The advantages of the Wisconsin MBA are the agility and autonomy with which students can lead change. Allyship in Action is an interactive workshop for students, led by students, to act as an introduction to allyship and equip the student body with resources and examples, so they are trusted to lead in the classroom and beyond. The idea for this workshop came from my desire to dig deeper into specific topics within DEI at the school. Allyship was a perfect fit because it empowers people, fosters an inclusive environment, and is a skill everyone needs to learn.
Once I solidified the topic, I needed to educate myself and build out how the workshop could look. Using a template for designing effective D&I programming from my introduction to HR class, I focused on the purpose, targets, and ways to measure impact. As I met experts in the field through my HR Center’s applied learning sessions or individuals simply passionate about D&I work, I set up 1:1 time to get their feedback. I soon developed drafts of the run of show, content deck, and resource guide.
When I was satisfied with the content and flow, I set up a meeting with the MBA Program Office to make my pitch. Once they were onboard to help with logistics, timing, and food, I engaged our student leaders to form a committee. We met for 50 minutes for 4 weeks to elevate the content, share perspectives on allyship, and discuss marketing strategies. We identified a few key roles that each of us would fill during the training, including facilitators, actors, event runners, and photographers. With an all-hands-on-deck approach, the finalized workshop was an hour and a half and included Kahoot!, slides on effective allyship, a workplace skit, small and large group discussions, and a closing activity.
The impact was measured in a couple of ways. The first is by giving visibility to students who need allies. The closing activity asked participants to stand if they have experienced discrimination at work or school due to their gender identity, race, appearance, place of origin, etc. Then we asked participants to stand if they had been an ally, and again, if they wish they had an ally. This sparked valuable conversations among my peers and WSB (Wisconsin School of Business) leadership. So much so, the MBA Program Office will be using the workshop in their new student orientation and reorientation next year. The biggest takeaway is showing that discrimination happens, and to people we see every day. We then need to ask ourselves, “How can I get better at showing up for others?”