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Inclusivity and GBSN

For Otago Business School, it was essential to fully integrate the First Peoples of New Zealand in its new Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr) program. To deliver on such a promise and others like it, the school has two senior leadership positions, Associate Dean Māori and Associate Dean Pacific, charged with incorporating perspectives in the design and operations of everything the school does. One tangible indicator of their work: the hiring of two Māori professors with responsibilities across the entire BEntr program.

My colleagues, Maddie and Gianluca, and I interviewed the program head, Dr. John Williams, and six other leaders in entrepreneurship education from GBSN Member Schools in Bangladesh, Tunisia, and the United States. We were building an interactive workshop on entrepreneurship education for three universities in Papua New Guinea, which we delivered in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) earlier this month. The cases we prepared from the interviews, especially the one from Otago, sparked important conversations amongst the participants from Papua New Guinea, partly for their interest in empowering women, as well as indigenous people to be entrepreneurs.

These kind of conversations are natural in the GBSN community, where initiatives like the BEntr program are a high priority. Indeed, inclusion may be the single word that best defines GBSN and the work that it does. It is an active ingredient in the glue that binds our schools together. It is evident in our approach to international development, which is grounded in empowering people more than in transferring solutions. Inclusion is embedded in our mission “to improve access to quality, locally relevant management and entrepreneurship education for the developing world.”

Inclusion also drives our strategic direction, which is about gaining strength and increasing impact through a larger and more diverse network. While all of our members are highly motivated by the GBSN mission—it is why they joined—each brings distinctive strengths to achieving it. At GBSN, we believe online institutions, liberal arts schools, and corporate universities can all play an important role in our mission, complementing the work of more established, classic business schools.

A more diverse network means a more innovative one- and a more powerful one when it comes to collective action.

But the benefits of diversity cannot be achieved without inclusion. It is said that “diversity is getting invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.” At GBSN we’ve been working hard to ensure our members are connected and actively engaged. We now have programs that involve students in challenging international experiences, faculty in impactful research and development activities, and leaders in fostering for sustainable development—all driven by our core purpose and values. We invite you to visit our website and take a look at the growing number of projects and programs engaging our members.

Start with GBSN Beyond, which we invented to engage a wider range of institutions and people. It is the only major event in the business education industry that involves students, faculty, and leaders in business schools in experiential activities. And it is the only one that explicitly explores the nexus between higher education, business, government, and civil society. We want to draw special attention the Leaders Track featuring entries to the GBSN-EFMD Going Beyond Awards, which is open to all business schools worldwide regardless of whether they are members of GBSN. We are particularly interested in receiving entries and nominations from schools in emerging economies.

At GBSN, we believe it is also our responsibility to help business schools to strengthen their own diversity and inclusion initiatives. But how do you do that with such diverse set of schools that operate in so many different contexts? And how do we do something that actually works, when academic research shows that DEI training programs have not been particularly effective in changing behaviors?

We did extensive research and learned from our experiences globally. By focusing on belonging and helping the staff and faculty to master a simple set of behaviors, we assist schools everywhere to be more inclusive and become stronger, more impactful leaders in the communities they serve. Our custom program, offered in partnership with EPC Learning Labs, is called “FOSTERing Belonging™ in Business Schools” and is available now. Visit the program’s webpage to learn more about what makes it work and contact us about building a program for your school. Our solution for schools bridges the gap between diversity and inclusion by helping the staff and faculty of business schools to foster a stronger sense of belonging for their colleagues and students.

Dan LeClair


Dan LeClair is CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN). Widely recognized as a thought leader in management education, Dan is the author of over 80 research reports, articles, and blogs, and has delivered more than 170 presentations in 30 countries. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist.