Melting pot in the workplace

A conversation on inclusion

It’s not uncommon to work with someone from another culture and now speakers are stepping up to talk about inclusion. 

The College of Business hosted a conversation on inclusion in the University Center on Sept. 13. The topic was focused on immigrants in the workplace. 

A panel of men and women talked to students about their lives as immigrants coming to the United States and how they found success in their work. 

One of the speakers was Raquel Salas, an attorney and co-founder of Avanti Law Group. 

“In the past two years, we’ve seen a very negative narrative about immigrants, not only in the workplace but overall in America,” Salas said. “Michigan is a state that has about six to seven percent of its population as immigrants, so at some point or another, students will either work with immigrants, supervise immigrants or be hired by immigrants, and it’s important for them to know the other side of the story, you know, listen to the reality of the immigrant community in the United States, especially in Michigan.” 

Another speaker was chief executive officer of Eastern Floral Bing Goei. According to Goei, immigrants are valuable in Michigan’s workplace because during the recession, the state lost population and nearly 800,000 jobs. 

“Now as the state is regaining its economic strength, we are needing those positions to be filled,” Goei said. “Because of the loss of population, we are going to look at other talent pools, which we believe are immigrants and refugees, and foreign-born educated and skilled workers, to fill those jobs that are necessary for Michigan’s economy to continue to grow.” 

Founder of Avomeen Analytical Services Shri Thanedar told students about his experience finding work in Michigan. According to Thanedar, he came to the United States from India in 1979 and became a citizen in 1988. Thanedar has run small businesses for the past 26 years and is running for governor in Michigan in 2018. 

“Sometimes we only look at outer looks or how somebody talks but there is more to it than that,” Thanedar said. “If we can have an open mind and understand, then we can do better.” 

Some students, like Ferris international business sophomore Taylor Wildeboer, came to the conversation to learn about how to be more inclusive in the workplace. 

“The world is becoming more global, so you’re never going to have a job where you don’t meet someone or work with someone who’s from a different country or a different culture,” Wildeboer said. “So I think it’s important to expand your horizons, to gain a better understanding and learn how to communicate better with people from different places or backgrounds.” 

Ferris finance exchange student Romy Wassenaar came to the event to hear the immigration stories of the speakers. 

“I’m also interested in, like, how did they get to where they are now?” Wassenaar said. 

Thanedar believes that immigrants and native-born Americans would be most successful if they work together as one. 

“Ultimately, we all will be successful if we all can be together and work together,” Thanedar said. “We need to really be inclusive in everything that we do, because we all have common goals and our goals fit well into the general goal of our country.”