DEI Slide
May 12, 2021

DEI: Make It Your Business—The First-Ever MBA DEI Summit

By Lia Parker-Belfer T’22, Roderick Milligan T’21, and Edward Beshers T’21

Last month, Tuck partnered with Darden, Harvard Business School, Kellogg, Ross, and Wharton to host the inaugural MBA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Summit. The DEI: Make It Your Business Summit was born out of a desire to answer an important question: “As an MBA student, how can I help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion—in my life and at my future organization?”

This year’s summit explored how MBAs can address systemic racism and discrimination in the U.S. that has been magnified in 2020-2021 with the COVID-19 pandemic; the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and numerous other unarmed Black people; the U.S. Capitol riots; and the rise in hate crimes against the AAPI+ community.

A planning team of student leaders from our six schools formed to address this question, inspire future leaders, and drive change. DEI: Make It Your Business was organized around a framework of “Learn, Equip, Act.” Our programming was guided by the following questions and involved the following events and speakers:

What does DEI really mean? What is included, what isn’t, and what should be? 

Jessica Ross (SVP of Finance, Office of Transformation, at Salesforce) moderated a fireside chat with Joyce Chang (Chair of Global Research at J.P. Morgan) to discuss what DEI means to them, recent DEI trends, the impact of COVID-19, and how to build accountability into organizations.

How do I practice moving the needle for DEI to transform companies and beyond? 

Dia Draper (Assistant Dean for DEI at Tuck) moderated a panel with Natalie Edwards (CDO at National Grid), Kwasi Mitchell (Chief Purpose Officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP), Jessica Pugh (Central Strategy & Operations Manager at Google), and Jerry Won (Founder and CEO at Just Like Media), involving personal stories and discussion on how each leader is innovatively advancing DEI within their respective organizations and industries. Additionally, Tina Gilbert (Managing Director at Management Leadership for Tomorrow) led a workshop on frameworks for allyship and advocacy that helped participants identify how to drive systemic change in their lives and places of work.

What actions are you going to take to advance DEI and hold yourself and others accountable?  

The planning team facilitated a working session to help participants create individual plans for personal growth and to build a sustainable community of equity-focused leaders. 

The virtual summit took place on April 7, 2021, and welcomed over 600 attendees tuning in from 20 countries. Here are some reflections from Tuck’s summit student leaders on the evening:

“The opportunity to work on this summit was truly a privilege. As Operations Lead, I was focused on supporting the planning team as they turned their vision into a reality. I learned so much from sitting in on their thoughtful conversations as the planning unfolded over months of diligent work. The summit itself exceeded all expectations; I was truly inspired by the incredible speakers that shared their passion and wisdom with us.”
—Edward (Ed) Beshers T’21 

“There is a gap between an interest in growing one’s knowledge of DEI matters and opportunities to connect with one’s peers. The DEI summit helped fill this gap. For me, the summit was a transformative growth opportunity to learn. Collaborating with bright and passionate MBAs to bring the DEI summit to fruition was one of the highlights of my MBA experience.”
—Roderick (Rod) Milligan T’21

“I was blown away by the summit. The speakers moved me with their thoughtfulness and authenticity and the participants inspired me with their engagement and courageous vulnerability. As someone who believes their purpose in life is to create community and cultures of belonging, I feel incredibly honored to have been a part of the planning team and to have served as a Co-MC alongside the brilliant Andrea Madu.”
—Lia Parker-Belfer T’22 

Thank you to everyone who helped make the summit a reality! We could not have done it without the support of Dia Draper, everyone at Tuck Communications, and all the Tuckies who joined. Moving forward, the planning team would like to make the MBA DEI summit an annual tradition. As mentioned on our website, this year’s summit largely focused on discussing DEI through a racial equity lens. However, we look forward to exploring other DEI topics in future summits with even more partners. If you are interested in helping organize next year’s summit and representing Tuck, please reach out to Becky Timmons T’22.

If you’ve made it to the end of this blog post, you likely already care about DEI. Thank you and please continue the hard and necessary work of ending systemic racism and discrimination. As current and future business and community leaders, we cannot stay silent on these issues. As we said during the summit, “The leaders who are able to harness the power of diversity, to create inclusive environments where everyone can thrive, and who are committed to breaking down barriers to equity are the leaders of the future.” 

We hope this year’s summit and future summits help MBA students along their respective leadership journeys.

Leading up to the inaugural MBA DEI Summit on April 7, deans from the Darden School of Business, Harvard Business School, Kellogg School of Management, Ross School of Business, Tuck School of Business, and The Wharton School discuss the importance of making diversity, equity, and inclusion your business.