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Diversity advocate Aisha Adams is changing academic culture

Aisha Adams (Photo credit: Rafrica Adams /Aisha Adams Media)

Aisha Adams has been busy assisting clients become socially responsible during the recent racially tense climate. While many corporations have found themselves scrambling to connect, Adams has been able to use her background to help her clients connect positively with people of color. Adams partnered with Lenoir-Rhyne University in Asheville, North Carolina, to create the Lenoir-Rhyne Equity and Diversity Institute, which will launch at the end of the summer of 2020.

We talked with Adams about the upcoming program and how other organizations can benefit from diversity training.

The protests of 2020 have many companies scrambling to connect with the social cause of the moment. How does your organization help companies connect with people of color in a progressive way that will be useful beyond today’s racially tense climate?

First, companies can advertise and engage with The Asheville View and reach traditionally marginalized communities through our digital platform. Second, companies can join us in our efforts to create a community of entrepreneurs who are ready to be suppliers, contractors, vendors, and partners by becoming equity partners in our Equity Over Everything’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator. Third, the Lenoir-Rhyne University Equity and Diversity Institute is designed to support, inspire and equip executives, nonprofit leaders, educators, social activists and other community members to become equity advocates.

The goal of the advocate is to disrupt systems, spark change and cultivate better communities through their professional work. We teach equitable leadership and equitable practices so our participants can lead the charge of cultivating spaces of diversity, equity and inclusivity within their workplaces.

How did you decide on the three tenets of Equity Over Everything?

Equity Over Everything is the social responsibility leg of Aisha Adams Media. Changes in social policy, access to thriving wages, and ownership of our own spaces are critical needs, and I wanted to make an impact. When I pitched to my team that the focus would be on social equity, entrepreneurship and landownership, it resonated and the rest is history.

What do you hope to accomplish with the launch of the LREDI ? 

Conscious leaders are frantically looking for new ways to make impactful shifts in diversity, equity, and inclusion in order to make deep and lasting systems changes. In recent years, schools, hospitals, city governments, corporations and nonprofit organizations have tried adopting new policies, priorities and programs that attempt to close the gaps that expose traditionally biased systems. Meanwhile, the gaps are still prevalent and, in some cases, they are widening.

Our goal is to help companies begin to cultivate spaces for diversity, equity and inclusivity and to eliminate the systematic biases their employees, customers and other stakeholders may experience.

What demographic do you hope to target? Why?

LREDI is a corporate training program for companies who want to weave equity and diversity into the DNA of their operation. It’s also a learning opportunity for individuals who simply want to improve their community by creating space. It’s virtual, so it is accessible.