Tag: inclusion

aggressions in the workplace during a student-led diversity and inclusion summit.
Students brainstorming in the D&I Summit's micro aggression session.

Students brainstorming in the D&I Summit’s micro aggression session.

“Do you need sponsorship to work here?”

“Why don’t you use your ‘black voice’ when you speak?”

“We needed to hire some women.”

These were just a few of the dozen off-putting statements—microaggressions—Olin students recalled hearing in their lifetimes. The litany of indignities launched a session on coping with microaggressions, one component in Friday’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit, organized by students from Phi Gamma Nu, Delta Sigma Pi, and Alpha Kappa Psi.

“Inclusion is a duty to act in order to celebrate diversity,” said Lexi Jackson, an Olin sophomore and codirector of the summit.

The afternoon event began with a panel discussion featuring D&I leaders at several top St. Louis-area companies, including Edward Jones, Pfizer, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Express Scripts, and US Bank.

Charlyn Moss, an Olin sophomore and codirector of the event, moderated the panel discussion. She asked panelists about their biggest personal challenge while engaging in diversity and inclusion work.

“I thought some of the battles I fought in college my kids wouldn’t have to be fighting,” said Susan Stith, vice president, diversity, inclusion and corporate giving for Express Scripts. “And now my kids say, ‘What did you do? Why are we still fighting these same battles 30 and 40 years later?’ That’s a hard place to be in.”

Each panelist expressed gratitude for working in a corporate environment that valued and nurtured its commitment to an inclusive workforce. Arvetta Powell, director of diversity and associate experience at Build-A-Bear, spoke of being recruited from Walmart to create a D&I infrastructure at her company.

“To come and be given a blank canvas was a great opportunity. To create the diversity platform from the ground up has been wonderful,” Powell said.

From left: Adita Akbani (Pfizer); Kim Hawkins (US Bank); Susan Stith (Express Scripts); Emily Pitts (Edward Jones); Arvetta Powell (Build-A-Bear); Charlyn Moss (Olin).

Panelists Adita Akbani, Kim Hawkins, Susan Stith, Emily Pitts, Arvetta Powell, and moderator Charlyn Moss.

The summit included a session on women in technology as well as the interactive program devoted to coping with microaggressions, where session leader Keisha Mabry, an adjunct lecturer at WashU, introduced the “SPEAK” technique:

Seek to Understand

“You have to get your mindset in that place. They’re saying this because it’s some truth of theirs. When we change our mindset, it allows information to be processed differently. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be angry. I’m saying you have to be in a mindset to seek to understand. When you’re not, you’ll have an impulse response.”

Process and Practice

“Everyone should have someone they can turn to as a sounding board to help you think strategically and logically.” Figure out a scenario when you can talk to the person and tell them what you heard.

Expose and Educate

“It can be so hard. This is when you actually speak. Oftentimes we feel like it’s not our responsibility to educate.” If you don’t want to educate, you can work with someone who can play that role for you. “If you state a problem, you better be ready to state a solution and figure out the resources you need to implement the solution.”

Ask Questions

“The asking of questions does not come until there is trust and rapport. Once that foundation is built, that’s when the trust is built.”

Keep at It

Create opportunities. The goal is to change the system, not the person. “This is exhausting.”

Don’t forget to register for Washington University’s Day of Discovery & Dialogue 2018 — Staying Resilient in Challenging Times, running Tuesday evening on the Medical Campus and Wednesday on the Danforth Campus.

Diversity of thought, diversity of people should be the fabric of the institution. If we think about what we want in the end, we have to start with the end in mind. If we want to represent ourselves as diverse and inclusive, we need to think about our brand. What does the Olin brand currently say? Despite what we say or believe, does it truly say diversity and inclusion?

Therefore, if we think about the end in mind, we must start today with increasing our number of diverse and underrepresented minority candidates. Simply increasing numbers doesn’t necessarily mean diversity, but when you increase the number of people with diverse talents and backgrounds with the focus on inclusion, that will bring about a change.

I believe we are setting the course for this path by admitting the largest class of Consortium* students in 50 years, pictured above.

A strong applicant pool and Olin’s commitment to diversity and inclusion have paved the way for admitting 18 talented students who bring with them a variety of backgrounds, thoughts, and ideas.

Olin has demonstrated a continued commitment to diversity and inclusion by increasing the number of diverse candidates. While this is a milestone, it is not the end of our journey towards a diverse and inclusive community.

This blog post was contributed by Jacqueline Slack Carter, Graduate Programs Registrar & Student Affairs Advisor.

*The Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management (CGSM) was founded in 1966 by Olin Prof. Sterling. Today, the CGSM is the premier national organization involved in promoting and helping gain access to graduate business education for historically underrepresented minorities. Through business school and corporate partnerships, the Consortium provides scholarships, mentoring, networking, internships, and career placement advice to each class of MBA fellows. 18 world class universities admit nearly 500 CGSM students annually to MBA programs. Since its founding, CGSM schools have graduated more than 8,000 leaders to the benefit of businesses and communities around the world.

