Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) is increasingly being recognized as a business imperative, and this fact is now reflected in career opportunities for business school graduates.
Between May 2020 and September 2020, the number of ads for diversity and inclusion jobs on the career platform Indeed rose by 123%.
“Employees, prospective candidates, shareholders; everyone is now actively seeking insight as to how companies show up as true global citizens,” says Tia Liogas Sanchez (pictured below), MBA alum from EU Business School and senior manager, EDI programs, at industrial supplies company Grainger in the US.
So, how can you launch your EDI career, and work towards making your workplace more diverse and inclusive?
We spoke to Tia about what EDI means to her, the skills this career path requires, and how an MBA from EU Business School helped her land the role.
Understanding the importance of EDI
When Tia graduated from her one-year MBA from EU Business School in 2010, business leaders rarely considered the importance of building a diverse workforce.
But looking back, Tia says that although she didn’t know the term, she was introduced to the concept of EDI while studying her MBA.
Immersed in a diverse cohort, and one of only a few Americans in the program, Tia learned to communicate and collaborate with students from all over the world, with vastly different backgrounds and experiences.
“My experience at EU Business School was the first time that I was truly surrounded with a lot of diversity,” Tia says. “I was thrown into a multicultural environment and began to see EDI in a different perspective.”
Since 92% of students at EU Business School are international, graduates are guaranteed a broad global network.
It’s thanks to this exposure to different cultures and types of expertise that Tia realized just how much business success relies on diverse teams.
“There's a significant business advantage when you couple greater diversity on a team with feelings of inclusion and belonging of its members,” she explains. “Teams that have both of those operate better and drive more results.”
Building EDI expertise at business school
Tia says that the foundational skills she learned during the MBA have proven invaluable in her career in EDI.
“In business school, you learn about influence and negotiation, project management, time management, cross-cultural communication, finance, data analysis, and leadership, all of which are imperative skills that are needed to be successful in your EDI career,” she notes.
What Tia particularly appreciated about the MBA program at EU Business School was that she was taught those skills by industry experts.
“I really liked that the professors were successful business leaders, who had experience outside of the academic world,” she says.
MBA students at EU Business School now have access to courses that specifically discuss EDI, like the People and Talent Management module, which can prepare them for EDI careers in today’s business landscape
Tia also says that apart from developing specific skills, the MBA helped her cultivate a business mindset, which is needed to successfully implement EDI objectives.
“What's really important in my type of work is that you have to make your priorities as an EDI leader resonate with business leaders, so you must communicate EDI in a way that makes leaders buy in and commit to those goals,” she explains.
Launching an EDI career
After her MBA, Tia began a career in HR, which progressively led her to EDI. Now, as senior manager of EDI programs at Grainger, she has a wide range of responsibilities.
She helps support recruitment, onboarding, and community engagement; she collaborates with the talent acquisition department to attract diverse applicants; and she works alongside the analytics team to understand EDI gaps and successes across the company.
To business school students who want to launch an EDI career, Tia says: “Do what you can with what you have.”
Your first role doesn’t have to be directly within an EDI department, she explains. Instead, you can include elements of EDI within your work by seeking out different perspectives, ensuring equal treatment and opportunity, and making sure that other team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas.
Tia also advises anyone interested in pursuing a career in this field to follow EDI professionals on LinkedIn and attend virtual conferences and webinars on EDI.
Whether you manage to land a role directly in EDI or not, there are many ways to educate yourself on EDI topics and perspectives, and to incorporate it in your day-to-day work.
“We all spend so much time in the workplace, which is why it's so important to work where you feel like you belong, and where your ideas and your perspectives are heard. EDI is how you get there,” Tia concludes.
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