In recent years, the calls have gone out for diversity in a plethora of industries. Hollywood is under fire. The government is under fire. And quite frankly, it is about time the world recognized the manifold benefits of diversity.
As ENTITY Academy has grown over the last few years, diversity has remained one of CEO Jennifer Schwab‘s top priorities. ENTITY’s approach focuses on drawing women (and men) not just from different ethnicities, but from different backgrounds, belief systems, and identities.
In doing so, ENTITY has proven that working hand in hand with those of another mindset not only enables healing, but it empowers a greater level of progress than could be accomplished by a single sect of thought or individual aspiration.
Cultivating a Safe Space
After four years of college as a commuter, I graduated knowing at most five students. Much of that was because of my busy schedule and my introverted tendencies. But at ENTITY, friendship and connection are inescapable. They’re built into the basic fabric of the program.
How do they do it? They segment students into tight-knit clusters from day one so that no one has the opportunity to slip through the cracks.
ENTITY revolves around mentorship. It’s written in their mission and established in the very structure of the company. Hence, these segmented clusters called “mentorship groups.”
As a result of being placed in a mentorship group, you learn the in-depth histories, dreams, and quirks of the brilliant women surrounding you. And even more so, you learn about yourself.
On a small scale, the major benefits of diversity became real for me during the first week. Nothing reveals the creative inner workings of an individual more than a poetry exercise. Write a letter, they said. Now, read it out loud, they suggested. Cue intimate reflections on what we’ve been through and where we believe we will go.
To a larger degree, the safety fostered by mentorship groups revealed itself in an exercise on the Art of Circling. When women circle up — gather, talk about real things, support one another — things shift. So, that’s what we did. We shook the earth a little with a conversational intimacy only possible in an atmosphere cultivated by safety and vulnerability.
Championing One Another
When women from different backgrounds come together, not only does it broaden your network; it broadens your possibilities.
On a very practical level, graduating from college with a degree in English leaves little room for career choices outside of academia. Or, so I thought.
Surrounded by writers from different backgrounds with different aspirations, I realized how much a writer could do. From marketing to poetry to publishing to journalism, the opportunities are vast.
Not only was I inspired to widen my reach, but I was also championed in it. Putting on that graduation cap, I felt as if I was jumping off the cliff into the hard-knock life alone. Then I dove into ENTITY and found a group of women who didn’t have to want what I wanted, they just wanted to see me succeed.
Bridging the Gap
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone in the U.S. who says this nation is not divided. Politics over the last several years have simply stoked a fire that has long been brooding beneath the surface.
Journalistic outlets have unfortunately become some of the greatest examples of this divide. It shouldn’t be surprising that so many media outlets are selling singular opinions. According to Pew Research Center, 77% of newsroom employees are of the same race, gender, and age. Yes, you guessed it, they’re all older white males.
The lack of diversity in media today has resulted in a polarized industry that has gone so far as to weaponize their content against one another. The problem is, many of us have found ourselves caught in the crossfires.
That is precisely why encountering such encouragement and empathy from multi-faceted women (and men) at ENTITY has been one of the most healing experiences in my writing career.
Imagine if the nation became as safe of a space as this little program in Boyle Heights has been? Considering all the benefits of diversity, the possibilities for progress could be endless.
This content was originally published here.