New Michigan Ross Course Explores Power and Identity Dynamics in Business

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A new course at Michigan Ross is giving students the tools, tactics, and knowledge needed to become inclusive and equitable leaders.

Power and Identity in Business (BA 742), which was piloted this spring, consisted of a small group of mostly second-year MBAs who took away unforgettable lessons that will guide them throughout their careers.

“This subject is incredibly relevant to each of us given that we will be working for someone, leading a team, and/or starting our own companies,” said Ava Damri, MBA ‘18. “Given the current sociopolitical climate, I wanted a forum to discuss these topics through a business lens and learn concrete strategies as an employee on how to tackle diversity, equity, and inclusion in a workplace environment.”

Students explored strategies for respectful communication, case studies in which power and diversity issues played a role, and many readings, including excerpts from “Power, Privilege, and Difference” by Allan Johnson, a U-M PhD graduate.

“I was surprised about how much I learned,” said Nikhil Wadhavkar, MAcc ‘18. “Diversity and identity is not something that only impacts those who are underprivileged, minorities, or women. It impacts everyone.”

The course was launched by lead faculty member Brad Killaly, Associate Dean of FTMBA and Global Programs, Ariana Almas, MBA ‘18, VP of DEI for the MBA Council; and Taryn Petryk, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.  The course, driven by student interest and shaped with student involvement, came to life over the course of a year. It was inspired by a similar course offered at the U-M College of Engineering.

“As the future leaders of the business world, it is important we understand how power and identity plays a role in our daily work,” said Nikole Vargas, MBA ‘18. “Having an opportunity to explore this in a classroom setting is a great start.”

Learn more about Diversity at Michigan Ross