Higher education institutions all over the country are focused on diversity initiatives on college campuses. Diversity in education, particularly in B-Schools, improves “Intellectual engagement, citizenship, and cultural engagement. It also helps in improving critical thinking and problem-solving.
However, diversity without inclusion has no meaning. Inclusivity means having a sense of belongingness, but … the basis of that is feeling safe and comfortable.” “Everyone’s happy. There’s no discrimination. There’s no tension between anyone.”
Student voice data can add tremendous value to conversations about improving school climate from an equity and inclusion lens. The research ‘Diversity and Inclusion in B-schools from SIES School of Business Studies gives a glimpse into how students across the country rate their experiences of Diversity and inclusion in their B- school
Hence it is critical to understand both the challenges and the opportunities of business school’s diversity and inclusion, to bring a sense of belongingness among the students. B-Schools must ensure equitable educational access for an increasingly diverse population.
The main aim was to understand whether the institute had a diversity environment and what inclusion programs were conducted by them. The study was conducted through a structured questionnaire which was administered to more than 200 students in around 20 top b-schools.
- The survey respondents consisted of 49% female students and the rest were male students. This showed that the institution had ensured to have a diversity in terms of gender.
- MBA is a blend of students from diverse educational backgrounds. This was found from the survey which showed that out of the total respondents 44.6% were from science, 49% students were from commerce, 1.9% were from arts background and remaining from others.
- The age of the students who were pursuing MBA varied from 21-30 years. The average age of the respondents was 24 years.
- Out of 200, only 3 girl students who were married had joined the B-school. This also highlighted the fact that the current management education either did not prefer married applicants as a full time student or they themselves didn’t prefer joining the B-schools after marriage.
- 71.3% respondents feel that their institutions have adopted different inclusion strategies for differently abled students. They had various facilities like separate stairs, toilets and also seating arrangements for them. There were still 28.7% students who felt that there was no inclusion strategy adopted even though the AICTE regulations clearly demand these facilities for disabled students.
- All the students anonymously echoed one strong advantage of diversity that it was improving productivity and team spirit.
- All the students felt that diversity not only brings cohesiveness in the team but also increases productivity. It also helps to build cultural integration among the students.
Our project focussed more on inclusion strategies by the colleges and the students perspective on this.
- 93% colleges conduct cultural activities to encourage participation of students from different cultural backgrounds. This showed that the colleges attempt to build a cultural unity.
- While taking festivals into consideration various colleges celebrate most of the festivals like Diwali, Christmas, Eid, Ganesh Chaturthi, Holi, Navratri, Parsi New Year, Lohri, Onam/Pongal etc. This showcased that the institutes developed this inclusion program to ensure cultural unity. However, there were very few students who mentioned that there was a need for organizing prayer room for girls during the time of festivals like Ramzan.
- 82.2% colleges educate their students about Diversity and Inclusion. This ensured that the students are taught about how to tackle diversity even on an organizational level.
- 93% of students feel that their college supports upward communication. This focuses on the point that we can be more open and free about what and how we want to communicate to the higher authorities. This can help build trust.
- It was found that 83.4% students were open to the idea of LGBTQ community. This showed that the students were broad minded. However we also found that none of the institutions conducted seminars about the same.
- When it comes to group activities, 63.7% of the students felt that there was gender equality.
- When asked about recommending their own college to others by keeping diversity and inclusion in picture, it was observed that 80% of the students did recommend their college to others. Still we can see that around 20% of the students felt that their college could have had better inclusion strategies.
Actions taken by the college to promote diversity and inclusion: -
- Colleges are coming up with a women empowerment cell, inclusion council and other support groups, to encourage students in the college and to support inclusion.
- During the admission process, the institutes form a batch of diverse students through a reservation process to ensure that the students from diverse parts of the society are included.
- Irrespective of the culture, religion and interest of the students, the Annual gathering, inter college fest, multicultural clubs, and group activities ensure that the students represent their college.
All these ensured that the colleges helped to maintain the diverse environment and created a feeling of inclusion in the minds of most students.
There are some other suggestions that can be considered like to adjust college timings to accommodate students with jobs to attend college. There can be a frequent periodic meet scheduled with the dean to foster a strong relationship, coordination, fairness and equitable decision making.
In recent times, most of the institutions and students are aware of diversity and are willing or have already adopted various measures for inclusion. The more people feel included in a group, the more they will be engaged towards the work assigned. Thus, inclusion plays a very important role to shape the overall performance of the people.
Respecting people for who and what they are can be a simple step that can be taken by every individual in order to ensure that all feel included. Thus, it is rightly said that ‘Diversity is having a seat at the tables, Inclusion is having a voice and Belonging is having that voice to be heard’- Liz Fosslien