Written by guest blogger Iram Shah, SVP Customer Transformation
Today, I am honored to receive the Chancellor Excellence Award and speak at the East-West University scholarship dinner to address a topic that is at the forefront of the university’s objectives, and one that is especially important to me – the role of education and leadership for social, cultural and regional diversity.
The mission of East-West University “Equal educational opportunity for all racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups. Service to humankind with a global, multi-cultural and future-oriented perspective” very well aligns with Schneider Electric’s values of diversity and sustainability. At Schneider, we want to create an inclusive culture in which all forms of diversity are seen as a real value for the company. We want everyone on our planet to have access to safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable energy…. that’s what Life is On.
Our world is transforming, and is more interconnected than ever. That means systemic problems in education, government, religion and the economy are no longer siloed and can be compounded by technology and social media. To address this, we need to understand these issues and build a bigger tolerance of one another’s beliefs and perceptions. It starts with how we build our leaders of tomorrow.
As a global organization operating in nearly 100 countries, Schneider Electric knows about diversity and inclusion (D&I). The passion for D&I comes from our CEO and is permeated through all of its leaders. What our leaders have in common is a strong educational background that has cultivated diverse thought and knowledge. This tells me that if we want to have a true impact on the world, we need to take that knowledge and not only practice it, but distribute it with others.
In developed economies, we have made great strides in improving our education system, but it’s still far from perfect. In fact, more than 61 million children are not in school today. The U.S. was once a global leader in producing a talent pool of college graduates, and it is now losing ground to emerging economies. In 1990, we ranked first in the world in 4-year degrees; today, we rank 12.
Additionally, the U.S. suffers from college attainment gap as high school graduates from wealthy families are almost certain to continue onto higher education, while only half of our graduates in the middle class and poorest quarter of families attend college.
Education is the equalizer that breaks down walls and builds bridges. That is why I feel honored to be sharing my own experiences in front of East-West University students, staff and friends. The organization is a leader in helping students attain an education that prepares them to embrace the world as productive and moral leaders. I look forward to sharing more with them about the role education plays in breaking down the barriers in our culture and society.
About the Author
Ms. Shah is currently Schneider Electric’s Senior Vice President, Customer Transformation. She has 25 years of experience working in Fortune 500 companies to help transform cultures and drive change.