Creating A Campus And A Culture Where All Students Belong – Meeri Korpi, and Alexei Gloukhovstev
To mark PRIDE month, we’re sharing the stories of inspirational business school students and alumni around the world who are using their business school experiences to make the world a more inclusive, place.
Meeri Korpi, is mid-way through her BSc in Marketing at Aalto University School of Business, and an Executive Board Member at KY – a 3000 member-strong association supporting business students at Aalto University. In her role, Meeri is responsible for communications and DEI initiatives.
Alexei Gloukhovstev is an Assistant Professor in Marketing at Aalto University School of Business and chairs the School of Business’ EDI Committee, which includes two representatives of the KY student association as full-time members. Together, Alexei and Meeri are working to ensure that every student feels they belong, and can use their education as a launchpad to success.
What specific initiatives or programs does Aalto University School of Business have in place to support and empower LGBTQ+ students on campus? How does this specific initiative support LGBTQ+ students at the School of Business?
Alexei: Like all other Schools at Aalto University, the School of Business has an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee that consists of faculty representatives from each department as well other organisational units such as HR and communications. The EDI committee prepares an annual action plan – its purpose is to foster an equal, diverse and inclusive community at the school by identifying specific areas for improvement as well as actions to meet these goals.
With regards to supporting students, in the last couple of years the committee has focused on building EDI awareness and capabilities among the school’s faculty, promoting equitable processes and practices for both faculty and students and fostering an inclusive learning environment by incorporating EDI themes into the School’s study programs, teaching inclusive teaching practices.
Meeri: The Aalto University Business Students Association (KY) exists only for and because of its members. This means supporting and standing alongside the LGBTQ+ community and critically viewing and developing our everyday actions, attitudes, and overall atmosphere. The KY Code of Conduct forms the basis of KY’s principles and values, and our dedication to providing harassment-free spaces for everyone.
At KY, we know that not everyone identifies with a binary gender. If asking for gender in surveys is necessary, diverse options are offered. If gender is irrelevant in surveys, it is not requested. Furthermore, KY promotes gender equality in business partnerships and actively resists heteronormativity in communications. KY’s DEI Task Force continuously promotes and develops equality and inclusivity in the community.
How important do you feel it is for business schools to have these types of initiatives?
Alexei: It is absolutely crucial that we are able to provide safe(r) spaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community on campus, and that we support inclusion for gender and sexual minorities in our classrooms. All students should feel like they belong on campus and in the classroom, and that they are able to fulfil their professional, educational, and social aspirations fully without any barriers or hindrances.
Meeri: At KY’s events, our members should feel comfortable being who they are. It is extremely important that everyone is treated equally in the whole community, regardless of their sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
What more could be done to create a more inclusive environment in business generally for LGBTQ+ people?
Alexei: Much of the EDI Committee’s work is data-driven. For example, we conduct surveys among students and analyse feedback from courses. Recent data suggest that, unfortunately, students still sometimes face heteronormative assumptions in everyday discourse on campus and even inappropriate language in their everyday lives. These are important matters that we need to continue to address by raising awareness of these issues and continuing to educate the Aalto community about inclusive practices on campus. It is important to remember that in addition to using data, the foundation of improving inclusivity lies in assessing issues from our students’ perspectives.
Meeri: We are continuously working towards building a more inclusive culture in the community by analysing the wants and needs of our members.