USC Marshall is proud of our efforts to foster a diverse, inclusive and equitable learning community. Consistent with our longstanding commitment to preparing global leaders with the vital knowledge, skills and tools to engage in a diverse and dynamic workplace, we continue to promote and support myriad strategies including partnerships, events, activities and student clubs.

This year, building on existing efforts, we appointed Dr. Sharoni Little as associate dean and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. Joined by assistant deans Dr. Smrity Randhawa and Debra Langford, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will advance our efforts to ensure a welcoming and engaging educational environment in a community of diverse faculty, staff and students. This culture of inclusion is paramount to the success of everyone at USC Marshall and helps empower our graduating students to think critically, to engage with diverse teams collaboratively and to remain open to new ideas and perspectives as they prepare to become part of a vibrant global economy.

At USC Marshall, we believe that successful strategies and solutions to business problems depend on cultivating leadership attributes such as emotional and cultural intelligence and interpersonal communication, as well as on having access to the widest range of ideas, opinions and experiences. For instance, by seeking a diverse pool of doctoral students, we are helping redefine the academic business community of the 21st century. Our efforts include participation in statewide and national programs like the Ph.D. Project, which since 1994 has more than tripled the number of African-American/Black, Latinx and Native American business school professors. USC Marshall currently has a number of Ph.D. Project scholars and actively recruits at the annual Ph.D. Project conference.

Programs such as our Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management convene conferences to excite interest in USC Marshall among women and underrepresented groups and to enhance their access to the field. We also offer an award to women in this area, who today fill only 15 percent of top-level supply chain positions. USC Marshall has taken important steps toward supporting and advancing women’s achievement. Recently, the USC Marshall Graduate Women in Business and the Marshall Business Competition Program presented the inaugural MBA Everyone’s Business Global Case Competition, which works with similar groups across the nation to reach gender parity and equity in business schools today and boardrooms tomorrow. Those efforts are bearing fruit: USC Marshall was the first school to achieve and exceed gender parity in the full-time MBA program for the Class of 2020.

Through the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we have established a close relationship with the Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI), USC’s signature college preparatory program, which enrolls close to 1,000 children annually. NAI is a rigorous, seven-year pre-college enrichment program designed to prepare students from South and East Los Angeles for admission to a college or university. Students who remain in the program in good standing from sixth grade until their high school graduation are eligible for a full scholarship to USC.

Additionally, we partner with leading organizations such as the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, the Forté Foundation and Management Leadership for Tomorrow to help women, people of color and other underrepresented groups access transformational business education and develop as next-generation leaders. This year marks USC Marshall’s 50th anniversary as a Consortium member, and we were the first school on the West Coast to join. Since 1968, over 700 USC Marshall students have been Consortium-affiliated. We also help nurture achievement through support of diverse student groups such as Black Graduate Business Leaders, the Black Business Student Association, the Graduate Asian Business Society, the Latino Business Student Association, the Latino Management & Business Association, SpectrumSC, Marshall Pride and others. National organizations such as the National Association of Black Accountants and the Association of Latino Professionals for America have thriving chapters at USC Marshall as well.

USC Marshall’s mission and core values reflect our dedication to educating students equipped to live and lead in a diverse and interconnected world. Yet we remain intentional and relentless in our drive to do more. In the spirit of community building and transparency, we continue to communicate our challenges and our progress, including hosting open forums on campus climate and engaging in active outreach through a broad range of scholarships and initiatives.

At USC Marshall, our collective efforts and dialogue involving diversity, equity and inclusion are rigorous, thoughtful and ongoing. We are always eager to have new partners join us.

Sharoni Little, Ph.D., Ed.D. is Associate Dean/Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and Professor of Clinical Business Communication at University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business.

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