Bernie Banks, Kellogg's associate dean for leadership development and inclusion, gives insight into the design of Kellogg's DEI Pathway.

Kellogg’s DEI Pathway: Honoring Our Purpose Through the Lens of DEI

By Bernie Banks, Associate Dean for Leadership Development and Inclusion

As of the start of Spring Quarter 2021, students in the Full-Time and Evening & Weekend Program have had the option to pursue a DEI Pathway at Kellogg. Now, you might be wondering what a pathway is. A pathway at Kellogg is neither a certification of any kind, nor is it a major, where you would need to take a minimum number of courses. Rather, a pathway functions more as a travel guide; if you want to make a trip to a certain destination or have an interest in a certain area — whether it’s asset management, entrepreneurship, or DEI — a pathway allows you to consider a set of courses that you will be well-advised to pursue in service of advancing your understanding of that area. They are interdisciplinary and designed to give students a more substantive exposure to something that either the marketplace or students have expressed intense interest in.

Why we created the DEI Pathway

The first spark for creating the DEI Pathway was generated by our students and some faculty members. It is important to note that a number of people involved in our degree programs were strongly advocating for this pathway, arguing that it would be a tangible way to show Kellogg’s commitment to growing DEI at Kellogg and in organizations across the world.

In addition to the students’ intense interest, we were inspired by market demand and the changing demographics transpiring in countries around the world. Furthermore, the pace of diversification in organizational settings is continuing to intensify — not only in the U.S., but globally. Consequently, it is incumbent upon organizations to have leaders who possess a substantive understanding for what is necessary to leverage diversity effectively.

Bearing this in mind, I invited Kellogg professors Mike Mazzeo, associate professor of strategy, and Nicole Stephens, professor of management and organizations, to assist me in designing the pathway. Utilizing our diverse experiences, interests and research areas, we identified how the DEI Pathway would fit within Kellogg’s course portfolio, what kind of skills would prove useful for someone committed to advancing DEI in organizational settings, and what organizations need from their leaders as their teams are becoming increasingly diverse.

What you’ll gain from the DEI Pathway experience

When considering the courses that are available to you through this pathway, there are three categories to consider:

  • These courses — which currently include “Leadership in Organizations,” “Beyond Diversity: The Fundamentals of Inclusive Leadership,” “The Science and Strategy of Bias Reduction,” and “Leading with Empathy”— focus specifically on diversity, equity and inclusion, and go deeply into the content.
  • Courses that fall under this category are not solely dedicated to DEI, but are designed to equip you with skills you can employ in service of enhancing your effectiveness when dealing with DEI-related topics, such as equipping someone with the skills so they can conduct a diversity audit within their organization, helping someone understand what biases are baked into organizational processes, and how can you seek to combat that bias in a rigorous way.
  • These course offerings, such as “Social Innovation: Designing for Change” and “Board Governance of Non-Profit Organizations,” explore the application of various DEI concepts.

Educating, Equipping & inspiring

Reflecting back on my conversations with students who were advocating for the DEI Pathway, they also shared that by creating this pathway, Kellogg is continuing to strengthen its commitment to living out its mission and purpose statement of educate, equip and inspire. This pathway directly aligns with educating and equipping our students to lead diverse teams and create equitable and inclusive environments within their organizations.

My hope is that the DEI Pathway will allow students to see Kellogg as the school that will advance their understanding of what is necessary to leverage diversity effectively, and inspire them to come here.