My name is Lizzie Duong, and I work in collaboration with UCI’s ANTrepreneur Center and Sustainability Resource Center. In my work, I prepare students and startups to identify creative, forward-thinking solutions for implementing sustainable initiatives with all the proper resources to proceed with their ideas in a more environmentally conscious manner.
That being said, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see sustainability intersect with various industries that aren’t typically talked about. I recently returned from a trip to New York City to attend The D.E. Shaw Group’s Latitude Fellowship, and I learned so much about the importance of diversity within the workplace and its interconnectedness with sustainability progress.
As a unique investment management firm that specializes in financial services and technology, D.E. Shaw provided many opportunities for employees to explore their individual talents. In any given room, there were people from all walks of life spanning racial backgrounds, financial conditions, educational majors, schools, religions, sexualities, and more. As a second-generation Asian American, I felt empowered because this inclusive environment shattered the stereotype of what a financial firm has generally looked like in the past. This is precisely what sustainability stands for: enough for everyone, forever.
After talking with a few employees and the executive team, I recognized that a majority of the employees came to the firm with little to no financial experience—in fact, their educational backgrounds were in comparative literature, psychology, gender studies, and more. Almost everyone belonged to a diversity affinity group within the firm where comfortable conversations about renewable energies and venture studio ideas could take place.
Once corporations can establish a diverse employee base, they can start focusing on other important conversations like sustainability. It’s evident that the firm culture I experienced was full of intellectual curiosity and a willingness to learn more. Whether you’re interested in joining a firm’s venture team or creating your own startup, these actions begin with diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The ANTrepreneur Center is a home base and safe space for UCI students to start their entrepreneurial journeys. As part of the UCI Division of Undergraduate Education, all undergraduate students have access to our services, workshops, coaching sessions, and programs for free. If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to come up with a business idea or take your business idea to the next level, stop by the ANTrepreneur Center today! You can also meet with one of our start-up coaches or book an appointment via CampusGroups.
By Lizzie Duong