Black Disney employees provide insight to HBCU students...

Full title: Black Disney employees provide insight to HBCU students on the billion-dollar company's "commitment to diversifying"

An article by Jamaija Rhoades for Professor Lynn Waltz's class

Former Hamptonians and now Disney employees shared the efforts they have seen Disney make to ensure more black and brown voices are a heard during the company's virtual HBCU Storytellers at Disney forum for students at Hampton University.

"When I came in as an intern, there was a moment where I was like oh my God, I feel alone. But within the two to three years I was at GMA, I could see the commitment to diversifying. By the time I left, there were three times more people of color than there were I started," said Christina Powell, a producer of the Tamron Hall Show and 2017 graduate of Hampton University.

Other panelists shared how their time at Disney has given them the chance to network and communicate with individuals of African descent who come from different cultural backgrounds than themselves.

"PULSE is one of Disney's resource groups, and it is centered around black and African American culture. One of the things I really appreciated with being a member of PULSE was that I got to learn about other cultures within the black culture," said Barry Dillard, the Vice President of Risk Management Services and a 1990 graduate of Hampton University.

Along with having resources and safe spaces for people of color, members of the panel attested to the fact that many of the people that they work with are allies of the black community.

"Disney is full of allies, there are great, great leaders that are aware of everything that is going on. Especially now with the George Floyd killing, we have been asked for advice on how they (allies) can do better to better serve the African American community," said Courtnee Collier, a manager of Public Relations and 2001 graduate of Hampton University.

Panelists spoke on how their employment at Disney has given them the chance to highlight the importance of HBCUs and as a result, the company is connecting directly with these universities for interns.

"I guarantee you, when they looked at my resume, they had no idea Hampton University was an HBCU, probably didn't even know what HBCUs were. Once I got the job, I certainly got to tell them about it, I can tell them about HBCUs and the importance of them," said Dillard.

Aside from sharing their experiences as a being a person of color and working for a billion-dollar company, panelists provided tips on how to land an internship and how valuable the Hampton University experience had been in their lives.

"You don't get what you get out of a HBCU education anywhere else. Really don't take for granted the professors that are really investing in you. It feels like a pain, but I promise no one will ever pretend to care that much ever again," said Powell.

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