New Major Focuses on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Bentley responds to growing importance of DEI in the workplace
Chief Diversity Officer. Vice President of Culture. Inclusion Specialist. The titles may differ, but all of these positions reflect the corporate world’s growing realization that creating an inclusive workplace culture isn’t just a moral imperative, but a business necessity.
According to LinkedIn, diversity and inclusion roles have increased 71% globally over the last five years, with median salaries ranging from $84,000 to $126,000. The racial justice movement has further accelerated demand, and industry experts predict continued exponential growth well into the future.
To help students meet this burgeoning business need, Bentley is now offering a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) major for undergraduates. Beginning July 1, students can choose from two pathways: a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a focus on critical and theoretical approaches to social justice, and a Bachelor of Science degree, which emphasizes the importance of DEI in organizational strategy.
Both options will pair core business courses, such as Managing Diversity in the Workplace and Gender and the Law, and core arts and sciences courses, including Cross-Cultural Communication and Race and Racism in U.S. History, with electives spanning multiple disciplines. From English (Literature of the Holocaust) and Global Studies (Urban Politics and Policy) to Modern Languages (Multicultural Spanish America) and Philosophy (Disability, Values and Society), students will have the flexibility to choose classes that best align with their interests and needs. All will conclude their studies with a capstone research project or internship, where they can apply concepts they’ve learned to real-world work environments.
The faculty members who developed the major — Sociology professors Anne Rawls and Gary David, and Senior Lecturer in Law Kiana Pierre-Louis— view it as a natural progression in Bentley’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion education, which includes a Gender Studies minor, offered since 1991; an integrated double major, Liberal Studies: Diversity and Society, introduced after 2009; corporate workshops and executive education programs led by the Center for Women and Business, established in 2011; and a graduate certificate in Inclusive and Responsible Leadership, which debuted last spring.
“Bentley is definitely ahead of the curve on this,” notes Pierre-Louis. “There aren’t many business schools — if any — offering an undergraduate major specifically in DEI.”
Students who choose the major, she says, will develop a more holistic understanding of the world and how to navigate it professionally. A firm grounding in theories and methodologies, coupled with “an understanding of how DEI issues are woven into the fabric of our daily lives,” will position graduates to become key agents for strategic innovation and organizational health as they enter the corporate world.
“DEI is not just about ethical standards or moral positioning,” David adds. “As more and more studies have shown, it also makes good business sense. For companies to be creative, innovative and competitive, DEI perspectives need to be integrated into every part of the organization.”