Reaping Benefits of Diversity:
A Case study of an Outstanding Business School


By

Prof. G. Murali Krishna
Center Director
Dr. T. Thomas
Director (Academics)
IILM Business School
69, Nagarjuna Hills, Punjagutta, Hyderabad–500082
 


Today the world is a global village. This necessitates increasing interaction among people from diverse cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds. Everyone is now part of a worldwide economy with competition coming all 360 degrees. Hence, every type of organizations has to become more creative and open to change. Maximizing and capitalizing on workplace diversity has become the key to management effectiveness in these changing times.

Diversity is generally defined as acknowledging, understanding, accepting, valuing, and celebrating differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practice, and public assistance status (Esty, et al., 1995)(1).

According to an ezine article(2), diversity is beneficial to organizations in several ways like

* Improved access to new market segments
* Lowered absenteeism rates
* Reduced labour turnover
* Overcoming labour shortages
* Enhanced service levels and customer satisfaction
* Improved innovation and creativity amongst employees
* Improved motivation and efficiency of existing staff
* Helping to attract and retain highly talented people
* Enhanced corporate reputation
* Strengthening cultural values within the organization, and
* Avoiding  litigation costs.

In the words of  Josh Greenberg(3), President, Alpha Measure, Inc.  Boulder, Colorado, there are multiple benefits of diversity like

* Increased adaptability
* Broader service range
* Variety of viewpoints., and
* More effective execution.

The "business case for diversity", theorizes that in a global marketplace, a company that employs a diverse workforce (both men and women, people of many generations, people from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds etc.) is better able to understand the demographics of the marketplace it serves and is thus better equipped to thrive in that marketplace than a company that has a more limited range of employee demographics.

We at IILM Business School practice diversity in every aspect of Business Education. Let's understand how.

Diversity in Program:

We offer a dual program viz. an industry oriented PGP in Management and an MBA from a UGC recognized University. This helps students who want to pursue a career in industry as well as       those who want to pursue higher studies/employment in academics. We also offer dual specializations. Students are encouraged to select a combination of one 'quantitative' course like Finance, Production Management, Operations Research etc and a 'qualitative' course like Marketing, HRM etc. However there is no bar for a student to choose from the same group if he so desires.

Diversity in Admissions: 

We facilitate admissions using diverse portfolios like advertisement, telecalling, event management, counseling centers, alumni, word of mouth etc. In  addition, we accept  several entrance test s like CAT, MAT, XAT, ICET,  PGCET etc., to name a few. For the benefit of incoming students without any of the above, we conduct our own entrance tests, group discussion and interview so that no deserving student is deprived a chance for admission into this prestigious program.  We also make it a point to conduct counseling in the village level so that the best talents from the rural masses are added to the talent pool of future managers. 

Student facilitation:  We facilitate the students to get bank loans and different types of our own scholarships like merit scholarship, merit–cum means scholarship etc. There is good flexibility in payment options so that no student is left in the lurch because of his financial conditions.

Diversity in student demography: Our students span the whole of India from Kerala to Kashmir and Andhra to Arunachal Pradesh. Further we have graduates from all disciplines, Engineers, Post Graduates in Microbiology, Biochemistry etc. Students with and without work experience grace our class rooms.  The age group also varies from 20 to 35.  We have children/wards of farmers, teachers, professionals and entrepreneurs. We deliberately aim at a happy blend of students from diverse backgrounds.

Diversity in Internship Program: A notable aspect of our program is that students undertake project work/internship in all four semesters. We also allow students to go for the same even during class hours with special permission of Director/Faculty Members. The lost lessons are made up during the library/slack hours specially earmarked for the same. Further our project work is not limited to MNCs alone; all types of organizations – big and small, government and private, manufacturing and service, hospitals and hospitality, educational and entrepreneurial, urban and rural etc.  are covered.

Diversity in Faculty: No effort in reaping the benefits of diversity can be complete without having a diverse faculty. We have excellent double post graduates with commendable work experience and a few PhDs with national and international exposure. The age range of the faculty is from 25 to well over 65. There are full time faculty, adjunct faculty, consultants and corporate managers with more than 40 years' professional achievements. Some international consultants are continually associated with us to enrich value addition to the students from time to time. This is just like bringing the international exposure to the class room itself.  Occasionally students undertake international study tours along with faculty facilitators.  The purpose is simple – every faculty member offers his shoulder for the future manager to stand upon so that he is more competent to face the global challenges which the faculty may not have faced during his career. A good teacher is one who develops his students to be smarter than himself! In addition we also invite our alumni to share their experiences with our current students.

Diversity in Life skills Development: We have in-house faculty for personality development and life skills. We also offer two foreign languages to complement the international employability of our students. Students conduct and participate in national and international seminars, conferences etc. They also organize social service activities like blood donation, water camps, mentoring of school students etc. from time to time. Every student is offered free membership of at least two professional organizations.

Diversity in Final Placement:  We at IILM Business School offer 100% placement assistance to our students. However we also encourage them to find placement prospects by their own efforts. After all who will not feel proud to be makers of their own destiny! We also strongly recommend a student to find his initial placement in any discipline rather than  just in his area of specialization because a specialist knows more and more about less and less. However in today's global arena we need managers who know more and more about more and more. This is possible only by wider exposure and expertise.

Systems approach to diversity: It is well known that even if the individual subsystems of a car pass the QC tests, the performance of the car itself may be less than optimal. In our B-school we promote the philosophy of diversity from the very first day of the academic year. Students from heterogeneous backgrounds are grouped together for project work, case studies group discussions etc. For the first two weeks, it is a traumatic experience for all the participants. But in course of time "the old order changeth giving rise to the new!" through the process of unfreezing>change>refreezing. By the end of first semester they not only adapt to the change but adopt change in the real sense. Thus by putting the mission of diversity into practice IILM Business School is able to achieve "increased creativity, increased productivity, new attitudes, new language skills, global understanding, new processes, and new solutions to difficult problems" as given in Business Advantages of Diversity in the Workplace (4)

References:

1. Esty, Katharine, Richard Griffin, and Marcie Schorr-Hirsh (1995). Workplace diversity. A manager's guide to solving problems and turning diversity into a competitive advantage. Avon, MA: Adams Media Corporation.

2. http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Josh_Greenberg

3.http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/fundamental_rights/prog/studies_en.htm

4. http://www.ethnoconnect.com/html/articles_09.html
 


Prof. G. Murali Krishna
Center Director
Dr. T. Thomas
Director (Academics)
IILM Business School
69, Nagarjuna Hills, Punjagutta, Hyderabad–500082
 

Source: E-mail April 18, 2010

          

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