Rethinking how we teach diversity, equity and inclusion

Zoe Kinias
Zoe Kinias, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Academic Director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative

For business educators, the optimal approach for teaching diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is not always clear.

“It’s more challenging than teaching equations, which I’ve also done,” says Professor Zoe Kinias. “The subject matter is emotionally charged for most people. So, what can educators do to minimise this anxiety and reactance? How can we create safe spaces for people to be open and honest and really move forward?”

Thanks to Kinias’ leadership, INSEAD is starting to find answers. The school teamed up with Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School to launch the inaugural DEI Academic Conference in New York City. The highly interactive conference, co-sponsored by the Dean’s Fund, convened 15 scholars from top-tier business schools to co-develop new and effective methods for teaching DEI.

Using a workshop-style approach, the conference participants explored ways to integrate DEI research into the classroom; shared personal experiences with teaching and managing diversity; offered practical exercises for executives and students; and explored methods for troubleshooting difficult situations. To build on this learning, two more conferences are scheduled over the next two years.

“It’s very exciting to see business schools come together in this way," says Kinias. "We are part of something that is bigger than ourselves — a larger web of people who share the same values and want to work towards the common mission of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.”

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