SOM Creates Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
As many organizations across the country consider the role they play in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, leaders in the Binghamton University School of Management also think about what they can do.
“It’s become a critical issue for society, which means it’s become a critical issue for us,” says Dean Upinder Dhillon.
In an effort to formulate long-term strategic initiatives, SOM created a Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee comprised of faculty and staff. Chaired by Sara Reiter, accounting professorthe committee plans to address areas such as recruiting diverse students and faculty, enhancing the classroom experience, and training faculty and staff.
“This is an important issue, and we find that many employers who recruit our students are also doing a lot in this area,” says Reiter.
To kick things off, the committee hosted a number of virtual “cafe conversation” events during the 2020-2021 academic year to facilitate discussions with faculty and staff.
“The coffee conversations served as an introduction to issues of inclusive pedagogy and concerns about student identity, and resulted in very informative workshops,” says Reiter.
One event focused on how to increase inclusion in the classroom. Committee members presented practical ways to implement inclusive practices in the classroom. Subjects included:
- Create an accessible program
- Improving inclusion through course content
- Using Case Studies to Strengthen Diversity and Inclusiveness
- Embedding Diversity and Inclusion in Teaching Statistics
The committee also held two coffee chats in conjunction 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 (DEI) in the workplace, featuring research by Loreal Jiles and Shari Littan ’86 from IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants). their report, Diversifying Accountancy Talent in the United States: A Critical Imperative to Achieve Transformational Resultsexamines the diversity gap between the demographic backgrounds of senior executives and the rest of the accountancy profession.
The presentation was attended by a panel of diversity leaders and active members of DEI initiatives from leading accounting firms who discussed practical ways companies can close the diversity gap. Nearly 300 people took part, including many students.
“The student participation was truly remarkable,” says Reiter. “There were over 100 questions from students in the chat box for the webinar. Students are very interested and engaged in the topic of how workplaces can become more diverse and inclusive.”
While these events have 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 big project in terms of broadly identifying issues and proposing targeted actions,” she says. “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 key strategic priorities, a link that Dhillon says reinforces the school’s commitment.
“We don’t just want to invest in this area, we want to see progress. This means identifying the right metrics to measure the progress we are making,” he says. “We as a school are rising to the challenge and doing our part.”