It’s been a little over a year since ISM added diversity and inclusion (DI) to its strategic plan. I must admit that, at the beginning of this initiative, I thought I was in way over my head. It’s one thing to have values and ideals, and a whole other thing to make an impact on an organization’s operations. All the research affirmed that without leadership buy-in, new initiatives fail, and I strongly believe that having ISM’s executive team on board and adding DI to the institution’s strategic plan has made all the difference. 

For one, we’ve been keeping DI as a standing item on all our meeting agendas, which reminds everyone on the team that diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but an institutional priority. In an attempt to keep our student body diverse, we have expanded our marketing strategies to try to reach underrepresented populations and recruit from various parts of the world. We also continue to communicate on DI initiatives to our key stakeholders like you in the form of newsletters and our upcoming second edition of the DI magazine Perspectives. What we strive for is to not only say we are diverse and inclusive but show it. By recruiting diverse students, we are promising that ISM is a place that fosters an inclusive environment where all learners are respected and encouraged to succeed. And following through on that promise starts with all of us. 

As a higher education institution, our biggest focus in terms of diversity and inclusion is student support. This academic year, you’ll see a few new faces in our faculty. As per the institutional diversity and inclusion plan, the Academic Department followed new recruitment protocols to try to attract diverse candidates. First, it discussed openings with the DI Recruitment Committee and then reached out to the DI Committee for referrals and suggestions. Then, it created a job posting that explicitly included DI wording (as suggested in research) to widen the scope. The change in our way of operating to embody our priority of attracting a diverse pool of candidates is a true testament to the progress we are making. I am confident that the new faculty we hired will meet our students’ expectations for representation and quality education. 

Another initiative that provides extra support to our students is the mentorship program. All current students are eligible to be paired with an alumnus based on industry, geographical location, and/or degree program. We currently have over 20 ongoing mentorship pairs with over 30 alumni volunteers. Though finding the time to connect is proving to be a challenge for some, those who are dedicated to building a rapport with their mentors are benefiting from having someone to hold them accountable and motivate them to graduate. 

Diversity and inclusion is something we work on every day to better serve our students, faculty, alumni, and staff. It takes a lot of time, but I’m confident that the steps we’re implementing will make for a better experience for everyone. We have to persevere in our methods and in our efforts to make diversity and inclusion part of our everyday thinking and operations. Once it’s in an organization’s lifeblood, the rest comes naturally.

This article originally appeared in ISM's 2019 Annual Newsletter.

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