“The DiversityFIRST™ Certification Program turned my world upside down and I LOVE IT” – Gregg Falcon

After 25 years of service in leadership positions at colleges and universities, I felt confident that the National Diversity Council’s DiversityFIRST™ Certification Program would expand my knowledge of leading diverse populations. Each DiversityFIRST™ certification class is unique. My classmates had experience in a variety of industries including transportation, healthcare, energy, education, banking, insurance, retail and the service industry. They came from many areas of the business including the executive suite, human resources, diversity and inclusion, and operations. A broad range of faculty presented concepts and strategies in their areas of expertise. My classroom experience was enhanced by interaction with different classmates for several case studies and a presentation of a group project.

The first core objective of the certification program is to “recognize diversity and inclusion as drivers of business success and employee engagement in the 21st century workplace.” It is critical for higher education leaders to understand the unique traits of their multigenerational workforce and student populations in order to develop strategic plans to lead their institutions. The certification training provided me a more thorough understanding of topics including inclusive recruiting, employee resource groups, and the components of effective D&I training. Students graduating from the program are designated as a National Diversity Council Certified Diversity Professional (NDCCDP), and they will have the ability to develop necessary plans that will assist companies in any industry.

Of the six living generations in the United States, the program emphasizes the middle four generations as they represent the bulk of today’s workforce. By providing a comprehensive look into interacting with and managing the various generational groups, the program prepares graduates to lead their companies in a variety of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Educational institutions go to great lengths preparing their faculty to understand the characteristics and motivators of the younger generations. The one-week long curriculum includes a comprehensive review of the key demographic group of millennials and how to effectively interact with this important generational group.

In higher education, many tenured professors are represented by the Traditionalist and Boomer generations and, in many cases, they educate the Gen X and Y generations for careers in the workforce. Research shows a growing trend of college professors continuing to teach well into their 70s or 80s. There is incredible value in preparing college professors to interact with students outside their generational group. The DiversityFIRST™ Certification Program provided me the skills needed to develop strategies for collegiate faculty that encourages the building of enhanced rapport with their students. The career value of the training we received was more valuable than we expected.

The DiversityFIRST™ Certification Program provided me with the confidence to transition into a new career with the senior living industry. In the higher education industry, one goal was to better equip senior faculty to effectively train students of the Gen X and Y generations. My new career in the senior living industry has this concept turned upside down, and this provides me with a new opportunity to utilize the skills I acquired from the certification program. As the executive director of a luxury independent living retirement community, I develop diversity awareness training plans to educate employees as they serve our residents that are from the Traditional and Boomer generations. Our independent living residents are typically between the ages of 70 and 90, and this year we have two residents that will reach age 100. By training our employees to identify the unique core values and motivators of our residents, we are building a more successful community for all stakeholders. In this new industry, I often refer to the DiversityFIRST™ certification manual on various topics such as the components of diversity awareness, who should receive dedicated training, and best practices in D&I training.

The National Diversity Council Certified Diversity Professional certification program has provided me with the tools to succeed in two completely different industries. The training materials are extensive and program instructors provide engaging materials while facilitating open discussions in a case study format. If you are ready to propel your career in the right direction within the diversity and inclusion field, I encourage you to learn more about this program at http://diversitycertificationprogram.org/ or contact Cecilia Orellana-Rojas at [email protected] or Dejoron T. Campbell at [email protected].

About the Author

Gregg Falcon is a National Diversity Council Certified Diversity Professional (NDCCDP) and the executive director of Watercrest at Mansfield, a luxury senior independent living community in Mansfield, Texas. The parent company of Watercrest at Mansfield is Integrated Senior Living, an innovative and dynamic senior housing management company based in Southlake, Texas.

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