Kelley School’s National Diversity Case Competition Wins ‘Inspiring Programs In Business’ Award

Hodge Hall at the Kelley School of Business.

Thirteen years ago, a group of undergraduate business students from the Kelley School of Business thought up a unique way to tackle complex diversity issues in business. They created the National Diversity Case Competition which now attracts student teams from nearly 30 business schools across the country.

Now, that case competition has earned Kelley a 2024 “Inspiring Programs in Business Award” from Insight Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. The magazine bestows the award for efforts “to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in business through mentoring, teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives.”

Ash Soni, Dean of Kelley School of Business

“At the Kelley School, we are constantly striving for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in business, which also is highly valued by the companies who hire our students and who invest in our programs,” says dean Ash Soni, The Sungkyunkwan Professor of Operations & Decision Technologies.

“This recognition for the National Diversity Case Competition is nearly as important as the appreciation we hear from students at Kelley and from around the country who say they benefited from our efforts to contribute to a broader understanding of diverse cultures and experiences in the global business world.”


Kelley and its case competition will be highlighted in the magazine’s April 2024 issue along with 27 other award recipients.

Each year, the magazine also bestows its Insight Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award on colleges and universities demonstrating “outstanding diversity and inclusion efforts across their campuses.” IU Bloomington and IU Indianapolis have received the HEED Award several times, including in 2023.

Kelley’s National Diversity Case Competition was created by a student-led organization, the Undergraduate Business Diversity Council. Each year, student teams from around the country gather on Kelley’s campus on the weekend preceding Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There they present solutions to diversity-related business cases provided by the competition’s corporate partners. Past cases have been written by EY, 3M, Target Corp., Procter & Gamble and Cummins. The weekend also includes networking opportunities, and a variety of workshops in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and it often leads to internships and even jobs after graduation.

Thirty student teams – 118 students in all – competed for $22,000 in prize money in this year’s competition held January 12-13. Students worked on strategies to destigmatize and improve the diversity of participants in clinical trials. The case was provided by pharmaceutical company and event sponsor AbbVie.

Each four-person team must have at least two members from an underrepresented population. This year, 41% of competitors identified as African American, 28% Hispanic, 18% Asian, 12% multiracial, and 6% identified as Caucasian, according to a Kelley post on its website. Some 55% of competitors were women.

“This energizing experience reinforces the power of inclusive diversity and facilitates connections between extraordinarily talented students. We are proud that the event also gives our corporate partners an opportunity to observe and engage with a wealth of diverse talent,” says Robert Thomas, associate dean for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at Kelley.

“Students leave with experiences, new connections, and friendships that continue long after the competition.”

A team from the University of Las Vegas won the 2024 competition. University of Washington finished second while University of Texas at Austin was third.

“We know that many business programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students,” says Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of Insight Into Diversity magazine.

“We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in business. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”


Kelley School of Business has long led in extending what it calls its Culture of Care outside the classroom, in areas like DEI, social impact, mental health, and purpose-driven experiences.

It was the first major business school to create an institute dedicated to helping students achieve social impact in real communities. The Kelley Institute for Social Impact (KISI) , founded in 2010, is the umbrella office for social impact student-directed programs and organizations, such as Civic Leadership Development and the annual campus Whirlpool-Habitat for Humanity build.

In 2022, the school created the Kinsey-Kelley Center for Gender Equity Business, a research and education center with a mission of creating safer, more equitable workplaces. Its annual Kelley Impact Competition celebrates student business ideas that “compound good from social impact.” And its Alternative Break Program works with nonprofits to design purpose-driven spring break opportunities for Kelley students.

Kelley is also one of three schools that co-founded the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, a national organization that enhances diversity in business education through merit-based support and mentoring for African American, Hispanic and Native American students.


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