College of Business Hosts Diversity Business Plan Competition
Iowa State University College of Business
COLLEGE OF BUSINESS HOSTS DIVERSITY BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION
AMES, Iowa — Fostering diversity and recognizing individual differences has become a critical component of success in industry today. Smart companies seek to create an environment of high productivity that leverages the strengths of every diverse individual.
The College of Business at Iowa State University wants to educate its students on the importance of diversity in the workforce. Thanks to an innovative idea from one of its alumni, business students will have the opportunity to create diversity initiatives and implement them in the community.
On Monday, November 10, the college will host final presentations for the ichooseDiversity Business Proposal Competition, sponsored by Cargill and coordinated by the College of Business Diversity Advisory Committee. The presentations will take place from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in room 3164 of the Gerdin Business Building. The event is free and open to the public.
College of Business students were invited to form teams of three students apiece and submit a proposal for an initiative that will foster diversity in the college, at Iowa State University, or in Ames community. Ten teams submitted written proposals, and four teams were selected as finalists. They will make oral presentations on their proposals before a panel of judges from Cargill, Iowa State, and the City of Ames.
Students on the winning team will each receive a $1,000 stipend, and the team will receive funding of up to $2,500 to implement their proposal. In their proposals, students were asked to consider their overall goal, the budget to fund their proposal, marketing tactics, time and resources required for implementation, sustainability, and how to assess the outcome.
The central initiatives in the four finalists’ business plans are:
Create a relationship between diversity associations at Iowa State and the counties in Iowa that have more diverse populations, which could aid in diversity recruitment and community involvement by Iowa State in those areas.
Hold a festival in Ames showcasing the unique cultural backgrounds of those in the community. The festival would include representatives from all Ames organizations, including Ames High, Iowa State, and local vendors.
Develop a program to increase the retention and advancement of multicultural students within the College of Business.
Create an educational program that would give students the skills to manage diversity in social and business settings.
The competition was the brainchild of College of Business alumnus Ha-Keem Abdel-Khaliq, who earned his undergraduate management degree and MBA from Iowa State in the 1990s. He is now a sourcing specialist in Cargill’s recruiting department. The idea, he says, was borne out of Cargill’s own diversity initiatives but is directed specifically toward college students.
“The focus is on diversity,” said Abdel-Khaliq, “but the teams don’t have to be. We want to be as inclusive as possible.”
Abdel-Khaliq hopes his idea will not only generate interest among college students in how to improve diversity in their communities, but also serve as a way for Cargill to connect with campuses.
“My goal is to report back to Cargill and build a case for why we should continue to do this at Iowa State and consider doing this at other places,” he said.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the program,” said Mark Peterson, the college’s director of graduate career services and member of its Diversity Advisory Committee. “Other people on campus and in the community have asked us about this, and we’re all interested to see what ideas our students come up with.”