PCSB Diverse Case Repository & Case Writing Workshop

Say you are a faculty member who wants to change your course so it is more representative of the diversity of our society and contemporary business settings. You might start by looking at the course’s textbooks, articles, and cases through the lens of diversity and inclusion. Based on a review of textbooks and 60 cases used in PCSB classes conducted by a group of PCSB faculty and alumni in 2019-20, there is room for improvement. This finding is consistent with other nationwide assessments. “Frankly speaking,” PCSB Dean Sylvia Maxfield explained, “diversity representation in business school teaching material is severely lacking. It is a real gap, a real need.”

As an answer to the review of textbooks and cases, the PCSB’s DEI Committee commissioned two graduate assistants, Jewel Williams ’21G and Caroline Finn ’20, ’21G, to develop a collection of course material, especially cases, that showcase diversity.  They were looking, for example, for cases that might highlight women who reach senior positions on Wall Street or become venture funded business founders. This task was more difficult than anyone expected. However, after searching through more than 150 databases and other sources, they were able to identify more than 90 new cases, along with other resources. This case repository is being made available to all PC faculty with the aspiration to share it more widely with business faculty beyond PC.

According to Williams, the repository will benefit the PCSB because the individual pieces teach not only business concepts, but also provide a DEI perspective. Finn commented that she noticed the lack of diversity in materials as early as her sophomore year at PC. “I felt my professors were prioritizing DEI and wanted to integrate it into the classroom,” but the teaching material did not always support their efforts. “In cases, for instance, women were often assistants or secretaries,” she explained. “I’m glad I was able to work on this project and help improve the school that has given me so much.”

However, not all forms of diversity are well represented in available material and not all business disciplines have an equally wide range of options. In seems that business school teaching material has not kept up with the changing workplace.

To help remedy this situation the PCSB and The Ph.D. Project, an organization dedicated to increasing minority representation in the business world by increasing the number of underrepresented minority business professors, hosted a two-session virtual case writing workshop in June. Offered for no cost, attendees were welcomed by Maxfield and by Blane Ruschak, president of the KPMG U.S. Foundation, Inc., a co-sponsor of the event. Participants then heard from leading journal editors about sourcing ideas and material for cases, insights on case publishing, and the importance of case teaching notes. In addition, an interactive case “hackathon” helped participants flesh out case ideas and project plans for writing and submitting a case for publication in a peer-reviewed journal in 2022. More than 90 faculty members from across the U.S., India, and Canada attended.

“Even though these workshops were offered virtually, the engagement was electrifying,” said Maxfield. “We hope to follow up these sessions with another one next year and to continue to expand the availability of teaching material that shows our increasingly diverse student body examples of the increasingly diverse contemporary business world.”