Call to Action: Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Business Schools

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Monday, May 3, 2021
CEO and co-founder of MindTribes, Div Pillay, suggests three ways business schools can achieve greater impact in their diversity and inclusion efforts.
Recorded virtually in February 2021.


Div Pillay: [0:15] My first, I reckon, call to action for business schools is to not make diversity and inclusion a tiny mini topic in an elective unit in a business course but rather link it in to strategic planning. It is a strategic effort and should be a foundational element of any business course.

[0:47] That positioning of diversity and inclusion topics in a core pathway in a business school showcases how important it is. That's my first recommendation is to not hide it somewhere in a tiny unit where it's optional for diversity and inclusion to be learned and understood. For business leaders, it needs to be part of the core curriculum. That's my first call out.

[1:16] Other suggestions, if we were to assume that leaders are learning it as part of the core curriculum, is that we need to teach leaders to ask good questions about data. There's a heavy focus on data and analytics and evidence based approaches in diversity and inclusion, but what we really need is leaders to ask good questions about why certain pieces of data are being collected.

[1:47] The reason I say this is that we can push on the quantitative data so the counts of diversity is within employee demographics.

[1:59] Ignoring the qualitative data, which tells the heart and the lived experience of employees, is where the real rich change elements come into play. Ignoring that collection of qualitative data doesn't affect that much change, which tells a full picture. You can lose that element of stories and narratives, which are really important to the change effort.

[2:34] Asking for and making time to take account of the qualitative data, and that's not just in an engagement survey once a year but continuous collection of qualitative data through employee resource groups or any other mechanism, is really important, so teaching leaders how to ask effective questions about data analytics and why we're collecting certain pieces of data.

[2:57] Also to see the D&I strategy as integral to the business strategy and how to build a good integrated D&I and business strategy and business purpose that's values align together.

[3:09] The third one is teaching leaders how to become an effective ally and advocate for the diversity and inclusion message.

[3:18] I've heard so many times before that the CEO and vice presidents need to talk the right language and back D&I efforts. That's great, but that needs to be continuously translated into all other business conversations, and that's been a really effective advocate and ally.

[3:43] Those words have been bandied around for a long, long time, but when you look at what are the competencies to be an effective ally and advocate, how do you actually push for change and realize change with more diversity inclusion efforts being embedded in the business is a whole nother realm of competency and capacity building.

[4:06] That needs a strong effort within a learning curriculum because we're finding that there's a lower competency for leaders with regards to knowing what to do next.

[4:19] They got the first phase of I need to back it because I'm the senior leader. The second phase, about what actually do I do long term with it, is then relegated to the head of people in cultural diversity and inclusion, which gets lost again.

[4:34] That's my advice and my recommendation for a business school. Of course, come and talk to me because that's just a short list of my ideas. There's a lot more where that came from.

Recorded virtually in February 2021.

The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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