Lehigh Named to President’s Circle of CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion

Lehigh President John D. Simon will be representing the university on the President’s Circle of CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

The group’s commitment, according to its website, is “driven by a realization that addressing diversity and inclusion is not a competitive issue, but a societal issue.” Noting that CEOs recognize that change within their organizations starts with them, the group gathered more than 300 CEOs of the world’s leading companies and business organizations with the goal of leveraging “individual and collective voices to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

General organizational members include leaders from American Express, AT&T, Bank of America, CBS, Dow Chemical, DuPont, General Mills, Humana, Kellogg, KPMG, Major League Baseball, MasterCard, Mercedes Benz, Morgan Stanley, PayPal, Pfizer, PGA, Staples, Target, Under Amour, UPS and Xerox, among others.

As a member of the President’s Circle steering committee, Simon joins a select group of fewer than 15 academic institutions and associations that will help tailor and extend the spirit of CEO Action through new commitments related to diversity and inclusion. The working group will focus on designing a framework to engage administration, faculty and students with the CEO Action pledge commitments, and bring CEO Action to their respective institutions.

Simon recently participated in a CEO Action Summit, where best practices and learnings were presented and additional commitments developed.

“I’m delighted to be a part of this group and to learn from the work colleagues across the country are doing to improve campus communities and business organizations through effective diversity and inclusion efforts,” Simon said. “A fundamental expectation at Lehigh is a campus environment that values every one of its members and celebrates the richness each brings. I look forward to learning more about ways to advance our progress in this arena and continue to expand our efforts.”

Advancing Diversity At Lehigh

The naming of Simon to the CEO Action President’s Circle is the latest in a series of diversity advancements at Lehigh.

In February 2017, Lehigh named Donald A. Outing, the former chief diversity officer at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, as the university’s first vice president for equity and community. In this role, Outing leads Lehigh in developing and implementing a comprehensive plan to enhance university efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion.

Last month, Professor George White, longtime professor of educational leadership at Lehigh, was named as the first managing director for the university’s Student Access and Success Program. The new university-wide position was created to champion Lehigh’s efforts to expand access to the university for first generation and lower-income students. These efforts include Lehigh’s participation in the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance between the nation’s top-performing colleges and universities that aims to increase the number of high-achieving, low-income students who graduate from top-tier institutions; and a partnership with the Posse Foundation. That group is dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for inner-city high school students in the Bay Area of California.

Earlier, Lehigh announced a commitment to meet 100 percent of every student’s demonstrated financial need, and launched a number of initiatives to make a Lehigh education accessible to a broader spectrum of students.

In March 2017, Lehigh hosted the first Summit for Inclusive Excellence, which was organized to bring the campus community together with industry and healthcare executives and educational leaders to engage in building a compassionate and culturally sensitive Lehigh community. The keynote speaker at that event was Timothy F. Ryan, U.S. Chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who spoke about his personal experiences and urged his audience to appreciate the value of listening and understanding during these critical conversations around diversity.

Story by Linda Harbrecht

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