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Diversity is reality; inclusion is a choice

Inclusion and diversity were the themes of the first School Meeting of 2019, held on 31 January in front of a packed audience at RCOG.

The scene was set by François Ortalo-Magné. Diversity is our reality, the varied make-up of our community, which extends far beyond differences in nationality. Inclusion is where we have a choice. This is why shifting gear on inclusion is a critical component of our overall School strategy and underpins our three strategic priorities of brand, digital and global.

Importantly, at LBS we talk about inclusion and diversity and not the other way round, as is usual elsewhere. “This is something I insisted upon,” explained Francois. “There’s no point being diverse if we’re not inclusive.”

And what do we mean by being inclusive? The School has adopted a single-sentence definition: “we embrace the many dimensions of the diversity of our community and enable every individual to feel welcome and be their best.”

The power of this sentence, noted François, is in its simplicity. “I hope it helps you, the same way it helps me, in guiding your choices and your actions.”

At the same time this definition is extremely demanding. Inclusion is not automatic or easy. “There will inevitably be stumbles along the way and we need to help one another on this journey. It is an aspiration, one I hope we all will keep in mind,” said François.

The audience heard from four other speakers.

Kamalini Ramdas, Professor of Management Science and Operations, Deloitte Chair in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Chair of the Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Board.

Kamalini discussed the goals of the Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Board, including developing new ideas for what the School can do to promote inclusion. ‘It is up to all of us,’ said Kamalini, ‘to change our behaviours.’

Tariq Ahmed, HR Director

Tariq spoke about the wide-ranging efforts that are taking place across the School to build an inclusive workplace. “Everyone is unique and has value. It is that richness of diversity that helps us achieve more both individually and collectively.”

Finally, the audience heard from two students – recipients of LBS scholarships aimed at increasing our diversity – who shared the impact these scholarships have had on their personal and professional lives.

Constanza Diaz MBA2020, who comes from Chile and who received the Gonzalo & Maria Garcia Latin American Scholarship, explained how impressed she has been about the School’s diversity ‘not just of nationality, age or race, but also of thought and outlook.’ The welcome she has received has enabled her to ‘have space to grow as an individual and as a leader.’

Priyanka Ahuja MBA2020 had lived most of her life in India before receiving the Monica and Navin Valrani Scholarship. ‘Coming to LBS would not have been possible without this scholarship. It has enabled me to take the plunge and to invest in myself.’

View the 2019 Inclusion & Diversity Annual Report