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Diversity Author: Bo-Dean Sanders – Diversity and Inclusion Advocate

Role : Author

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How did you start your career in DEI or Social Impact?

Two reasons: first, DEI started for me (37 years ago) when I transferred from Cheyney University to Villanova University. And after years of hearing my peers (teammates), classmates, and colleagues – tell and re-telling my story of; starting my college athletic career at the oldest HBCU in the country, then transferring to a Catholic affluent PWI, it was time to “put it on paper” (advice by an NFL Hall of Famer).

Second, after Colin Kaepernick took a knee and his message became misunderstood. The media began looking for answers, and all the media could come up with was “we need to have the race conversation.” And every time I heard or witnessed the media make that statement — it drove me to react. So, I decided to tell my story of Diversity and Inclusion Through Sports.  

Tell us about a personal experience on why our world needs more Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

My Memoir (Seven Chapters and 42 Topics) covers my personal experiences in the DEI space. I was able to gain and grow from my experiences; growing up in a Black environment and leaving that environment for a new (new to me) White mainstream and different environment, proves DEI is necessary. I was able to shed and debunk the negative stereotypes on all sides and I learned to embrace my new environment the same as my old environment. I know, participating in new conversations, and having new experiences leads to new ideas and positive outcomes.  

What does DEI mean to you?  

I’ve lived the blueprint, true variety, genuine fairness and sustainable growth. It’s the process and path to building lifelong, sustainable and successful relationships. DEI positions individuals, groups, teams, organizations, and corporate America to win with positive experiences across racial lines. 

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What is your proudest moment as a DEI professional?

Reading and hearing the positive reviews from my readers and receiving messages on my social media is meaningful. Having conversations with people that agree with my message and approach. Finding that people want to build and have better relationships across racial lines.

Why is DEI important to you as an individual?

I know (from personal experience) the principles and process of DEI will lead to a better society by building, enhancing, and growing the environment. I see DEI as the foundation for ‘Race Relations’ and the tools, principles, elements and responsibilities are important to our growth. I have a vested interest in the success of the DEI process and that vested interest is my family, friends, and larger community. 

If you could change one thing in terms of DEI, what would that be? 

I would leave the ‘on the surface conversations, exercises and workshops in the classroom for young people. And provide more options for adults to learn from or start with the low-hanging fruit conversations, and not start with an uncomfortable conversation. Because the chances are that conversation will not have a positive outcome.

What is stopping your community, organization or company from achieving a more equal and equitable world? 

It’s not only, my community, it’s all communities. Most people are talking over each other because everyone wants to be right or win the conversation. And with the addition of social media, people are responding quickly with emotion, instead of thinking clearly when they respond to statements, and commentary made by others. 

If you could say one thing to the leader in your community, organization or your company about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, what would you say?

It starts at the top! From the owners, CEOs, board members, university presidents, etc. and they must create space for new leaders to grow.    

Anything you want to share with your readers?

My book is not a grievance story. It’s a positive expression. I highlight a diverse group of people I met during my journey and I highlighted them because it’s hard to walk in someone’s shoes from a different race. So, I wanted my readers to have more than one option of identifying someone they could relate too. I know we’ve come a long way regarding race relations, and I understand how hard it is to take the first step towards having the race conversation

This interview is part of the Global Diversity Thought Leader Series™

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About the author

Susanne Ricee

Susanne Ricee is the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist and Researcher at Diversity for Social Impact. Sue brings over 15 years of HR and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion consultation experience.
Sue's previous experience includes Microsoft, Target, and Kraft. Sue is also the manager of Diversity Leadership Directory