Last week, Sanger and over 120 MBA students, 8 executive coaches, and 16 faculty and staff wrapped up our pilot diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leadership community, Leading Inclusive Teams (LIT). The community was a six-week program for full-time MBAs, that ran alongside the students’ MAP experience, and provided tools to help lead equitable and inclusive teams and organizations. The program is an outcome of Sanger’s DEI Strategic Plan, which was recently published on our website and is constantly evolving with feedback from our stakeholders.
During the program, participants learned about the bonuses and challenges of diversity work, examined identity dynamics including implicit biases, and gained tools to make DEI strategic change within organizations. Students met weekly in a small group of five to six peers to reflect on their DEI journeys, practice new skills, and were supported in this work by a professional coach. Sanger also held three live workshops throughout the six weeks, where we engaged in breakouts to process and solidify learning while supporting ways for students to take meaningful action on DEI at Ross. As a final capstone to the program, each participant created a DEI action plan that was shared with group members to facilitate accountability.
Gene Mage, one of our executive coaches who also serves as managing director for custom programs for Michigan Ross Executive Education, reflected on his experience: “I looked forward each week to going deep into the content to prepare for each session, and found myself going through cycles of reflection and intentional experimentation as a result. As a coach, I enjoyed getting to know the students and helping them learn skills for leading inclusive team meetings. As a learner, I experienced my own journey growing as an inclusive leader and considering how to coach others on their journeys.”
As students worked on their MAP projects, they had the opportunity to integrate the skills and tools they were learning in their LIT teams right away. Some of the topics covered included self-awareness of personal identities, identifying privilege and implicit bias, and learning how to take action as an active ally and DEI change advocate.
Chikodi Etike, MBA ’22, shared more about her experience with LIT: “As a Nigerian, going to study in the United States for the first time, I was worried about how to ‘fit in’ and get people to listen to me. I had been looking forward to testing my communication and strategic thinking skills with my MAP team. When I saw the email from Sanger about LIT, I immediately loved the vision and shared my interest to participate with my team. We eventually all signed up and it was an amazing experience. We were able to explore vulnerability in a way that we never thought possible. We also learned a lot about biases and inclusivity that it made our team a lot more open to ideas and more efficient in our team deliverables.”
Moving forward, Sanger will continue to innovate the program based on the goals in our Strategic Plan and feedback received. We plan to offer LIT again next academic year, with the hope of expanding the offering to more student groups in the future. If you would like to contribute your own feedback to our program or to our Strategic Plan, we’d love to hear it! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our contact form with your thoughts to make our center more inclusive to serve all of our communities.