Indiana University is creating a new research center to address issues of gender inequity, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in the workplace. The Kinsey-Kelley Center for Gender Equity in Business brings together two nationally recognized programs at IU to find solutions to major social problems, brought to the forefront by the #MeToo movement. The university says the goal is to prepare current and future business leaders to create inclusive business operations and safer work environments.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, April Sellers, IU clinical professor of business law and ethics, said it is no longer optional for businesses to ignore these issues.
“Businesses know that they have to be astute now, up to speed, sensitive to, thoughtful about gender issues at work,” said Sellers, who will also serve as the center’s inaugural director. “We are long past the time when it was optional to care about that or pay attention to those. And I think businesses are eager to have the best information about how to do it.”
Established in 1947, the Kinsey Institute focuses on the study of human sexuality. In recent years, its work has further explored issues hostilities and harassment in the workplace.
“We are so excited to integrate the deep knowledge and passion of our talented colleagues at the Kinsey Institute and the Kelley School, together developing and applying research-based approaches to long-standing problems of gender inequity in the workplace and throughout our lives,” said Justin Garcia, executive director of the Kinsey Institute.
Sellers says business schools have an obligation to prepare future business leaders and managers in creating a culture where everyone is valued for their contributions and feels safe in their work environment.
“Sensitivity to gender equity is something that is required for business managers now. And we think it’s important that they [students] learn it during their time at Kelly, otherwise, aren’t we doing them a disservice? Aren’t we not fully preparing them for, frankly, what their bosses expect them to be sensitive to,” said Sellers.
Sellers says Kelley and Kinsey have been collaborating on research and programs in recent years, including classes that teach MBA students to be empathetic managers in equitable workplaces.
This formal partnership will lead to the creation of new courses for students, conferences for people already in the workplace, and other learning opportunities.
Sellers says a modern business education cannot just be about learning about accounting and finance.
“It’s got to be about people skills, understanding the law, understanding best practices in working with diverse organizations.”
Sellers say she expects programming to begin still this year.