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The Johnson Graduate School of Management is hosting a week of events addressing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

April 10, 2018

Business School Aims to Increase Diversity, Inclusion in Industry

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The business college will be hosting faculty and guest panels this week through Friday for Ally Week, a series of events fostering conversation about diversity and inclusion for MBA students and Johnson faculty.

Ally Week, which is co-sponsored by the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management’s Student Council, Diversity Council and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is aiming to promote an inclusive atmosphere on campus and in the workplace.

“What we’re trying to do this week is to get everyone in the school involved and be aware of what it means to be an ally, especially when you’re in the workplace,” Christina Chan ’10, a current MBA student and communications chair for the Graduate Student Council, told The Sun.

On Wednesday, Ally Week will host a lunch to discuss allyship in industry and academia with Prof. Bill Schmidt, operations, technology and information management, Prof. Soo Kim M.S. ’09, marketing, Prof. Drew Pascarella MBA ’01, finance, and Prof. Randy Allen ’68, management.

According to Symone Williams grad, Graduate Student Council co-president, the discussion will focus on “faculty sharing their experiences serving as allies / experiencing allyship in both professional and academic settings” as well as will answer students’ questions about their own role as allies.

Williams, who is also moderating Wednesday’s event, outlined her definition of allyship in an email to The Sun.

“Allyship describes moments where people who operate in spaces of power/privilege use their voice to advocate on behalf of marginalized groups,” Williams said. “Advocacy doesn’t always look like standing up and speaking for marginalized groups; in many ways it’s about finding ways to listen more and speak less, and to partner with oppressed groups to impact change.”

Jessica Krom, assistant director for diversity and inclusion at the business school, stressed the importance of adding faculty voices to the conversation about allyship.

“Allyship identity looks different for so many people and to bring our faculty into that conversation provides this really robust and rich context,” Krom told The Sun.

In addition to fostering conversation amongst students and faculty, Krom highlighted the real-world impact of diversity and why it should matter to businesses and organizations.

“There’s a business case for diversity. If you are really putting your money behind diversity then you’re really helping with the efficiency of your organization or your company,” Krom said. “We’re assisting with the provision of tools in order for them to be the best leaders that they can be in industry.”

On Thursday, a student panel will answer what Chan called “genuine anonymous questions” submitted by students and faculty. Written over the course of the week by anonymous contributors, the questions have the potential to touch on deeply personal experiences from panelists.

This year’s Ally Week follows a similar event from two years ago, and sponsors are “hoping that this year will lead to more in future years,” according to Chan.