Third Annual Michigan Ross Diversity Week Encouraged Students to ‘Act Now’ on DEI Efforts
In early February, the Ross School of Business held its third annual Diversity Week. Virtual events and activities were designed to inspire and equip the Michigan Ross community to take action to build a more inclusive world.
Members of the Full-Time MBA Program’s DEI Committee organize Diversity Week each year, in collaboration with other Ross clubs and centers, to recognize and celebrate diversity at Ross and beyond. Events are geared toward Full-Time MBA students; however, many events were open to prospective students and others in the Ross community due to the virtual nature of this year’s conference.
Besides being the first virtual Diversity Week, this year’s events were unique because the programming was geared toward taking action, said Whitney Pollard, MBA ’22, incoming Ross MBA Council president, and Mariel Sena, MBA ’21, MBA Council vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“This year’s theme was ‘Act Now,’ as we hoped to encourage the Ross community to continue learning about DEI issues — in part from the individual experiences of their diverse community members — and provide the tools to put their learnings into ACTion to create change,” said Pollard and Sena.
This year’s events included a keynote from DEI leader and Michigan Ross alum Tamika Curry Smith; Women X, a storytelling event organized by Michigan Business Women to showcase the breadth of culture and experiences that women have at Ross; East Meets West, a TEDx-style panel hosted by the Asian American Business Association about what it means to be Asian in America; and a Courageous Conversations dinner.
“The event that I was most excited for was the Courageous Conversations dinner because we have had limited in-person interactions this year due to COVID-19, and we hoped that this dinner would allow people to connect on a deeper level even in the virtual environment,” said Pollard. “We wanted classmates to come together to learn how to have uncomfortable conversations, to learn, to grow, and to leave inspired to act.”
In addition, Full-Time MBA students participated in a town hall with Scott DeRue, Edward J. Frey Dean at Michigan Ross, to discuss the progress that has been made since the Black Business Student Association’s statement in 2020 calling for the Ross community to take active steps toward breaking down the racist systems in society.
Building a more inclusive community at Michigan Ross and beyond
Pollard and Sena said events like Diversity Week are important to hold at Michigan Ross and other business schools.
There are a number of ways MBA students can engage in DEI activities and programs at Ross. Students may join an affinity club as a member or ally to help shepherd in more diverse programming; advocate in partnership with, or on behalf of, marginalized groups in their section; and join the DEI Committee.