Career Services

OU Students and Employers Discuss Inclusion in the Workplace at 2021 Diversity Panel and Mixer

icon of a calendarMarch 10, 2021

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OU Students and Employers Discuss Inclusion in the Workplace at 2021 Diversity Panel and Mixer
DJ Bridges, University Relations Manager for Rock Central, smiling at the camera.
DJ Bridges, University Relations Manager for Rock Central, represented event sponsor Rocket Mortgage as panel moderator during Exploring Inclusion in the Workplace: Panel and Mixer, which took place virtually. Image provided by DJ Bridges.

Equipping students with the tools to land career-related jobs that encourage them to be their authentic selves, is a cornerstone of Oakland University Career Services.

Preparing students for professional success goes well beyond a fine-tuned resume or exceptional interview skills. Students must also understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and know how to prioritize these values in their career-related endeavors.

The Diversity Panel and Mixer allows students and employers to engage in meaningful conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion in today’s work environment. This event provides an opportunity for students to network with employers who intentionally prioritize inclusivity, and build awareness of the work being done around this topic in the workplace.

The 2021 Diversity Panel and Mixer was made possible by a generous sponsorship from Rocket Mortgage. This is the second year Rocket Mortgage has provided a lead sponsorship for this event.

DJ Bridges, University Relations Manager for Rock Central, played a key role in helping to envision this year’s virtual event and also served as panel moderator on the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. He understands the important role this event plays in preparing students for a successful transition to the workforce.

“This year’s Diversity Networking Mixer was amazing! Rocket Mortgage was honored to have the chance to sponsor this year’s mixer again because we know how important and impactful DEI is to everything we do,” says Bridges. “The opportunity to help create an inclusive environment for all, be a part of an impactful panel and network with tons of diverse students was great. We understand that these students are the future and we love to be the company to be there as a resource for them! We look forward to being a part of it in the future!”

Rocket Mortgage is deeply committed to building awareness and understanding of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition to the Diversity Panel and Mixer, they have also partnered with Oakland University to support Hispanic Heritage Month, Pride Month, Summer Business Program, GrizzHacks, the Veteran’s Day Banquet and the Center for Multicultural Initiatives CORE (Collectively Oakland Retains Everyone) program.

This year’s Diversity Panel and Mixer was held virtually for more than 80 participants, including 12 employers who served as panelists and attended the mixer. The event was included on the Oakland University African American Celebration Month calendar and was developed in partnership with the Center for Multicultural Initiatives, the Gender and Sexuality Center and Disability Support Services.

In addition to Rocket Mortgage, representatives from Rock Ventures, Ernst and Young LLP, the City of Detroit and DTE participated in an hour long panel discussing topics of anti-racism, accessibility, LGBTQ+ inclusivity, and how to navigate returning to the office during the pandemic.

During the mixer portion of the event, students, alumni and staff were invited to hear from attending employers about their DEI initiatives and ask questions. Wayne Thibodeau, Senior Director of Career Services, was impressed with the diverse topics and dialogue taking place between students and panelists.

“It was invigorating to see the open and transparent discussions around key questions from students on a variety of DEI topics in a safe place,” says Thibodeau. “I also participated in the breakout rooms and was impressed with the in-depth conversations led by our wonderful employer partners representing a variety of industries.”

Interested in learning more? View a recording of the “Exploring Inclusion in the Workplace” panel discussion on YouTube or contact Sarah Swarz at [email protected] for details about next year’s event.

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