In advance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, a talented and diverse class of students from 32 business schools gathered today (January 13) at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business to present cases on environmental justice.
The 133 students are competing in Kelley’s annual National Diversity Case Competition, held each year the weekend before the holiday celebrating the civil rights champion. It is the first time in three years the premier competition will be held in person after pandemic restrictions moved the event online the previous two.
“This event is a wonderful learning experience for the students, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for our corporate partners – not only to meet these very talented students from many different universities, but to see how they work in a team environment,” said Patrick Hopkins, executive associate dean for academic programs at Kelley and the Conrad Prebys Professor.
“It also fosters connections between student peers from all over the country, which can lead to meaningful conversations and friendships that continue long after the event.”
A HIGHLY DIVERSE GROUP OF COMPETITORS
To compete, each four-person team must have at least two members from an underrepresented population. This year, 38% of competitors identify as African American, 26% Hispanic, 13% Asian, and 9% multiracial. One student identified as North African/Arab, 13% identified as Caucasian, and several students did not disclose their ethnicity, according to a Kelley post on its website.
Further, 60% of competitors are female, 38% are male, and 2% are non-binary.
Last year, 38 schools competed with 38% of students identifying as African American, 21% Asian, 19% Hispanic, 18% multiracial, and 6% Caucasian. 57% were female.
3M CASE ON ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Kelley has organized the National Diversity Case Competition for 12 years. It is the premier case competition of its kind, featuring the case competition, networking opportunities, and a variety of workshops in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion arena. It also acts as a recruitment event for corporate partners who judge the competition, present at workshops, and network with students.
This year’s case was developed by 3M, a manufacturer and distributor of industrial products, technology, and solutions. It asks teams to present on the company’s efforts to address its environmental justice initiatives, particularly in its manufacturing hubs.
Teams are competing for $22,000 in prize money, and the event often leaders to leadership opportunities, internships, and even jobs after graduation, Kelley says in its release.
The event begins this evening with a networking session and dinner. The case competition will kick-off Saturday with prizes awarded to the overall winner as well as the finalists and runners-up in each bracket. Judges are looking for creative solutions leveraging students’ diverse backgrounds, the school says.
Last year, a team from University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business took the top prize, also working on a case created by 3M. Students were charged with finding ways to increase adoption of robotics and automation for minority-owned small businesses while advancing equity in STEM. The Denver team used its understanding of Colorado’s ski industry and developed a plan to connect minority-owned businesses in the space with grant opportunities while establishing technical workshops geared to underrepresented groups.
IMPACT OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
This weekend, four Kelley undergraduates will represent their school in the competition: Ahmed Fares Hajji, a freshman pre-business major from Tunisia; Laila Morris, a freshman international studies major from Chicago; Kushal Pai, a freshman finance major from Iowa City, Iowa; and Henry Schamp, a sophomore operations major from Indianapolis.
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.
Last summer the school announced the creation of Kinsey-Kelley Center for Gender Equity Business, a new 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.
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