If you told me five years ago that I would have an MBA degree, I would have laughed in disbelief. The main reason is that I simply could not see myself excel in a white, male-dominated field. As a first generation Latina you can imagine my hesitation, the challenges I would face, and the energy I would need to exert to push back. My reality was that no one I knew had had this experience, and with no support system in place, pursuing an MBA promised to be a very isolating road.

Later this month I will graduate with a joint master’s degree in social work and business administration. The joint track has provided me with the best of both worlds—the tools to fight for social justice combined with the management and analytical skill set to scale the impact I wish to achieve. While the social work experience has helped keep me grounded and motivated to be proactive about the change I wish to see, the MBA experience has been a rollercoaster.

MONDAY, AUG. 31, 2015 - This is the Olin Diversity & Inclusion Expo at Washington Univeristy's Olin Business School. ©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

It took some time for me to find my place at Olin. As a nontraditional business school student the learning curve was steep. More so, I had willingly walked into an environment in which I knew I would have to pave my way to belong. I could count on one hand the number of Latinas in the full-time MBA program and on the other the number of black students. Admittedly, diversity is not only about race, however, having access to a community of people who share a similar background makes a world of difference.

It would have been easy to remain on the sidelines, to just attend classes and complete assignments without ever stepping out of my comfort zone. But because I wanted more, I had to do more. Diversity and Inclusion work, for me, is not only a personal matter; it is my civic responsibility. Helping Olin create space where people from all walks of life feel included, known, and cared for is key in making it a successful and welcoming learning environment.

Through my involvement with the Olin Diversity Council (ODC) and the Olin Diversity and Inclusion Committee (ODIC), I found the support systems I needed to excel at Olin. The road has had its ups and downs. At times I’ve felt like I’m preaching to the choir of the 20 usual suspects, but deep down I have to believe we are moving in the right direction. Diversity and Inclusion matters beyond Olin; to dismiss them not only impedes self-growth, but also represents a disservice to our collective ability to make a difference in the business world and society at large.

I chose to embrace discomfort these past three years of graduate school and I learned to face my own biases, not shy away from difficult conversations, and, most importantly, to meet people half way. So, I dare you to jump in and embrace the beautiful complexity of feeling discomfort in a journey of self-awareness and the exploration of our ability and willingness to be inclusive.

This blog post was contributed by Fabiola Paz, MBA 2016, and Olin Diversity and Inclusion Committee cochair

The Olin Diversity Council and the Entrepreneurial & Venture Capital Association along with the Weston Career Center hosted “Why Emerging Firms Care about Inclusion” this past April 12th in Knight Hall. The event had fifty people in attendance from the Olin community and local firms.

Diversity Council panelThe keynote speaker Natalie Clay, from Practical Diversity Solutions, gave an enthusiastic speech about the business case for innovation and inclusion. She gave real world solutions to increase not only diversity in small firms but more importantly inclusion efforts and how to measure success.

After Natalie’s speech the panel facilitated by Olin’s own Cambrie Nelson, MBA’17 , discussed their own work around these issues. The panel was honored to have Dr. Cheryl Watkins-Moore, Director of Bioscience & Entrepreneurial Inclusion at BioSTL; Kaori Yazawa, Program Manager at Venture Café; Alex Haimann, MBA’12, Head of Business Development at Less Annoying CRM; and Sandra Marks, Senior Vice President at Clayco.

After the event the audience was invited to networking and discussion about topics raised by the panel and how to increase inclusion in the work we do at Olin and in St. Louis at large. All participants on the panel agreed to work with the Olin Diversity Council and the Entrepreneurial & Venture Capital Association in future events. The ODC and EVCA appreciate the support from Weston Career Center to help make this event a reality.

Guest blogger: Cassandra Jensen, MSW, LCSW, PMBA 36

If you are interested in startups and growing businesses, learn why inclusion and diversity have become critical to innovative business and sustainable growth. Plan to attend an informative event 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, with executives discussing Why Emerging Firms Care About Inclusion. The panel discussion is presented by the Olin Diversity Council and the Entrepreneurial & Venture Capital Association along with the Weston Career Center.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 12, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Bellwether Classroom, Bauer Hall 230
REGISTER: Olin Diversity Council Campus Groups, click here

Keynote speaker: Natalie Clay, Chief Solutions Architect at Practical Diversity Solutions


  • Dr. Cheryl Watkins-Moore, Director of Bioscience & Entrepreneurial Inclusion at BioSTL, CEO/Co-Founder at Accelerate Rehabilitation Technologies, LLC, and Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University School of Law
  • Kaori Yazawa, ProgramManager at Venture Cafe
  • Alen Haimann, Head of Business Development at Less Annoying CRM and Olin MBA’12
  • Sandra Marks, Senior Vice President at Clayco, founder of Marks and Associates, and Personal Entrepreneurial Coach

Student Facilitator: Cambrie Nelson, MBA 2017

After the panel there will be a networking mixer with light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments in the McGinnis Classroom.