FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — President Joe Biden made history through Wednesday’s inauguration, and his No. 2 did, too. A local workplace diversity expert said Vice President Kamala Harris’ swearing in means a new tomorrow for women and people of color everywhere.
“The first thought was, ‘woman,'” said Dr. Claretha Hughes, a University of Arkansas professor, recalling her thoughts watching the inauguration. “Finally, a woman at the second-highest office.”
Hughes is a workplace expert, who’s done extensive research on diversity intelligence—understanding the knowledge needed to keep protected workers from being taken advantage of. This includes employees with minority backgrounds.
“Leaders have to be diversity intelligent to be able to see every individual in the workplace and not marginalize anyone,” Hughes said.
Harris took the oath of office Wednesday, and Hughes said it validated the work other black women have done to get to that point.
“[It took] hard work, perseverance, dedication,” Hughes said.
Harris and Biden proved during debates they don’t always agree, specifically when jousting about bussing and other race-based topics. Hughes said the fact they can work together shows growth necessary for success.
“That’s what we want in this country and in the workplace is a collaboration that may not always agree,” Hughes said. “You can disagree without being disagreeable.”
Hughes said it’ll take changing hearts and societal growth to move past some of the white supremacist ideology that remains, but she thinks it’s possible.
“Everybody can contribute,” Hughes said.
Hughes said Harris stands for many of the things the country can be.
“She represents excellence in what she does,” Hughes said.