Skip to Content
John Gates speaking to Diversity in Leaderships participants

Universities collaborate to create pathways to the C-suite for ethnic minorities and women

Monday, December 13, 2021

In an effort to foster the professional growth and development of a diverse talent pool, Marian University has activated a coalition of Indiana universities and stakeholders including Purdue University's Krannert School of Management to launch a groundbreaking Diversity in Leadership Program (DIL).

In addition to the Krannert School, participating schools include Butler University's Lacy School of Business, Indiana University's Kelley School of Business on the IUPUI campus, Marian University's Byrum School of Business, and the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. Each partner institution hosts the program's cohorts on their respective campuses one weekend per month, led by faculty and staff from these institutions.

Cohorts are chosen twice a year based on individual applications. All applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, six-plus years of work experience, and two-plus years of management or supervisory experience.

Throughout the six-month curriculum, participants are tasked with developing an understanding of key concepts, tools, and frameworks learned through five courses including business analytics, leadership communication, accounting/finance, organizational strategy, and leading organizations/change. Participants work with an executive coach for the duration of the program and apply their learnings towards a capstone project presented at the conclusion of their experience.

The initiative is designed to help close gaps in educational attainment, wealth, skills, and opportunity for minoritized groups and to create more inclusive living, working, and learning communities, enhancing Central Indiana as a thriving regional ecosystem. DIL will help fulfill Indiana’s need to develop a talent pool in Central Indiana by supporting highly qualified and diverse professionals for senior-leadership positions in the public, private, nonprofit, and social sectors, while supplementing the region's talent attraction and retention efforts.

The program was created by Leon Jackson, Ph.D., who served as the executive director of strategic initiatives for Marian University and took over as chancellor of the university’s Saint Joseph’s College in September.

“The time has come for us to strategically elevate our efforts of being intentional about the professional development of ethnic minorities and women," says Dr. Jackson. "This program looks to wrap the context of learning around real growth experiences, opportunities that are often not afforded minoritized groups, and remove barriers into degree programs that lead to the C-suite.”

According to David Hummels, the Samuel R. Allen Dean of the Krannert School, “the DIL program is a bold cooperative effort providing new pathways for underserved student populations to advance their graduate business education while addressing critical talent needs in Indiana. Purdue and the Krannert School are thrilled to join with our colleagues in great universities across the state.”

Held Dec. 2-4, Krannert's part of the program focused on the course for leading organizations and change. Sessions included "How to Proceed When You Feel Others Get in Your Way" and "Building Power and Influence for Long Term Career Success," among others. Krannert professors Ben Dunford and David Schoorman were among those teaching the course, which included a guest presentation by John Gates, vice-provost for diversity and inclusion at Purdue. A panel discussion with Executive MBA alumni capped off the program.

“In my class we had a wonderful opportunity to explore the impact of institutional power and privilege on organizational communication and effectiveness through an experiential exercise that led to a spirited discussion about racial and social justice,” says Schoorman, associate dean for executive education. “I am excited about the prospect of adding many of these participants to our EMBA programs as it will enhance the learning experience for our students and faculty.”

“It was an honor for me to associate with the participants of the Diversity in Leadership Program,” adds Dunford. “I enjoyed learning from the insights and collective experience of the group, seeking to add to what they are already doing well in their current leadership roles.” 

Krannert’s participation in the DIL program represents its strong focus on diversity, says Roy Dejoie, clinical associate professor and a Krannert Dean's Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

"Tim Ryan, senior partner at PwC and the creator of the now 1600-member strong CEO Action for Diversity, has explained that diversity helps to increase the size of the pie as opposed to making the pieces smaller in an existing pie,” Dejoie says.  “Krannert and its partners in DIL are embracing that spirit in supporting a shared commitment of serving underrepresented populations and enhancing current and future leaders who contribute to the growing diversity and success of their companies."