Saturday, April 23, the Orfalea College of Business hosted its second annual Leadership Beyond the Resume conference with the theme, “Inclusivity is our Business.” The event attracted 135 of the college’s top students, including club leaders, ambassadors, mentors and peer advisors to Chumash auditorium for a day of self-reflection, honest communication, and action planning surrounding diversity and inclusivity on campus, in the classroom and in the work place.
The day kicked off with a welcome from Dean Scott Dawson and icebreaking games like Human Bingo. Kari Mansager, program director for the Cal Poly’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, presented the keynote address for the conference. Her presentation related the importance of the inclusivity to the college’s mission statement; she also discussed the push for change across campus and talked about how the conference was helping to further that work.
“This conference, the culmination of hard work from some fellow Orfalea Leaders, was incredibly eye-opening and, even more so, forward looking,” said Cal Poly student Shreyas Doshi, founder and managing director of Mustang Consulting Group.
The day centered upon intensive breakout sessions on privilege, microaggressions, and ally-ship and inclusive leadership. Breakout sessions were facilitated by Cal Poly staff from the Educational Talent Search, University Housing, SAFER, and the Cross Cultural Center.
The discussion about privilege, led by Cal Poly’s Cross Cultural Center team, taught students how to assess privilege in themselves and others — including sexual, racial or socio-economic privilege — and understand how it can affect interactions between people. Doshi noted that he learned how social angst toward privilege can grow through a lack of acknowledgement and rational discussion.
The session on microaggression targeted the message implied in everyday verbal, nonverbal and environmental slights, snubs or insults whether intentional or unintentional. Students analyzed common phrases to discern how they might be interpreted in different settings. The session encouraged students to solicit viewpoints from peers to assess how unconscious microagressions might be affecting one’s communication.
The final discussion on ally-ship allowed students to reflect on the social groups they are outwardly connected to and how they can use that as a powerful tool to help others. Ally-ship centers on trust, which takes time, selflessness and effort to cultivate and maintain.
“For me, racial ties are extremely important. Coming from an Indian background, I definitely would be an ally to people of color,” Doshi noted. “What I perceived as ally-ship in a racial context is the ability to go to a marginalized group, understand their concerns continuously without causing conflict, develop relationships instead of immediate savior activity, and help support/empower the group with integrity.”
At the end of the breakout sessions, each student developed a thorough action plan for how they can improve their club or student organization on campus to create a more inclusive environment.
“These three sessions helped me refocus on the process of how I run my student organization in relation to people, rather than the results,” said Doshi of Mustang Consulting. “It strengthened my opinion of how important it is to see how inclusive your organization is, especially to its own.”
He said he reflected on improving his groups meetings and the relationships he can build with the organizations’ members by allowing for different perspectives and having better consciousness about the identities and presumptions present in the group. Elsewhere at Orfalea, organizations like the Peer Advisors planned to shine light on its services in different languages. Groups like co-ed business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi pledged to formally teach ally-ship to its members.
The Orfalea College of Business plans to host its annual Leadership Beyond the Resume conference next year, exploring new themes that challenge Orfalea College of Business students.