The OSUIT Diversity & Inclusion Committee will resume its Diversity Learning Series virtually this month by welcoming Dr. Jacob Frias, Jr. to speak about creating a culture of diversity and taking an active role to promote inclusive values during these challenging times.
Dr. Frias, vice president at L Brands, the parent company to Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret, will speak Thursday, Aug. 13, at 3 p.m. via Zoom. This is a free event available to all OSUIT students, faculty and staff. Those interested in attending can RSVP on the calendar event to receive a Zoom link.
Frias will speak about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
"The world we live in is becoming more diverse," said Dr. Frias. "Diversity is also all-inclusive. Meaning our backgrounds and upbringing is just as important as diversity of thought. To be part of a high performing team, we must learn to work in and adapt to the diverse teams we will be part of, and some will ultimately lead. Diversity in the workplace is not just about who we are but what organizations are becoming that will lead us into the future."
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Frias grew up in Lawton and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his doctorate of pharmacy. His current area of responsibility at L Brands is $1.5 billion in revenue with over 10 thousand associates. Before joining L Brands, Dr. Frias spent 13 years with Walmart. One of his proudest accomplishments changed health care with the rollout of the $4 prescription program.
"OSUIT's Culinary Arts instructor, Chef Aaron Ware, has a longstanding connection with Dr. Jacob Frias. This has allowed us the access needed to invite someone at his level," said Lisa Currington, co-chair of the OSUIT Diversity & Inclusion Committee. "Dr. Frias will bring us his perspective as a high-level executive for a nationally known company. He has been able to make a difference in hiring diverse teams and taking a leadership role in bringing about an inclusive workplace."
With more than 20 years of leadership experience, Frias is an executive known for leading with values and a high sense of curiosity and humility and creating diverse and high performing teams. His guiding principles at home and in his career have always been grounded in keeping his priorities in faith, family, health, and work in this order.
Dana Sterling, co-chair of the OSUIT Diversity & Inclusion Committee, said the goal of this presentation is for students to understand diversity in the workplace better.
"We hope that students understand they will be interacting with people of diverse backgrounds in the workplace," said Sterling. "They can use this as an opportunity to obtain tools to start changing their perceptions and move forward."
"Students are our future," said Dr. Frias. "Understanding diversity and inclusion, how to approach it individually and organizationally will be something that every student has or will experience in their career. Beginning the journey and conversation now will have a long-lasting impact as they graduate and continue to experience it personally and in the workforce."
Dr. Frias's goal is for students to understand the importance of diversity and how to move the conversation from diversity to inclusion.
"I hope this inspires them to begin thinking about actions they can take individually and organizationally and become an ally to their peers," he said.
The committee is planning for the Diversity Learning Series to be a once a month event via Zoom. They anticipate the series will continue through the fall and spring semesters, at some point resuming in-person events.
The next speaker, Dr. Christine Pappas, J.D., Ph.D.., is scheduled for Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. Dr. Pappas is a professor of Political Science and chair of the Department of Politics, Law & Society at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. Her topic will cover the changing use of pronouns in an environment where transgender, gender-fluid and agender people are taking a more prominent place in society and how to support them.