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Why Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Matters More than Ever: Perspective from Brianna Briggs

Wake Forest SPS Digital Marketing Master’s student Brianna Briggs shares her thoughts on why diversity, equity, and inclusion is a top priority – in the classroom and in business.

It’s hard for people to grasp how it feels to be the only person in the room that looks like you when they’ve never experienced it. In my three years in corporate America, I’ve had that experience multiple times. I work in a predominantly white space; I am part of the 7% of black people that work in marketing according to the 2022 diversity report from the Association of National Advertisers.  My experience has compelled me to be a part of the change to ensure the growth of diversity in my field.

For the past year, I’ve been a student representative on the Wake Forest SPS Inclusive Excellence Committee to ignite that change. My solution to bring more diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to our programs is to make it a requirement in the curriculum. One way this could look is requiring that at least one learning module have readings, works, or case studies from diverse thought leaders with individuals from a range of ethnic, gender, and racial backgrounds, as well as social identities represented.

It’s a domino effect: having a diverse curriculum will promote diverse thought leadership, and in turn, hopefully create more diverse teams as people are exposed to others from different backgrounds that possess leadership abilities. DEI is going to be crucial for the continued development of a more positive and transformative society.

Another step toward making our programs more inclusive would be through examining the Community Cultural Wealth theory (CCWT) as defined in the study “Enacting a diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice emphasis in graduate and professional studies.” It expands on the life skills that students of color possess in higher education that not only increase their leadership capabilities but should be integrated with traditional leadership structures.

The six areas of capital include:

1. Linguistic Capital: This is the ability to code-switch and speak different languages that in the simplest terms help storytelling and memorization.

2. Familial Capital. These are the learned traditions from family and community members that help to influence students later in life. For example, someone might be more inclined to volunteer or host a community event at work because it’s a learned trait.

3. Social Capital. This is the use of networks for career growth or resources. Personally, my pastor has written scholarship recommendations for me, and I have written recommendations for the youth in our church programs.

4. Aspirational Capital. This is when you continue to hope and dream even if there are people in your family or community that are struggling in current conditions or situations.

5. Resistant Capital. This is the ability to keep traditions going in the face of oppression.

6. Navigational Capital. This is the ability to be resilient through institutions that were not made for your success in the first place. For example, dealing with microaggressions or discrimination in the classroom or workplace.

CCWT shines a light on not only what students may be going through in a course, but what they may continue to face as they enter into the workforce. For educational and organizational leaders to be aware of this will allow for individual uniqueness to be appreciated. With that appreciation, we’re able to understand each other better.

Just like the classroom, leadership in the workplace is dependent on empowering individuals. Leaders must find ways to balance conflict and feedback while maintaining an environment that feels safe for all people. DEI encompasses the foundational elements mentioned to build effective leadership.

I always enjoy bringing a different perspective into the classroom. Intentionally, many of my projects and discussions are done on Black businesses to bring a different perspective to the class and highlight companies that my peers may not have heard of, such as Ami Colé founded by Diarrha N’Diaye-Mbaye and Topicals founded by Olamide Olowe.

My hope is that one day, when I step into the office, I see others who look like me, and we are able to work together in a collaborative, inclusive environment. To get to that point, DEI must be at the forefront in our schools, our offices, and our everyday interactions with one another.

Wake Forest online Digital Marketing student Brianna Briggs



Brianna Briggs is a second-year student in Wake Forest SPS’s Digital Marketing Master’s Program; she is an experienced social media and influencer marketing strategist with a background in social media strategy, influencer marketing, and content creation. She holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of South Carolina.

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