, I have no qualms about answering. Working in the criminal justice system has given me unique perspectives and experiences; perspectives and experiences that are central to D&I work. I have one bit of advice for everyone coming to this field with an "unconventional" background: every job is a D&I job. Take a look at your role, find the D&I aspects, and work to emphasize them. I was lucky enough to do so and I haven't looked back since.