Aisha Adams Creates Diversity and Equity Institute at Lenoir-Rhyne University

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( ENSPIRE She Did That ) The Black Woman Entrepreneur Aims To Change Workplace and Community Dynamics With Her Educational Program, the LREDI

ENSPIRE Contributor: Elizabeth Duchan

Aisha Adams is turning her vision of long term societal change into a reality in her current residence of Asheville, N.C. The Birmingham, AL native has recently partnered with Lenoir-Rhyne University to create an online educational platform that teaches professionals how to foster inclusivity and equity in their workplaces. The entrepreneur hopes that the Lenoir-Rhyne Equity and Diversity Institute will make strides in building better communities in Asheville and across the country.

As a black woman personally affected by gender inequalities, racism, and wage gaps, Adams’s initiative is one she deems a necessity. The entrepreneur describes how her long journey of navigating the work industry and facing inherent disadvantages made her “keenly aware of how [her] differences have not always been seen as assets.” Determined to create better opportunities for not only herself but her colleagues in similar positions. Adams set out to design a training program that would educate mass audiences about this prevalent issue and “develop gentle disruptors who knew how to use their influence to create change.”

The LREDI is a 30-hour-long certification program targeted towards C-Level executives, HR professionals, and organization workers. The curricular of the various courses all seek to equip participants with the strategies, practices, and resources needed to promote equal opportunities for all genders and races within the workplace and greater community. At the core of the program is the goal to enable equity for women in leadership, establish resources for financial support, and encourage people of all backgrounds to seek greater opportunities in workplaces.

The program is unique because of its partnership with Lenoir-Rhyne since most corporate inclusivity programs are not associated with or accepted by universities. Adams underwent a lengthy process of establishing a relationship with Lenoir-Rhyne and cultivating a curriculum that was flexible during the pandemic while continuing to provide higher education. Classes just recently started on Sept. 18th, with over 100 professionals signed up for the course.

Adams and her organization, the Aisha Adams Media Group, also began hosting the “Folding Chair” series last week, where panelists of diverse backgrounds have opportunities to speak on their experiences applying for work and the challenges they face as minorities within their industries. 

Adams has high hopes for the success of the LREDI and her organization. “We are seeing equity advocates fully step into their role as change-makers,” she said. “These advocates know systems change is slow, but they are in for the long haul.” Above all, Adams expresses that she is most excited about the friendships and connections fostered by the programs and the future of inclusivity in communities across the world.

For more information on the Lenoir-Rhyne Equity and Diversity Institute, please visit www.lr.edu/lredi.

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