College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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The Importance of Business Diversity


By Sarah Small


Students from several business organizations are teaming up with the College of Business to host the Business Diversity Exchange, scheduled for Saturday, October 24, and features a series of workshops targeted at promoting and understanding diversity in the workplace.

Sean Courser, a senior in Finance, is responsible for organizing the workshops scheduled for the exchange and coordinating with the 11 companies sending representatives to the event.

“It’s an opportunity for students and companies to get together and talk about diversity in the workplace,” Courser said.

Three years ago, Priya Shah, ’09, had the idea to organize a diversity conference for business students and since then, the conference has grown in popularity and size, Courser said.

“It used to be called the Business Diversity Conference, but it’s more than just a lecture or a conference,” Courser said. “It’s an exchange; it’s a chance to exchange ideas.” 

This year 240 students are registered to participate, the absolute maximum for the exchange. Also, the College of Business received a $6,000 grant from Caterpillar Inc. to organize the event.

Caterpillar liked how the exchange was run in the past and liked the ideas it promoted, so this year they wanted to help us, Courser said.

Throughout the day students will be divided into different groups to participate in diversity workshops and interact with company representatives, Courser said. The workshops will focus on different themes such as generations in the workforce, cultural differences and effective communication.

“I really hope (students) will have at least one workshop that they can really take with them,” Courser said.

In addition to the workshops, three keynote speakers will give presentations about diversity in the workplace.

The event is scheduled to take place in the Business Instructional Facility from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.; lunch is included and a networking reception is scheduled after the exchange.

“I’d like to see students really understand that diversity really is an important issue in the workforce, and that we need to understand each others’ differences,” Courser said.

The 11 companies attending are PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Target, KPMG, Navigant Consulting Inc., Kraft Foods / Oscar Mayer, 3M, Deloitte, Caterpillar Inc.,
Eli Lilly and Company and State Farm Insurance

UIUC College of Business