Creating a More Inclusive Environment

PROVO, Utah – Feb 28, 2019 – When the BYU Marriott Inclusion Committee gathered data from students about their experiences in the business school, the group discovered something that caught its eye. While the school had done well preparing students to meet job qualifications, many individuals desired further guidelines on developing inclusive attitudes that they could carry with them into the workplace.

Two BYU Marriott courses already being taught—HRM 391: Organizational Effectiveness and MSB 390: Ethics in Management—covered the business and moral reasons for creating diverse workplaces, which was an important groundwork for students. However, the committee saw an opportunity—and a need—to build upon that foundation.

“With these academic and theoretical bases, the Inclusion Committee thought practical methods of working with diverse individuals and real-world tips to be more inclusive were also important for our students,” says Taeya Howell, a member of the Inclusion Committee and an assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources.

The committee concluded that a curriculum on inclusion would benefit students by better enabling them to respect differences in others, be comfortable with diversity at work, and abandon outdated ideas of gender capacities. Exhibiting these essential attitudes in today’s workplace would, in turn, also help to change the views others had about BYU students.

“Fairly or not, our graduates have sometimes been perceived as judgmental and insular,” says Lisa Thomas, a curriculum developer and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Management. “Our students have great goodwill, but some have had limited interaction with diverse populations.”

With this reality in mind, the Inclusion Committee asked Howell and Thomas to prepare materials on inclusion and diversity. The two embraced the assignment, working tirelessly to prepare a valuable curriculum that would reach all BYU Marriott students.

“The Inclusion Committee used its data gathered from students to identify issues of concern,” Howell notes. “Our primary goals were to improve student experiences within the business school by creating a more inclusive environment and to better prepare BYU Marriott students to succeed in diverse workplaces.”

The resulting inclusion curriculum was piloted at the end of the Fall 2018 semester in all twenty-two sections of MCOM 320: Communication in Organizational Settings. The curriculum was introduced as a supplementary material to be taught in addition to the standard MCOM 320 topics. Adam Smith, a junior from Hamilton, Montana, studying global supply chain management, emphasized how the course increased his ability to understand different viewpoints.

“The professor did an excellent job giving us practical, tangible situations that we could practice and discuss,” Smith says. “Her emotion, authenticity, and clarity is what made the message of inclusion stick. I think the aim of becoming aware of those around us is an important goal that has deep spiritual roots.”

Following the pilot program, the final inclusion curriculum was launched at the beginning of Winter 2019 semester. Based on the results they have already seen, Thomas and Howell are confident that the curriculum will have a great long-term effect on the BYU Marriott School of Business.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Brendan Gwynn