While many organizations across the country are considering the role they play in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, leaders at Binghamton University School of Management have also reflected on what they can do.
“It has become a critical issue for society, which means it has become a critical issue for us,” says Dean Upinder Dhillon.
In an effort to formulate long-term strategic initiatives, SOM has established a Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee made up of faculty and staff. Chaired by Sara Reiter, professor of accounting, the committee plans to address areas such as recruiting diverse students and faculty, improving the classroom experience, and training faculty and staff.
“This is a big issue, and we see a lot of employers who recruit our students doing a lot in this area as well,” says Reiter.
To kick off, the committee hosted a number of virtual ‘coffee conversation’ events during the 2020-21 academic year to facilitate discussions with faculty and staff.
“The coffee conversations served as an introduction to issues of inclusive pedagogy and student identity issues, and resulted in some very informative workshops,” Reiter said.
One event focused on how to increase inclusion in the classroom. Committee members presented practical ways to implement inclusive classroom practices. Topics included:
- Create an accessible program
- Improve inclusion through classroom content
- Using case studies to improve diversity and inclusion
- Integrating diversity and inclusion in statistics education
The committee also hosted two coffee-conversations in collaboration with the University’s Q Center, which provides resources to help foster an inclusive campus environment that supports all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expression. .
In April, the committee hosted a webinar that explored ways to implement diversity, equity and inclusion (DCI) in the workplace, featuring research by Loreal Jiles and Shari Littan ’86 of the IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants). Their report, Diversifying American Accounting Talent: A Critical Imperative to Achieve Transformational Results, examines the diversity gap between the demographic background of senior management ranks and the rest of the accounting profession.
The presentation was attended by a panel of diversity leaders and active members of DCI initiatives from major accounting firms, who discussed practical ways for companies to bridge the diversity gap. Almost 300 people attended, many of them students.
“The student participation has been truly remarkable,” says Reiter. “There were over 100 student questions in the webinar chat box. Students are very interested and engaged in the question of how workplaces can become more diverse and inclusive.
While these events helped raise awareness in the SOM community, Reiter says the next step for the committee is to formulate a strategic plan with measurable results.
“This is a great project in terms of overall identification of the issues and proposal of targeted actions,” she said. “We started by collecting data on how students perceive the SOM experience which we hope can guide our efforts. “
According to Reiter, the proposed initiatives will be linked to SOM’s top strategic priorities, a connection that Dhillon says strengthens the school’s engagement.
“We don’t just want to invest in this area, we want to see progress. It means identifying the right metrics to measure the progress we’re making, ”he says. “We, as a school, are rising to the challenge and doing our part. “