Bottom Line for Diversity Conference teaches business students inclusion

The conference educated students on the opportunities and challenges of diversity in the workplace.

Businesses around the world are beginning to notice the significant advantage to having diversity in the workplace. Ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35 percent, and gender-diverse companies outperform by 15 percent, according to a study done by global management consulting firm McKinsey.

To equip Trulaske College of Business students in the increasing demand for diversity, the Diverse Student Association and the Diversity Committee of the Trulaske College of Business presented the Bottom Line for Diversity Conference from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 12 in the Reynolds Alumni Center.

“The goal of the conference is to educate students on diversity and inclusion,” DSA adviser Jenny Chism said. “It also helps them understand from a company's perspective on why it is important, and how it can enhance their own lives.”

DSA started this conference within the College of Business in 2012. Because of company sponsorship, the conference is free for all business students. An application was required to attend, but this year, everyone who applied was accepted, Chism said.

The conference schedule was set up to include diversity and inclusion training, keynote speakers and a networking fair with company recruiters. This year, the keynote speakers were John Brase, vice president of Procter & Gamble’s Family Care Upstream Innovation, and Ryan Kist, Americas inclusiveness campus consultant with Ernst & Young LLP.

Brase is an MU graduate who has experience in a variety of areas from launching Pampers Easy Ups to managing P&G’s top brands such as Charmin and Puffs. He also won the Trulaske College of Business Recent Alumni Achievement Award in 2005.

Kist has 10 years of recruiting and management experience. He works with several universities across the country consulting with students, faculty and administration on diversity. He codevelops and assists with EY’s conference strategies and external clients.

Junior Casey Frost enjoyed the stories shared by the speakers and how the audience was able to share stories as well.

“I thought the keynote speakers were very knowledgeable and interacted with the audience well,” Frost said. “As a whole I learned more about global diversity and how it applies in a business setting.”

The last two hours of the conference were dedicated to a networking fair with company recruiters. The fair gave students the chance to learn more about the companies and their diversity initiatives, Chism said. The diversity initiatives may include focuses on inclusive environments, workplace diversity, employee interest groups, community involvement and recruitment materials.

Junior Natalie Pace took full advantage of the opportunity.

“I left having completed some really effective networking, and with a much better understanding of the diversity and inclusivity that those companies strive for and train to have,” Pace said. “I learned about how to take stereotype threats and unconscious bias and avoid them in actual business environments.”

Chism said the conference as a whole is a good opportunity for students to educate themselves on the advantages and challenges of diversity in the workplace.

“Students always report back that they got a lot out of the conference, and had fun with it,” Chism said.

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