Is Your Campus Environment Inclusive? Building an inclusive business school culture
Originally posted on Tuesday, August 3 | By Ernst & Young LLP
In order for students to succeed in a global workforce, they must experience a truly inclusive culture on campus along with developing business skills.
As the business world faces global demographic change and shifts into emerging markets, it is imperative that business schools embrace diversity and build an inclusive campus culture. Research shows that diverse viewpoints generate lively debate that can create new ideas. College campuses provide an ideal environment for young people to gain invaluable exposure to new ideas.
“Theoretically, one should be able to make mistakes and learn about cultures in the academic environment,” proposes Wake Forest University Dean of Business Steve Reinemund, who formerly served as the CEO of PepsiCo. “But you can’t do that in the business world. So developing a classroom and campus that represents the marketplace is absolutely essential for the future of leadership in business.”
A recent Ernst & Young white paper, The new global mindset: driving innovation through diverse perspectives, reveals that cultural diversity offers the flexibility and creativity we need to recreate the global economy for the 21st century. The paper states that in the evolution of leadership, diversity is not just defined by race or gender; it encompasses the whole of human experience — age, culture, education, personality, skills and life experiences. We face many challenging forces, such as economic and social upheavals, major demographic shifts and globalization. To emerge stronger, we need to meet the increasing demands for diversity from the global marketplace.
Diversity in the University: Top of the Dean’s List
As workforce demographics change dramatically across the globe, universities are charged with helping to bridge the gap between labor supply and demand. Dean of Wake Forest University’s Babcock and Calloway business schools and former CEO of PepsiCo Steve Reinemund provides a dual perspective in a discussion with Ernst & Young LLP’s Ken Bouyer, Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting.
Ken Bouyer: Given your background as former CEO of PepsiCo, you have a clear understanding of the skills needed to succeed in a global workforce. How are you shaping the business schools at Wake Forest to better prepare all students to work in an inclusive environment?
Steve Reinemund: I don’t think you can develop an inclusive culture until you actually have enough diversity to make it relevant. Because to talk about inclusive behavior when you don’t have the numbers is a discussion that’s fruitless. My experience at both PepsiCo and here is that you’ve got to get the numbers first.
Ken Bouyer: What changes are you making to build those numbers?
Steve Reinemund: In our case, there are several aspects. One is students, which is easiest because they come and go. You have a new class every year, so you can make changes in the composition. The second is in the staff and faculty, which is obviously more challenging because they’re permanent employees. We decided to take it program by program and make radical changes so, over time, all the programs were changed. The first one we chose was our fifth-year MA program [Master of Arts in Management] designed for Liberal Arts undergraduates with no prior work experience. In this year’s MA class, we have 90 students and 45% are from diverse backgrounds. To attract those students, we raised a fair amount of money for scholarships and made that known in the community. As for faculty, we had one African-American faculty member and no Hispanic faculty members. Last year, we hired two Hispanic faculty members, and we’re hoping to hire an African-American professor full time.
Ken Bouyer: From what I understand, your Master of Accountancy program has also increased significantly in diversity over the last few years.
Steve Reinemund: Yes. We’ve done this through funding from major firms, which has helped dramatically to get the scholarships to attract those students. We bring students on campus to experience what Wake Forest is as a way to recruit them. This summer, we’re going to start bringing in a class of promising high school students, in terms of test scores and GPAs, who may or may not have indicated an interest in business to give them an orientation to what business is all about,
Ken Bouyer: If you had 10 priorities to accomplish in a year within the business school, where does diversity and inclusiveness sit on your list?
Steve Reinemund: It’s my number one priority. And you can’t have a ton of priorities. In order to make a difference, you really have to pick a few and drive them home. For all of our programs and faculty, that is the number one priority. Putting that priority high up is how we’ve been able to hire the faculty that we’ve had. We can’t expect that we’re going to have a lot of minorities applying to come here since we don’t have a lot of minorities now.
Ken Bouyer: To what do you attribute the increase in your ability to source diverse faculty to Wake Forest?
Steve Reinemund: The faculty members that we’ve recently hired were actually all surfaced by existing faculty members. They went out and pursued them because we said we wanted to change the way we recruited. We didn’t want to just announce it and wait for people to apply. We challenged them to go into their respective fields and find the best people, and they did. I give them all the credit. This was not a mandate, but it was a passionate plea for the school’s future.
Ken Bouyer: What were the key elements to getting the faculty to understand the importance of diversity and inclusiveness to the school?
Steve Reinemund: I think it’s a combination of things, but I’m not an academic. So my approach to this comes from the marketplace. And the marketplace is looking for students (both majority and minority) who are prepared to lead in a multicultural environment. If we’re not doing that, we’re doing a disservice to every graduate that we put out of this school. And I think that resonated with the faculty. They have a lot of pride in what we do here and the students we graduate. I have been enormously impressed with our faculty this year in that area.
Wake Forest University Business Dean Steve Reinemund outlines several responsibilities business schools should take to help develop students into successful leaders:
• Have a well-tuned moral compass to make the right decisions. Truly understanding where respect for the individual plays its
role in diversity is the foundation for building an inclusive culture. That’s one of many pieces of the moral compass.
• Create a broad worldview. Many of our students come here without any experience outside of the US or in other cultures.
And we’re not going to take trips with our students around the world, but we want them to experience as much as they can in this environment to allow them to see the world in the broader sense.
• Help students figure out what they’re best suited to do. We want to make sure we help them get to the right spot.
• Specifically address diversity and inclusiveness. Help people understand it, not just on an intellectual level, but also on an experiential level.
The full report, Is your campus environment inclusive? is available at www.ey.com.