Diversity and Inclusion are Essential Business Tools
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Diversity and Inclusion are Essential Business Tools

About a year ago, as I was looking at the part-time University of California MBA programs, I attended several fairs to find out more about the different University of California programs. Most of the universities talked about diversity and inclusion. But as with individual conceptions of identity, diversity can have different meanings for everyone. And nothing can be as enlightening as experiencing it firsthand.

My UC Davis Diversity and Inclusion Experience

Today, I’m a first-year student in the UC Davis Bay Area MBA program. During orientation for the program, I met my cohort—talented, motivated professionals of different races, ethnicities and gender. As the quarter progressed, we got to know each other better and I realized, we are diverse not just by race, ethnicity and gender, but also by religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, work background and stage in life.

My colleagues include African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Russian immigrants, Hispanics, Latinos and second-generation immigrants. We have worked in IT, finance, healthcare, culinary, military and architecture, just to name a few. We are single, married, have children in college, raising toddlers, parents of newborns or about to have a baby.

In the Bay Area Part-Time MBA program, we also have classmates and network with MBA students from both the Sacramento Part-Time MBA program and the Full-Time MBA program in Davis. We team up on projects, attend events, and have lively discussions in and outside of class, in the hallways and over meals. We understand each other’s differences and commonalities.

Why is Diversity and Inclusion Important?

Diversity promotes creative thinking. Diversity expands our capacity for viewing issues or problems from multiple perspectives, angles and vantage points. This works to our advantage when we encounter new problems in different contexts and situations. Rather than viewing the world through a single-focus lens, we can expand our views and consider multiple options when making decisions and weighing critical issues such as morality and ethics.

Diversity enhances self-awareness. By moving beyond ourselves, we gain a panoramic perspective of the world around us and a more complete view of our place in it.

Inclusion: Not about “Fitting In”

Inclusion isn’t necessarily about “fitting in,” as differences remain important distinctions of identity and provide the broadest range of perspectives and experience. Inclusion is looking beyond these filters of race, ethnicity, gender, etc. and to respect each other’s differences and to provide the model of acceptance, belonging, participation, worth and dignity.

Diversity and Inclusion is woven into the fabric of the Graduate School of Management. It creates an environment for creative and innovative thinking, enriching our academic experience.