Emerging Business Leaders Hero

Preparing tomorrow’s leaders – today

The Emerging Business Leaders (EBL) program at Gies College of Business is a summer program designed for high-achieving Black, African-American, Hispanic, Latinx/a/o, and Native American students entering their senior year of high school.

Program Dates: June 25 - 30, 2023

Program Activities

  • Interactive discussions featuring Gies Business staff, students, and alumni around career possibilities in business and the Gies student experience 
  • Work in groups to solve business problems
  • Learn about college admissions
  • Have fun and make new friends

Application Criteria

The EBL Program is open to underrepresented students entering their senior year of high school. You must have:

  • 3.2/4.0 GPA or higher
  • Demonstrated leadership through extracurricular, volunteer, or work experiences
  • Ability to attend the entire program (June 25 - 30, 2023)

Admission to the Emerging Business Leaders program does not guarantee admission to Gies Business and/or UIUC.

Program Benefits 

All students who successfully complete the Emerging Business Leaders Program will receive a University of Illinois application fee waiver. Students who apply, are admitted, and enroll into Gies Business will qualify for a renewable scholarship up to $5000 to help cover their academic costs.

Gies News and Events

DEI policy set? Your job’s not done

Dec 4, 2023, 08:25 by Aaron Bennett
Firms that invest time, money, and resources on hiring diverse employees but don’t implement DEI-driven workplace policies will undermine their diversity recruiting initiatives, according to a new study.

Firms that invest time, money, and resources on hiring diverse employees but don’t implement DEI-driven workplace policies will undermine their diversity recruiting initiatives, according to a new study by Gies College of Business professor Mackenzie Alston.

“It’s possible your diverse hires are not being assessed by the same standards or don’t have sufficient access to opportunities,” said Alston, an assistant professor of finance who authored “Eliminating Discrimination in Hiring Isn’t Enough” for the publication IZA World of Labor. It explores challenges minority employees may face during the post-hiring stage and why some minority employees might leave their companies – voluntarily or involuntarily.

“A lot of times job evaluations are based on subjective measures, and that opens the door to bias. If you only interact with certain people, you might be judging those you don’t see poorly even though they're perfectly good employees,” said Alston.

While 64 percent of organizations say DEI is important, 62 percent said they have allocated little or no resources to it, according to a study from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). And PEW Research reports that while a majority of US workers say focusing on DEI at work is a good thing, a relatively small share places great importance on diversity in their own workplace.

Alston’s paper looks at the unique barriersminority employees may face after they’ve been hired – barriers which could lead them to quit due to job dissatisfaction or get fired because of biased job assessments. It is based on a review of several published papers that analyzed survey and administrative data as well as field experiments.

“It's fascinating to study how people's identity affects all aspects of their lives including their lives at work,” said Alston. “How do people interact with you? How do you interact with others? How does that affect your prospects at work? How easy it is for you to get a job and get promoted to the next one?”

Based on her paper’s conclusions, Alston suggests three strategies that can contribute to creating a working environment that fosters diversity:

1. Randomly assign mundane tasks
You want the best person to do a job, but if that task isn’t helping them perform what they’ve been hired to do, be fair about it.

“Everyone can learn how to get slides projected to a conference room screen and make sure the room is ready for a meeting,” said Alston. “Don’t always assign that task to the same person. Everyone’s busy. If there is a simple task that everyone can do, then more people can and should complete it.”

2. Give credit where it’s due
It is important that employees are given proper credit for their contributions and hard work. Unfortunately, studies continue to show that women may be given less credit for group work and employers may not weigh objective measures of performance the same for Black and White employees.

Alston points to a trend she’s seen recently of presenters following their title slide with one that shows the photos and titles of the entire team that worked on a project.

“This reinforces that even though they're not in the room, there often are many more people from many backgrounds working on a project than the one or two people who present the findings,” said Alston.

3. Schedule networking during business hours
Alston says it’s important to break down the many barriers to participating in networking and mentoring events at work.

“As an employee, you wonder if you’ll fit in and how to juggle the time these events take away from today’s assignment,” said Alston. “As a supervisor, make explicitly clear that you support this type of involvement and encourage everyone to participate.”

Affinity groups can also be beneficial for minority employees. But Alston also advises that management participation in the day-to-day of DEI work groups may not be the best way to facilitate vulnerable, honest conversations. It’s important for management to know about the issues that come up and partner to find solutions, but those meetings should be separate so that employees can feel comfortable speaking freely and develop a sense of community.

“With DEI initiatives, it’s important to remember that one size doesn’t fit all. Some of your employees will benefit from making connections with people who can help them grow and move up the professional ladder. Others really need someone they can ask ‘Does this email sound OK? If I skip this meeting, will I be fired?’” said Alston. “It’s important to listen to people and understand they may not know themselves what they’re missing.”

Alston said her next research topic will likely focus on the benefits of working from home for underrepresented groups. A recent study found only 3 percent of Black knowledge workers wanted to return to full-time on-site work as opposed to 21 percent of White peers while another found BIPOC employees all preferred hybrid or fully remote work at higher rates than White workers do.