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Women of Color Network Employee Involvement Group offers connections and engagement
In 2019, the NWTC Diversity Team announced its new initiative of Employee Involvement Groups (EIGs) to further support diversity and inclusion efforts at the College. EIGs are self-initiated employee-led groups whose focus is on a common human characteristic (such as race, ethnicity, generation, ability, gender, etc.). EIGs have become best practice across all industries due to the benefits they bring to the organization and its employees including helping foster a sense of belonging for underrepresented employees, increasing collaboration between employees campus wide, and aiding in the efforts to diversify the workforce. Today there are four active NWTC EIGs: Hmong Professionals, Intertribal, Pride & Allies Network, and Women of Color Network (WOCN).
As a WOC employee, I was excited with the opportunity and potential EIGs could bring to further the College's commitment to diversity and inclusion. In 2020, while women at our institution made up 61.6% of benefit eligible employees, WOC made up only 4.9%. I knew firsthand the value of having a space where I could connect with other diverse employees and viewed EIGs as an opportunity to help bring together and amplify the voices of employees at our institution whose experiences and perspectives are sometimes overlooked. This is what led to the creation of the WOCN, whose purpose is to create a safe, inclusive space where employees who self-identify as WOC can gather to connect, engage, and provide peer-to-peer mentorship. Additionally, the group is focused on building a supportive network to help its members overcome and/or remove barriers, celebrate their successes, and achieve their full potential as valued employees of the College.
As a member of the WOCN, it's been a great experience getting to know and collaborate with employees from all different areas of the college and discuss ways in which we can further increase the promotion and belonging of employees. Some goals the group is exploring include social networking events, the development of onboarding resources for new WOC employees, as well as the building of connections and collaborations with community organizations to increase networking opportunities. While currently our group has 15 active members/advocates, we hope to continue to grow and welcome all NWTC employees who are passionate about supporting our purpose. Though current members of the WOCN all self-identify as WOC, it's our passion to make NWTC a welcoming space for all students and staff, along with our different cultures and experiences both in our communities and the workplace that bring us together.
Zianya Saldana works in the NWTC Student Support Services office as a Student Support Specialist. She is an NWTC alumna and has been an employee for 10 years, always in a role focused on helping students succeed. She has served as a member of the Diversity Team, is Chair of the WOCN, and has been part of different diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and efforts during her time here.
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