In order to advance fair and equal business practices, graduates of business education – and future leaders – must represent demographics as diverse as their future customers and communities. But, challenges remain to develop cultures that are inclusive across race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, social class and nationality.
A session at the AMBA & BGA Global Conference 2021 brought together speakers representing the winning business schools in the ‘Best Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative’ category of the AMBA & BGA Excellence Awards 2021. They shared examples of their strategies to nurture cultures defined by diversity and equality in their schools and beyond.
Celia de Anca, Deputy Dean for Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion at IE Business School, outlined the LGBT+@Work initiative, which delves into marginalised populations and new perspectives. De Anca also shared her thoughts on collaboration and conversation, in terms of achieving female equality.
Imperial College Business School, meanwhile, has recently launched a year-long equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) course entitled ‘Working in Diverse Organisations’. Jöel McConnell, the school’s Executive Director of Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions, explained that this offers EDI learnings and toolkits to help students to become diverse-aware employees and leaders, able to optimise differences and create more effective organisations. He added that this is one of the first steps in Imperial College Business School’s efforts to embrace of diversity in all its forms.
Nicolas McGuigan, Director of Equity, Diversity and Social Inclusion at Monash Business School, announced its new course, specifically geared towards indigenous Australian people. The Master of Indigenous Business Leadership is a cross-disciplinary programme, complemented by a tailored offering in design thinking, together with units in law and public policy.
McGuigan also talked about his school’s Queering Accounting diversity initiative. Through numerous educational, research, and industry activities, Queering Accounting is said to have enhanced the school’s culture of dignity and respect, enriching the experience of staff and students and helping to foster social justice, with the input of key stakeholders.
During the session, panellists were able to share granular insights and examples. However, given the numerous challenges to achieving genuine diversity in business education, they were keen to leave the audience with three important takeaways to help guide discussions moving forward, acknowledging that translating intellectual debates into corporate policy is difficult to get right.
1. It is important to have discussions about belonging and individuality when thinking about diversity and inclusion.
2. Belonging is about both institutional belonging (and how to foster a sense of it) and belonging to groups that may be identified by protected characteristics (such as age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, gender reassignment, relationship status, pregnancy and maternity, and religion and belief).
3. There should be an ongoing intellectual and philosophical debate within universities about equality, diversity and inclusion. These discussions should help inform the policies that public- and private-sector organisations put into place.
Speakers: Celia de Anca, Deputy Dean for Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion, IE Business School, Spain
Jöel McConnell, Executive Director of Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions, Imperial College Business School, UK
Nicolas McGuigan, Director of Equity, Diversity and Social Inclusion, Monash Business School, Australia
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