UVA Darden Community Discusses Inclusion From All Angles During One Darden Week
By Dave Hendrick
Students at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business hosted the annual One Darden Week in early September, offering a virtual venue for in-depth discussions intended to strengthen the community through considerations of issues of identity, inclusion and allyship, among others.
The week, which featured sessions on identity in business, the experience of international students in the U.S., inequity in America, and discussions on how leaders have responded to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, among other topics, was based on an inclusive leadership framework intended to allow the community members to unlock the potential to collaborate and excel, according to Miranda Grueiro (Class of 2021), Darden Student Association vice president of diversity and one of the week’s organizers.
“This week was very intentional in including our community of current students, partners, faculty, staff, alumni, UVA resources and Charlottesville,” said Grueiro. “Amplifying diverse student experiences, alumni, corporate civil engagement and, most importantly, UVA and Charlottesville initiatives, present the beginning of how we need to engage as leaders to strive for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world.”
At a session titled Business Not as Usual, a panel including both alumni and Darden leadership discussed the difficulties of recent months and reasons for optimism. Daniele Wilson (MBA ’11), head of industry for Google’s nonprofits group, described her present state of mind as “hopeful.” The pandemic had eliminated many typical distractions, Wilson said, and large swaths of the population were newly focused on examining areas on inequality.
“The wonderful thing is, now that we recognize that there are these systemic issues, people are focused on putting forth the effort for systemic change,” said Wilson. “I do feel that transformation beginning to happen.”
Panelists noted the companies they worked for, including Google, JP Morgan and Caesars Entertainment, had long-standing policies in place to lift issues of equity and inclusion, even if the current national moment was shedding more light on the issues.
Jeff Tang (MBA ’13), senior director of marketing and general management careers at Darden’s Career Center, said all companies recruiting MBA students now discuss their diversity and inclusion initiatives, but he encouraged students to ask prospective employers about what their initiatives looked like before the events of 2020.
“When companies have good answers for you, my advice to students is take that to heart,” said Tang.
One Darden Week also considered creating a welcoming, inclusive environment from a range of perspectives, and a panel on allyship featured Darden psychologist Debbie Wilson and Darden students considering how they could support those who may be struggling with substance issues, or those who simply choose to abstain from alcohol. Wilson said allies should remember that “listening is the basis of understanding,”
“So many times we are well meaning and we have good messaging and we know what we want to get across, but we forget that communication is comprised of two main things,” said Wilson. “What we intend to communicate and what the other person hears.”
The week concluded with the annual Global Food Festival, again delivered virtually. The event featured breakout rooms with cooking showcases from around the world, and a number of performances, including a video montage of a Bollywood-style dance performed both around Darden and in community members’ homes and living rooms.
A digital archive of One Darden Week’s sessions, including the Global Food Festival, can be found here.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia