Joyce Russell, the Helen and William O’Toole Dean at Villanova School of Business, shares the various ways business schools can, and should, contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their schools as well as in the broader community.
Joyce Russell: [0:15] I think business schools have a role to play in the broader community as it relates to diversity, equity, inclusion.
[0:21] First off, we have faculty who generally have backgrounds in this area who are able to train and educate, so putting on workshops. I personally have done a number of workshops, because I'm an industrial organizational psychologist.
[0:34] Being able to put on workshops or training programs to help in the community, enabling other people from the community to attend those types of workshops—I know myself and I have other colleagues that do the same thing, where we'll go to companies and we'll speak on these kinds of topics. I think that's really important.
[0:51] We can play a role in terms of helping to educate. I think we can play another role in terms of research with the community. For example, at Villanova, we're partnering with Special Olympics on a whole research stream of understanding intellectual abilities and disabilities.
[1:08] We can play a role in terms of training. We can play a role in terms of research progress that we're making, and also just by if we're really educating our students the way we should be, then our students are going to have an impact on the communities in terms of the companies that they work for.
[1:24] Whether they work for nonprofits or if they work for for-profit organizations, the impact that they'll have in the community can be felt as well.
[1:33] I think we can play a very large role in terms of influencing the conversation and progress in diversity, equity, inclusion.
[1:41] I think it's very important to have good data when you're trying to figure out what the school should do as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion, because if you don't know where you are, then it's really hard to make progress.
[1:55] I would say data as it relates to first just looking at what the percentage of various groups are within your faculty, within your staff, within your student populations—undergrads, grads—and then break it out from a number of different ways, what the promotion rates are, what the data looks like for applicant pools as you're bringing in more students, faculty, or staff.
[2:18] I think you always have to look at data. Then looking at data as it relates to an inclusive climate.
[2:24] We do a lot of survey data. We're at the university level and at the school level where we're trying to see, how do people feel, whether those are students, faculty, or staff, in terms of the climate? Is it a climate where people feel a sense of belongingness regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.?
[2:58] A great question about the role that not only we play with industry but how industry plays a role with us. I think employers are very savvy—they're very progressive, for the most part—about diversity, equity, inclusion.
[3:10] Sometimes they're further ahead than academia, and they will often come to us and say, "OK, these are the kinds of things that we're doing in our organizations. Can you assist?"
[3:21] Also, they'll come to us and they'll challenge us.
[3:23] They'll say, and I think they're doing this for all business schools -- they're saying, "Look, we need a much more diverse population of students that can come work for us, not only students who look different, but also students who can work with very diverse individuals"—that could be not only US but globally—"and that can work effectively in teams."
[3:46] I think they do a great job, employers, about really challenging us in academia. Our job, of course, is to listen and to develop curriculum that meets their needs as well as really ensure that our students are well-prepared for future jobs and for future jobs with people not like themselves, for the most part.
[4:09] I know at Villanova we have a lot of employer advisory councils, and they've been fantastic at really giving us good insight in terms of what we need to do to better prepare students for the future and for companies.
Filmed February 2020 at AACSB's Deans Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.