Walking our Talk: Fostering Diversity and Inclusion at Johnson
Dear Alumni and Friends:
At Johnson, we understand the importance and the power of diversity. We know that innovation and creativity blossom when you bring together a group of people who are diverse in myriad ways, including, but not limited, to race, gender, sexual orientation, and culture. Diversity comprises many kinds of groupings, taking in people with different skills, training, and areas of expertise.
Citigroup executive Elinor Hoover expressed a sentiment common to many industry leaders today when she delivered the keynote address at Johnson’s Diversity Symposium Oct. 18: “Innovation increases with diverse populations, and in financial services we need innovators from a variety of backgrounds.”
In a global culture and economy that relies and thrives on innovation, the need for creativity is vital to every industry. At Johnson, our brand promise is that “Johnson graduates know how to harness the collective strength of others to create extraordinary results.” Creating a diverse environment among and for our student body, and fostering a culture of inclusion that promotes free exchanges of perceptions and ideas, are both important to fulfilling that promise.
We are proud that Johnson was the first top-tier business school to create an office dedicated to supporting women and under-represented groups in 1999: the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (then called the Office for Minorities and Women in Business). And we are proud of our record. Thirty-four percent of our students in our Two-Year MBA Class of 2015 are minorities, thirty percent are women, and 28 percent are international, hailing from 31 different countries. This year, Johnson earned an A+ in Diversity from Diversity MBA Prep, an online community that brings together women and minorities interested in pursuing their MBA degrees.
We make a point of honoring diversity in the accomplishments of our alumni. De Verges Booker Jones, MBA ’74, was honored with the 2013 Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award. Be sure to read his profile here. Luis Carlos Sarmiento Jr., MBA ’85, was honored with the 2013 Distinguished Latino Alumni Award. Be sure to read about him next month in our magazine, Cornell Enterprise.
Johnson hosts and coordinates a number of events that are not only designed to attract diverse students but, once here, foster a culture of inclusion among students. Each October, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) hosts Johnson Means Business (JMB), a weekend designed to offer selected diverse applicants the opportunity to experience life at Johnson, including our annual Diversity Symposium. This year, we welcomed more than 50 diverse prospective students, who were housed during their visit by current students. Nsombi Ricketts, director of ODI, reports that her office has received overwhelmingly positive feedback about our community and MBA program. Each August, orientation for new students includes a hands-on approach to diversity training.
At Johnson we are determined to increase the ranks of our women students. ODI has had great success with its annual Johnson Women in Business (JWiB) event, which offers selected women applicants an opportunity to come to campus to engage with students, faculty, staff, and each other. They also receive an application fee waiver to apply to Johnson. Held in conjunction with the Women’s Leadership Conference Nov. 7 and 8, this year’s events were once again tremendously successful, garnering an enthusiastic response from the 50 prospective women students who participated in both events.
Starting in October, ODI began hosting “Community Conversations,” a new initiative to foster inclusion in our community by engaging members of the Johnson community in thoughtful dialogue with one another about various topics of interest. The first conversation, held in October, focused on women in business. November’s community conversation centered on the business of disabilities. In these exchanges, ODI aims to enable participants to broaden their own perspectives, discover collective meaning, and build relationships with one another.
Once enrolled, Johnson is dedicated to ensuring the success of our students, including facilitating the exposure vital to that success. For example, Lakshmi Bhojraj, the Breazzano Family Executive Director of the Parker Center for Investment Research, launched a program focused on women students pursuing careers in investing four years ago: The 4th Annual Women in Investing (WIN) Conference was held in Boston, Nov. 21 and 22 and attracted approximately 60 women from top MBA programs around the country (and London) as well as about 75 representatives from nine major investment management firms.
Finally, I am delighted to announce a new effort focused on women: Johnson’s High Tech Club and Women's Management Council plan to launch a new event, the Johnson Women in Technology (JWiT) Conference, which will be held on March 21, 2014 in New York City.
These are just a few examples of the many ways Johnson actively pursues and fosters diversity and inclusion, and continually strives for new ways to engage diverse populations throughout our programs. We are proud of it and we hope you are, too.
With warm regards,
Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean