Guest post by Dan Kerr, CPA, Ph.D. and Dr. Lee Meadows
Walsh College is a leading business college and one of Michigan’s largest business schools, with degree and certificate programs that prepare students for career success in the global marketplace.
To better prepare MBA students to be positive catalysts for change, Dr. Lee Meadows developed a new course, MGT621: Leading DEI Change in Organizations, designed to provide a solid foundation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) leadership in organizations. Through this course, students develop the skills to effectively respond to and manage issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in everyday business practices. Special emphasis is placed on confronting the social, historical, and ideological forces and structures that often inhibit diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Need for an Inclusion Tool
While developing this course, Dr. Meadows knew he needed a tool that would emphasize the broadening definition of leadership, in which inclusivity is just as important as listening. He was familiar with a few DEI assessments, and although they were good generic instruments that would, at the very least, raise self-awareness, they did not help individuals take their awareness and apply it toward developing inclusive behaviors.
Then he discovered the Inclusive Behaviors Inventory℠ (IBI). “The IBI fills that gap for me,” he says. “It addresses the issue of self-awareness, leadership style, and inclusive behavior. It does more to address inclusive behavior better than any instrument I’ve seen or used.”
The Inclusive Behaviors Inventory provides a self-reflection score ranking across five inclusive behaviors and hones in on personal areas for improvement. The five behaviors include learning about bias (above), building key skills, working across boundaries, becoming a champion, and getting results. The IBI provides clear paths for strengthening inclusion practices, touching on topics including bias, empathy, psychological safety, relationship building, and more.
The IBI in Practice
When the course began in the winter semester of 2022, students completed the IBI assessment during the inclusive leadership section of the course. The self-assessment (above) allows users to rank themselves on various inclusive behaviors on a scale of 1-10. Dr. Meadows notes that for students, the IBI is an opportunity to go beyond the written text and focus on real-life applications in the workplace, and for professors, it provides the perfect opportunity to engage in more than just an academic dialogue about inclusion.
Students’ IBI Reflections
Justine D. reflects on the IBI in their final paper: “I scored lowest with giving people equal time to speak during a meeting. Thanks to the IBI assessment, I will make a conscious effort to ensure that all meeting participants have time to join discussions, and also try to monitor who is talking and who is not, so I can make sure anyone who would like to say something has an opportunity to do so.”
Ariel K., another MBA candidate, says, “I was surprised to score the lowest for the Learning About Bias dimension. I am guilty of recognizing others’ biases, however I never thought I would be a victim of not recognizing my own. Identifying and stepping back from automatic responses and considering different responses allows for inner reflection, seeing oneself objectively, and becoming aware of personal strengths and areas of improvement. I need to actively seek out new sources of information beyond my own current perspective and exercise genuine curiosity with people from different backgrounds.”
Asper M. says, “I am an introvert and tend to listen more than I talk in meetings,” says Asper M., “but I liked the IBI report suggestions on requesting written input from team members to reduce groupthink and using small group discussions so everyone feels comfortable speaking up. Overall, I found the IBI assessment extremely helpful, especially the next steps section.”
Students also described how they will approach work differently as a result of using the Inclusive Behaviors Inventory in their anonymous feedback:
I will better understand my surroundings and take time to understand people’s views as well as my own.
I will approach work aware that everyone has unconscious biases and must acknowledge them to eliminate them.
Having a clear understanding of my lower and higher IBI-rated areas, causes me to pay closer attention to anything that may be any sort of implicit bias and look closer to biases presented by others.
I found the IBI to be very helpful and would consider using it as a training tool in my work environment.
Dr. Meadows’ Reflections and Advice
Dr. Meadows considers the IBI a worthwhile tool for building inclusive skills:
“I consider the Inclusive Behaviors Inventory to be a professor’s dream instrument for generating an understanding for what it means for leaders to be inclusive in managing their teams. There is emerging research that points to the benefits of working with an inclusive workforce, but the gap between principles and practice is rarely addressed in a way that brings meaningful insight and dialogue around individual style preference. The IBI helps the participant to process the principles of inclusion, and see the experience of inclusion through their style lens. For the professor, it is an opportunity to engage in more than just an academic dialogue about the principles of inclusion, and for the student, it represents an opportunity to look beyond the written text regarding inclusion and focus on its meaning and use within the workplace. It has been a welcome addition to the broader world of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Interested in unlocking the unique power of the Inclusive Behaviors Inventory in your academic course or workplace? Reach out to Dr. Lee Meadows to learn more about how he uses the IBI in his classes at Walsh College, or Dan Kerr for complimentary guest access to the IBI 360, which now allows for colleague feedback!
Lee E. Meadows is an adjunct Professor of Management at Walsh College and a Consultant with over 30 years of experience working in, consulting for, writing about, and presenting on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion issues. He has a strong background in Human Resources and is on the forefront of identifying trends that will impact the profession. As a Human Resource professional, his practical experiences include having worked at Michigan State University, General Motors, the Kellogg Foundation, EDS/A.T. Kearney, Consulting Services, Con-Way Transportation Services, and as a Professor of Management for Walsh College.
He is currently the President of the State of Michigan Chapter of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources. Lee’s ongoing activities in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have been focused on course design and delivery, writing articles, workshop design and delivery, consulting on DE&I implementation, and presenting DE&I at academic and professional conferences. He has successfully worked with for profit, non-profit, and government agencies in building sustainable DE&I practices.
He publishes monthly articles on his LinkedIn page and remains active in designing, developing, and delivering leadership and DE&I strategies for several organizations. Lee is the author of the business leadership fable: Take the Lull by the Horns: Closing the Leadership Gap.
Daniel Basil Kerr, CPA, Ph.D.
Daniel Basil Kerr is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant. He partners with organizations and universities to develop more inclusive work and study environments. He previously served as Director of Development at Deloitte where he was responsible for their Global New Partner Seminar and other global partner development programs. He currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Business at Stony Brook University, St. Joseph’s College, and Suffolk County Community College. Dan is a CPA (New York) and holds a Master’s Degree in Accounting from the CW Post School of Accountancy, as well as a Ph.D. in Business Education/Cultural Studies from New York University.
His two most recent publications are Cultural Competency Interventions: Three Case Studies with Guiding Theoretical Frameworks (2nd Edition of the Oxford Handbook of Lifelong Learning) and Developing Social Emotional Learning Competencies Through Virtual Internships (Leading Schools with Social, Emotional, and Academic Development). In addition to his cultural research, Dan is also an active poet with 20 published poems in Bards Annual, The Suffolk County Poetry Review, Beat Generation, and other anthologies. He is also a Lay Minister in the Episcopal Church.
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