Diversity Symposium to showcase campus inclusiveness

Erin Gums, right, and other 2nd-year MBA students organized a diversity panel during orientation week.

More than 200 prospective MBA students will explore this weekend what life at Berkeley-Haas is like for women, racial and ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, and veterans.

Haas students with the One Haas sign
Q@Haas was one of many student affinity groups recruiting new members during MBA Club Week.

The sold-out Berkeley-Haas Diversity Symposium, to be held at Haas on Sat., Oct. 7, is designed to both introduce students to Haas culture and leadership opportunities, and provoke discussion on issues that underrepresented groups might face at school and in the workplace. The event is led by the full-time MBA admissions office, with the help of MBA students.

“Haas students are really pushing to drive change at the university to create a more inclusive environment on campus, where we hear from more voices,” said Erin Gums, MBA 18, VP of diversity for the Full-time MBA Association and an event co-organizer. “We want to show prospective students that if you come here, these are the kind of things you will be able to dive into and partner with the administration on.”

Monica Stevens, diversity champion
Monica Stevens will host Friday’s mixer.

A Friday evening networking mixer, hosted in San Francisco by Wells Fargo Senior VP Monica Stevens, MBA 96, chair of the Haas Alumni Diversity Council, kicks off the weekend. The council, which Stevens founded in 2012 and has grown to 20 alumni members, is actively involved in the school’s efforts to increase diversity on campus and build a strong alumni community.

Sharing the Haas culture

This symposium itself offers a full day of panels and workshops, while also serving as a networking opportunity and a chance for students, staff, and faculty, to introduce Haas’ culture.

“We’re excited to share our culture with prospective students,” said Morgan Bernstein, executive director of admissions for the Full-time MBA Program. “We’re working to create an environment where everyone is welcome and has the support they need to become leaders who transform business.”

Berkeley MBA students are involved in a wide range of affinity groups including Q@Haas, the Black Business Students Association, the Haas Veterans Club, the Women in Leadership Club, and Asian-Americans@Haas—which launched this fall.

Erin Gums: “Haas students are really pushing to drive change.”

Full-time MBA students also lead the Race Inclusion Initiative and the Gender Equity Initiative, two research-based efforts aimed at increasing the numbers of women and underrepresented minority students in the program, and making sure they are welcome and supported once they arrive.

The symposium’s morning sessions include an overview of what diversity and inclusion mean at Haas, with panel leaders from the various campus clubs and organizations sharing information about their groups and their personal experiences as Haas students.

Having more honest conversations

New this year will be 90 minutes of interactive workshops, led by campus diversity leaders, which will give students a deeper dive on diversity challenges they might face on campus or in the workplace.

The idea, Gums said, is to challenge prospective students to come up with potential solutions for the most pressing issues.

“We’ll explore how we can push past discomfort and have more honest conversations about gender and race across different groups,” she said. “We’ll address how business leaders can work to ensure that all candidates are equally prepared and supported during the career development and recruitment process.”

Gums noted that the symposium also gives current students they chance to engage directly with prospective students and get their ideas and suggestions.

Stevens to receive Raymond E. Miles Service Award

Another panel will introduce prospective students to the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, whose mission is to enhance diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership. The Consortium awards merit-based, full-tuition fellowships to top MBA candidates who have a proven record of promoting inclusion in school, in their jobs, or in their personal lives.

Stevens has been a champion for the Consortium at Haas and co-leads the Alumni Diversity Council with vice chair Brett Conner, MBA 12. The Diversity Council discusses high-level initiatives and how to impact current students.

“Diversity and inclusion are woven throughout the school’s strategic plan — five years ago they were not,” Stevens said.

For Stevens’ efforts enhancing diversity and inclusion, she will receive the Raymond E. Miles Alumni Service Award, the school’s highest volunteer honor, at the annual Haas Gala in November.