Missouri State Chief Diversity Officer Wes Pratt recently earned the first Biz 417 Breakthrough Award. Pratt is a Springfield native working to affect the institutional culture of the university.
How to create a more inclusive culture
Pratt is careful to point out that diversity encompasses all humans. He asks questions to get people thinking about what they can do to create a more inclusive culture. As faculty, staff and students consider these questions, they can work with his office to learn tools to improve the culture for everyone. After all, he said, diversity in the United States is not a new concept. “The Founding Fathers and mothers were native indigenous people, so it was diverse to begin with,” he said.
Pratt sees learning to mitigate bias as a key element of learning to interact in a global society.
“This is the world we live in. In order for students to be competitive and confident in their own skin, we need faculty to be culturally competent.”
People can begin to improve cultural competence by seeking exposure to others. This can start as simply as having a conversation. He seeks competence with a three-prong approach:
- Increase awareness of cultural differences and value of them
- Gain knowledge of differences and what skill set you need to become culturally competent
- Acquire skills to be able to mitigate bias
Pratt sees these tools as essential. “Cultural competence is required for ethical leadership,” he said.
To find out more about Pratt’s efforts and how you can join, review the diversity programs at Missouri State.