The meaning of diversity and inclusion can vary from person to person. During such an emotional time in our country, due to the racial injustices being faced by many Black Americans, difficult and important discussions about diversity and inclusion are taking place. The words diversity and inclusion are floating around more than ever.  Large corporations like AT&T are reflecting on past actions and policies to make a stand for equality that can make a real difference, all the way down to our local communities. Through diversity and inclusion, companies can show their acknowledgment and support for today’s social movements.

When I hear “diversity and inclusion” I envision a melting pot. All races, genders, shapes, and backgrounds equally respected and given equal opportunities. Diversity and inclusion is not solely about the Black community, it encompasses all minorities and underrepresented groups. However, the past few months have seen countless offenses and prejudicial biases specifically towards Black Americans.

Racial injustices affect Black Americans socially and professionally. That’s why it’s critical for companies to commit to diversity and inclusion, along with an intentional focus on recruiting Black employees. According to AT&T’s 2019 Annual Diversity and Inclusion Report, 18.3% of AT&T employees are Black. Compare that to the overall American population, which is 13.4% Black according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The mere fact that AT&T’s demographics include a higher percentage of Black Americans than the national average is telling. This company has prioritized diversity for frontline, management and executive-level leadership positions. While there is still a long road ahead, AT&T is paving the way for  diversity and inclusion in a professional setting.

I asked a few of my fellow interns what diversity and inclusion means to them and how it has impacted their internship experience. Here’s what they had to say:

What does Diversity and Inclusion mean to you?

“Diversity and inclusion to me is making sure as many possible groups represented in a company or other environment have an equal voice and equal representation. While there is still a long road ahead for AT&T’s D&I efforts, I can already see the impact it has made during my internship. I have been able to work with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds, which has led to an amazing intern experience.”

– Rodney
“Diversity and inclusion begins with love and selflessness. Understanding that we are not better than the next person based on power, wealth, or status, for we all share the same fate in the end. Many events that took place over the summer like DINE, Intern Office Hours, and Speak Easy kept me in constant communication with other interns from different backgrounds. I have gained more knowledge and appreciation for diversity and inclusion this summer because of networking with others and events that took place.”

– Derrick

How has diversity and inclusion positively impacted your internship experience?

“During my internship with AT&T, I’ve developed a sense of belonging and involvement with the company. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with such a diverse group of interns, full-time employees, and leaders who made it clear that there is a place for everyone no matter your background, ethnicity, and experience. It has given me comfort this summer to know that my ideas, beliefs, and values are respected and appreciated across the AT&T community.”

– Amadi

Small details, big impacts

As a Black woman, there have been many settings where I have not felt comfortable or welcome. It can be easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed in the corporate world, even when race isn’t a factor.

This is why my experience at AT&T has been so refreshing.

During my first year as an intern, I was nervous and intimidated. I wasn’t sure if I could relate to anyone. More importantly, I worried I would not see many people who looked like me. Not only was my first supervisor a Black woman, my first friend in the AT&T intern program was a Black male intern. These may seem like small details, but they made all the difference for me.

The diversity and inclusion within AT&T made me feel welcome, appreciated, and motivated to come back for a second summer internship!

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