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2010 Laurita Thomas Diversity Champion Award Winner

Name: Beverly Smith

Position/Department: HR Generalist Senior/Pathology

Years Employed at UMHS: on and off since 1970 - but actual doh 1981

What does diversity mean to you? A never-ending opportunity to learn! It is the single most exciting thing I find I do - learning and growing with all types of people from all backgrounds, and feeling a constant state of excitement and awe at how individuals can be so different and how much I don't know! Being excited about working with people who don't exactly look like me or think like me, and finding some common ground that can be shared. Life cannot ever be boring when we realize how much value each individual brings to the table.

How do you demonstrate your commitment to diversity at work?
I try to make sure that I consider all opinions and ideas. That I include people who are not exactly like me to be on teams. That I make sure that diversity information is shared with all staff, and that we ensure that we provide opportunities for staff to attend diversity events. More importantly - I really try to learn as much as a I can about the people I am working with or come into contact with so that I can understand why they may think or do things the way that they do, and then trying to modify my style or behavior to work with that person in a more collegial way.

Other activities include: Facilitate the Valuing Diversity segment of the Foundations for Leaders, facilitate Expect Respect - serve on Diversity Advisory Team, attend various brown bags and programs that focus on the diversity in our organization.

What drives you to make this effort toward embracing our differences? Embracing the differences in others is difficult, it is challenging, it is what causes many conflicts. But, by doing so - we learn to become more accepting of the differences! We have way too much that divides us in this world - we need to work to find the things that will bring us together - not to be just like each other - but to be who we are and be accepted and valued no matter what we look like, believe, or practice in our daily lives.

What others are saying about our Awardee: Beverly is a true deversity champion and is always eager to not only share her knowledge and expertise in this area but is also always committed to continuous development. We are very fortunate to have such a person in our midst. Congratulations Beverly on your contributions to diversity and inclusion at UMHS - The Diversity Network