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Bentley on Bloomberg: The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion
In today’s complex global economy, it’s imperative that companies embrace diversity and inclusion. And not just for moral or social reasons, for financial ones too. Study after study confirms that companies with a diverse workforce and inclusive policies outperform ones without.
Bentley President Gloria Larson, along with guest experts, joined Bloomberg Radio’s Carol Massar and Cory Johnson, to talk about how college and universities are preparing graduates to navigate diverse environments as well as what corporations are doing to attract and retain a more diverse workforce and better serve diverse customers. Here are excerpts from the show with links to each interview.
Commitment to diversity and inclusion must come from the top
Just this past year McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. To move the needle there needs to be a commitment from executive leadership not only to increase diversity, but make workplaces more inclusive for all people. I am proud to be among the handful of university presidents this year to sign the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, a pledge but forth by PwC, where Bentley joins more than 175 companies across the country who have committed to advancing more diverse and inclusive workplaces.
- Gloria Larson, president, Bentley University. Listen to Gloria's entire interview.
Colleges and universities must teach students how to engage in difficult conversations
There is a sociologist named Allan Johnson who says that when interacting with others who are different it isn’t what we don’t know that frightens us, but what we THINK we know. Many of our biases are based on misinformation and misunderstanding. When students are in college, it is the ideal, low-risk environment for exploring those things we THINK we know.. For most of us, being able to effectively engage in difficult conversations requires a skill set we need to develop and practice andit is our job as a university to help students build these skills before they join the workplace. At Bentley, we create multiple touch points for students to build skills around diversity inclusion including in the classroom, the residence halls, and co-curricular activities.
- Katie Lampley, director of diversity and inclusion, Bentley University. Listen to Katie's entire interview.
Companies’ diversity and inclusion programs and policies must always be evolving
One of the biggest challenges that companies are facing in building a diverse and inclusive workforce is that there is still so much to do. For decades, companies have been having conversations on why diversity and inclusion is important for business, and implementing programs to try and move the needle. But overall, they haven’t seen the results they wanted. Companies cannot continue to approach diversity and inclusion in the same way they’ve been doing for years and expect different results. At Liberty, we decided early on that we were going to constantly evolve our programs and take a step to see where we wanted to improve efforts.
- Dawn Frazier-Bohnert, senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, Liberty Mutual. Listen to Dawn's entire interview.
Companies should take a systemic approach
Many companies ask why we do not have more people of color in business moving up the ranks. Well, in many cases it is due to the lack of supply. At KMPG we believe that we must approach this systemically to create meaningful change. If we don’t systemically change what’s happening in the sourcing of talent, we are always going to be frustrated about not having enough diversity in the workforce. I was responsible for recruiting for KPMG for many years and was very frustrated to not find students of color studying business. We started the PhD Project to encourage African, Hispanic and Native American students to earn their doctorate and become business school professors. Since the program began, we have more than quadrupled the number of minority faculty in business schools. As a result of having more minority faculty in the classroom there has been an increase in the number of minority students studying business.
- Bernie Milano, president, KPMG Foundation. Listen to Bernie's entire interview.
Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.