Alumni Ask IIM Directors to Address Lack of Diversity Immediately

"The over-representation of dominant caste groups in the teaching and research positions only endorses the belief of suppressing the historically marginalized populace."

New Delhi: After a faculty member and research scholar raised the issue of the lack of diversity within the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), alumnus have written to the directors of all IIMs ahead of their meeting today (August 28), asking that the matter be addressed urgently.

Deepak Malghan and Siddharth Joshi from IIM Bangalore, who wrote to the IIM directors last week asking that they take action and have also raised the issue with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), have collected data on 512 faculty members at IIMs – and found that only two of them belong to the SC category and not a single person belongs to the ST category. This serious lack of diversity, they have argued, can be traced back to the homogenous nature of students postgraduate students at IIMs, since that’s where most faculty members are chosen from.

The MHRD had written to all the IIMs in April this year asking them to gather information on the representation of marginalised communities within their faculties and also suggesting immediate steps that could be taken, such as assessing the number of faculty members from SC/ST/OBC categories, having more fellows from SC/ST/OBC categories, a special recruitment drive once a year and so on. However, according to an RTI response that Joshi received, only three IIMs had responded as of July 24.

The Global IIM Alumni Network, which has members based across the world, has now taken up the issue, hoping that pressure from former students will convince the directors to take action. They have pointed out that the problem has been recognised for a while, but still no steps have been taken. This, they have argued, not only reveals the elite bias and discriminatory attitude in the institutions, but is also harmful for academics as it does not encourage collaboration between different communities.

Historically, IIMs have followed reservation policy to provide admission to students in their flagship PGP (equivalent to MBA) program. However, the diversity profile at the faculty level is abysmally low with a stark rate of only a few people (less than 3%) coming from SC/ST/OBC profile. Of the survey, only 2 faculties come from the historically oppressed and underrepresented SC communities and there is absolutely no presence of ST faculty in 10 IIMs, OBCs make up only 13. This evidences the blatant caste discrimination in practice.

None of the IIM institutes even mention in their application brochure, that they encourage diverse social profile of the people. The PAN IIM World Management conference held at IIM Ahmedabad in Dec 2016 acknowledged the need to train underprivileged caste people for the faculty positions under its FPM program. However, the initiative has not been undertaken by self-proclaimed leaders of IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta, but by IIM Kashipur, Raipur, etc.

During the conference, IIM Ahmedabad director announced that they want to learn from the experience of IIM Kashipur, among others. This is a welcome gesture which should be implemented by IIM Ahmedabad and should not remain a “rhetoric”, considering the IIM Institute calls itself the leader in the Management education. Further, the institutes have experiences of teaching SC/ST/OBC students for 60 years, and it still has not recognized the usefulness of diversity. For improving the diversity profile at teaching level, which the institutes claim to achieve, they have not even tried to improve the intake level at research positions.

…why the management academics from the IIMs should still be myopic in its academic teachings and research with a restricted homogeneous approach from the communities whose elitism is still rooted in the historical advantages by birth rather than achieved through efforts required for living in a heterogeneous socio-economic world more meaningfully and comprehensively? The over-representation of dominant caste groups in the teaching and research positions only endorses the belief of suppressing the historically marginalized populace. This unbalanced representation becomes a monologue in the class reproducing old models without freshness of diverse group experiences—that is mutually beneficial.

As the alumni of the various IIMs, currently working in the global workplaces under multicultural environment, we firmly believe the better diversity and inclusion can prepare us to perform better in the corporate world. We sincerely appeal to the institutes to make it an institute of national importance, not just by the statute but by its key role in integrating the society and by fulfilling the aspirations of people. This is only possible by the student, research and teaching community representing the nation, and not by keeping an alien place for people coming from the underprivileged section of society.