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Dr. Alice Prince on the Importance of Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace

Vero Shiko

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Alice Prince

Born in St. Louis (MO), Dr Alice Prince graduated with a Bachelor of Science from St. Louis University before she achieved her Master of Arts in Communication Management at Webster University. With her passion for education and in her own personal pursuit of academic excellence, Prince went on to receive a Doctorate in Educational leadership and completed a groundbreaking study and research on the effects of student success and teacher-bullying. After receiving her Doctorate, she continued her educational pursuit, engaging in a post-masters certification program at Washington University to learn about program evaluations and scientific assessments. Following her studies, Prince pursued her passion for youth employment and empowerment by serving as the young adult workforce division manager at the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE). After working with SLATE for several years, Prince is currently acting as the CEO and President of Pathways United — a full-service workforce and education consulting firm specializing in diversity and inclusion.

 

Why did you decide to get into the Diversity and Inclusion industry?

Diversity and Inclusion have been a passion of mine for over a decade. I have always worked tirelessly to make all people feel included and happy about who God made them. However, I decided to open a business that intentionally focuses on diversity and Inclusion because of its psychological and social-emotional importance of feeling included and celebrated. I have witnessed firsthand how organizations can diminish because of a toxic work environment. When people do not feel valued or supported, they are unhappy. An unhappy team has a lasting impact on productivity, client services, and the overall health of an organization. Leaders can’t make an effective change when their workforce is unhappy. Not to mention, unhappiness could lead to depression, and depression negatively impacts mental health, families, and communities. I am a massive advocate in working to improve the community. A good diversity and inclusion program is more than just pictures of minorities on the wall; it deals with the “whole” person(s) in the organization.

 

What trends in your industry excite you?

I am excited to learn the work is at the forefront of conversations for many companies and in many boardrooms. Diversity and Inclusion professionals have been around for years, but now people are starting to take notice. Companies are beginning to realize how not dealing with inclusion and diversity issues negatively impacts their work environment. No employer wants a toxic work environment.

 

What does a successful diversity and inclusion program look like?

A successful program will look different depending on the industry and the size of the company. The first aspects I look at are the demographics of the board and C-suite employees. The second aspect is reflecting on how impactful do you want your program to be. Do you want real change, or will this be a position you eliminate a year from now? A good program has quantitative and qualitative data that depict the organization’s actual state, and the plan is multi-tiered. The multi-tiered plan must have an implementation plan from leadership to frontline employees. The plan should be supported by evidence-based practices as well as promise practices. Plans and goals can be from 6 months to 5 years, but it is essential to revisit the goals, objectives, and activities on an average twice a year to ensure they are still relevant. The political landscape of our world is forever shifting. The activities and insights must remain applicable to make real change.

 

What are some steps you have taken with your company’s diversity and inclusion efforts?

Pathways United does not have a stand-alone diversity and inclusion program or just one effort. We are a new company, and from our inception, we viewed everything we did and continue to do through a diversity and inclusion lens.

Additionally, as a small business, I looked at large organizations that I felt were doing right. Dell is one of the organizations. We found inspiration in their non-discriminatory policy and adopted it as our own. We do not want to discriminate for any reason.  We want everyone to feel valued and included. We always want to check our biases at the door.

“Pathways United is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Prohibits Discrimination and Harassment of Any Kind: Pathways United is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity for all employees, participants, clients, and public and to provide a work environment free of discrimination and harassment. All employment decisions at Pathways United are based on business needs, job requirements and individual qualifications, without regard to race, color, religion or belief, national, social or ethnic origin, sex (including pregnancy), age, physical, mental or sensory disability, HIV Status, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, marital, civil union or domestic partnership status, past or present military service, family medical history or genetic information, family or parental status, or any other status protected by the laws or regulations in the locations where we operate. Pathways United will not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on any of these characteristics.”

 

Are there any other companies that have inspired you as a small business?

Yes, the OWN Network and Oprah Winfrey. She has declared November 3rd, our Nation’s Election Day, as a company holiday. I have done that as well. I believe it is vital to lead by example. Pathways United has recently hired a Veteran, and I believe it is crucial to ensure there are no barriers and obstacles preventing anyone from taking part in democracy. Especially since she has helped defend our democracy. Some companies give a few hours to vote, but I believe it was essential to give the entire day. Employees may want to work the polls, take someone to the polls, or vote with their kids. I want to encourage our team members to participate in the democratic process.

More importantly, I am proud to say, as a small business, we observe 17 (seventeen holidays). We want our team members to be healthy, happy, and whole. We are an example. To ensure everyone feels included and valued, Pathways United has the following company holidays:

  • Juneteenth
  • First Day of School Fall
  • First Day of School Spring
  • National Election Day
  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • President’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Friday after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • New Year’s Eve

 

Are you available to offer advice to other companies?

Yes, of course. I can be reached at aprince@pathwaysunited.org or 314-542-3036.

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