Binnu Palta Hill, chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Wisconsin School of Business, is the first guest on Poets & Quants’ new six-part podcast series, The Diversity Dimension. In conversation with publisher John Byrne, Hill discusses various dimensions of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy in higher education and reiterates that DEI is an essential skill that can and should be taught.
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that the next generation of leaders can operate in a diverse world and know how to use those skills to make better business decisions,” Hill says on the podcast.
At WSB, DEI is woven into the curriculum so that students engage in a range of discussions on this complex topic and can become active participants in creating a more equitable society. Increasingly, businesses are seeking these skills in potential employees because it’s become central to success.
“Businesses that leverage DEI practices are more successful,” says Hill. “DEI is going to become a core business function. It already is.”
WSB was one of the first business schools to employ a DEI officer. Through deep connections with corporate partners at the forefront of inclusive leadership, WSB adopted DEI principles into its curriculum early on and has strategically enhanced it over several years.
In addition to embedding DEI into the curriculum, WSB’s commitment to DEI is illustrated by the recent opening of a dedicated Multicultural Center—an inclusive space for students to gather, converse, and find community. Among the first centers of its kind to be established at a business school, it is one of many facets of WSB’s comprehensive approach to DEI. That comprehensive approach is based on research in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and business that focuses on the relationship between inclusion and diversity in order to create cultural change.
“When we think about culture, at the core of it is this idea of belonging. Belonging is tied to psychological safety. If I don’t feel psychologically safe, I can’t contribute,” says Hill. “When people feel like they don’t belong, research has indicated that it can jeopardize the success of the team.”
“We need to recognize our natural biases in order to make progress,” adds Hill. “A focus on creating a culture of inclusion is as important as diversity, sometimes maybe more. Inclusion is the process, and diversity is the outcome.”
Listen to the full podcast: “What Research Tells Us About The Future Of DEI”