Two weeks ago, we started the cycle of workshops entitled Be Brave, Be a Leader, in collaboration with Diversity, an association that works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination related to the concept of diversity. The seminars are addressed to the participants in the Global MBA and Part-time MBA. The first guest was Cassidy Blackwell, Director of International Communications for Airbnb, followed by Aline De Lucca, Market HR Cluster Lead for Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece for Google and Cassi Mecchi, Director of Inclusion EMEA for Netflix. In this article Marcello Russo, Director of the Global MBA, with Gabriella Crafa, VP of Diversity, Mariachiara Colucci, Academic Director and Andrea Cinti Luciani, Executive Director of the Part-time MBA (weekend) and, of course, with our students, tells us why it’s so important, today, to accelerate the processes related to inclusion in every type of company or organization.
According to the United Nations, the actions to foster more awareness on Diversity and Inclusion are a priority to speed up the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The goal is as simple as it is ambitious: promoting equality and inclusion in all workplaces.
Starting from these considerations, at Bologna Business School we started thinking about a series of actions addressed to the wider audience of our MBAs who every year spends a period of time in Bologna, from over 20 different countries.
How can we make our students reflect on these important skills, that are fundamental for the leadership in contemporary organizations? What are the skills that one must acquire to become a brave leader and make the difference?
Gabriella Crafa, VP of Diversity, and Marcello Russo, Director of the Global MBA, started talking about this topic in September, following some collaboration activities developed on this subject within the context of other courses.
“Drawing inspiration from our shared passion for TV series, we found ourselves in long conversations about how to effectively promote diversity, also through this powerful communication channel”, Marcello Russo explains, “it was therefore natural to start thinking about a training path that could help all the MBA’s participants to understand the ethical and business value of Diversity & Inclusion. Making use of the online lessons, of the professionalism and energy, as well as of the large network of the Diversity association, it was natural to plan a cycle of seminars to which we invited guests from all over the world, who represent leading companies in their respective sectors, sharing their daily experiences managing these topics, involving students in role-playing games and case-studies through which they can learn how to become more qualified and better equipped to face the challenges they’ll encounter once they’ll start working”.
“The pandemic has increased even more the attention towards the need to evolve the traditional leadership models based on control and the exercise of authority, steering things towards a portfolio of competences in which to emphasize soft skills such as empathy, listening and inclusion. In this sense, the real inclusive leadership combines ethics and business because organizations are made up of real people and end customers too are real people and people choose on the basis of value”, adds Gabriella Crafa, who talks with great pride about this sort of inclusive leadership lab at BBS.
Mariachiara Colucci and Andrea Cinti Luciani start instead with a question: “in which way can companies and their people benefit from diversity and implement inclusion?” and they underline that “this question has become increasingly relevant for companies in all sectors. The D&I seminar aims at providing students with concepts and tools to learn to create an environment featuring involvement and connection within organizations, in which background, ideas and different perspectives can become a fundamental value. Even though diversity represents all ways of being, it’s only through the process and the practice of inclusion that we can bring those differences into play. This is why we believe that cultivating this ability is fundamental to remain relevant and competitive in today’s global economy”.
A helpful and much appreciated initiative according to our students too. Alessandro Rosati, Project Manager at Leonardo Helicopters and participant in the MBA said that “every story, every experience, every way of seeing the world could bring a huge value to companies. Heterogeneity, inclusion, and respect are the foundations of high-performing organizations: future managers must embrace diversity, accept it and manage it to constantly innovate in a world turned upside down”.
Rocio Cruz Jimenez, participant in the Global MBA, underlined how “before starting this seminar I thought I didn’t have to work hard towards this aspect, because I’m part of a minority (woman, black person) so I thought I was going to be the most open-minded individual. Nonetheless, after the first lesson I realized I had been wrong because I was keeping out of my reach other types of minorities, such as people with disabilities. When I’m pushed out of my comfort zone, when I feel challenged to question myself it’s always in inspiration for me and this seminar, since the very first day, gave me the opportunity to do it”.
The complete list of guests includes:
Cassidy Blackwell, Director of International Communications for Airbnb. Diversity – Global Overview
Aline De Lucca, Market HR Cluster Lead for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece for Google. Diversity Transformation & Business
Cassi Mecchi, Director of Inclusion EMEA for Netflix. Inclusive Leadership
Monika Michaliszyn, VP of Internal Audit and Global Assurance / Co-Founder of the EMEA Inclusion & Diversity ERG for VF Corporation. Talent & High Potential Teams
Nicola Palmarini – Director of the UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing. Cultural change and speak up
Susanna Zucchelli, Director, Water Direction Water, HERA S.p.A.