BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A new research center at Indiana University will address issues of gender inequity, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in the workplace, through an innovative partnership between the Kinsey Institute and the Kelley School of Business.
The Kinsey-Kelley Center for Gender Equity in Business is another example of how IU strives to imagine, define and implement creative solutions for major social problems, including those highlighted by the #MeToo movement.
“The Kelley School of Business and Kinsey Institute partnership to address workplace inequity and sexual misconduct encourages a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion while preparing graduates to be fair and equitable employees and business leaders,” Indiana University President Pamela Whitten said. “The Kinsey-Kelley Center will make a lasting impact through outreach that will build awareness and improve organizational responses to these issues.”
Through research, education and training, the Kinsey-Kelley Center for Gender Equity in Business will prepare current and future business leaders to create organizational cultures and instill individual behaviors that advance equality in business operations and create safer work environments. Setting it apart from initiatives elsewhere is the involvement of the Kinsey Institute, a leader in scientific knowledge and research on issues in sexuality, gender and reproduction for three quarters of a century.
“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 and Ruth N. Halls Professor of Gender Studies.
Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of the Kelley School of Business and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management, said that organizations which are inclusive in terms of gender and racial diversity make better business decisions, have higher profits and are valued as good places to work.
“Education is key in creating a culture where everyone is valued for their contributions and feels safe in their work environment,” Kesner said. “Through the work of the Kinsey-Kelley Center, we can begin to empower women and others to become agents of change.”
The Kelley School has historically been a primary influencer of meaningful change in the business world. For example, it was one of three founding members of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, which has helped more than 10,000 people of color earn a graduate business degree since 1966. The Kelley School was also one of the first participants of Forte Foundation, which supports the advancement of women in business.
The Kinsey-Kelley Center, which will sit organizationally within the Kelley School’s new Institute for Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in Business, resulted from a progressive relationship between the Kelley School and the Kinsey Institute in recent years. The partnership has included joint research projects and a team-taught class that equips MBA students to be empathetic managers of equitable workplaces free of sexual misconduct.
The new center will provide a platform for creating other teaching and learning opportunities, including support for a required course for undergraduates on ethics in business and cases that will explore the ethical and legal landscape of sexual harassment, gender bias in hiring and promotion, workplace relationships and pay inequities.
April Sellers, clinical professor of business law and ethics and the inaugural Pam Meyer Yttri Director of the Kinsey-Kelley Center for Gender Equity in Business, noted that companies now more than ever need to be astute about gender issues.
“The legal landscape has evolved so rapidly in this area, with the U.S. Supreme Court holding just two years ago that federal law covers employee claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and Congress just this spring exempting sexual harassment from mandatory arbitration agreements,” Sellers said. “It’s invaluable to have the experts at Kinsey as our partners in outreach to business in this important area.”
Many responses to the #MeToo movement have not addressed core issues of gender equity. The center will help develop and educate others about best practices and standards in this area, including meaningful education and training for emerging business leaders, as well as those currently in management.
Initial financial support for the center and the establishment of its directorship came from Pam Meyer Yttri, an IU alumna and active member of IU’s Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council. Now retired, she taught school and evaluated students with special needs for 14 years and served on several community and corporate boards, including a 29-year tenure for a national bank.
“I have experienced, witnessed and heard stories about the challenges faced by many women through the years,” Yttri said. “Since I’ve seen corporations often take needed initial steps toward social change, why not gender equity? I thought the Kelley School of Business was a place to start, and as a collaborative effort with the Kinsey Institute, it’s perfect. If we can teach students how to be more inclusive, it will carry over into the business world and beyond. It is the best legacy I can leave.”