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Beedie School of Business
SFU Co-op Student

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A group picture full of students smiling to the camera and the author at the centre of the photo
I am now more aware of gender biases and stereotypes and move forward knowing that my knowledge is power.

Have you wanted to have an international experience without having to leave the country? Campus Abroad is a class where SFU Beedie works with an international business school partner to create an awesome class. I had the opportunity to take BUS 491: Diversity Management with Professor Paola Profeta from University Bocconi with many Italian students! 

What is Bocconi Campus Abroad at SFU?

The Beedie website describes the course as follows:

Each summer the Beedie School of Business hosts a special program called Bocconi Campus Abroad at SFU. During this intensive 3 week program students from our partner school Bocconi University in Milan come to SFU to study a particular area of business, co-taught by Bocconi and SFU professors. Students also visit local companies whose practices are relevant to the theories and concepts discussed in class.

I took this course this summer and in my experience it was like having Italy brought to me. It was truly one of my favorite experiences during my undergraduate career! Here are three reasons why I would recommend this experience: 

1. Diverse Experiences: 

In this class we discussed gender equality in the workplace and its correlation to economic outcomes. Instead of just a Canadian perspective, we had the opportunity to learn more about Italian and European culture differences regarding gender issues.

Not only was the class discussion eye opening, but the structure of the class was different as well.  The class was offered for a condensed period of three weeks, which allowed for an enriching experience while leaving room to enjoy the rest of the summer. The hours were also different, as it was every day from Monday to Friday for three hours in the morning. Did I mention we also had an opening dinner banquet at Horizons Restaurant at Burnaby Mountain Park and a farewell boat cruise? You can’t beat that!

2. Company Visits:

One of the most amazing parts of being part of this program is being able to do company visits. We had the privilege of attending two in-house company visits and two at SFU. The beauty of these visits was that every organization had a completely different diversity management policies leading to diverse experiences. 

At The Refinery, we learned that having a smaller organization allows for more flexibility regarding employees and accommodating for diversity. At Vancity, we learned that diversity means more than attention to minority groups, but to those groups that have invisible disabilities & LGBTQ+ communities as well. With the Vancouver Police Department visit, we were inspired by women in policing where they were the first city in Canada to hire female officers. Lastly, at Teck, we were shocked by the low percentage of women (6%) who work in the trades industry. Not only were we inspired by the stories told by professionals in the workplace, but also we were moved by the amount of change that has transpired in the last 100 years.

The highlight of this program for me was the company visits due to the vast experiences and diversity management policies shared, and as a result I was able to gain a better understanding of women at work. (Not to mention that these visits were also notably nostalgic due to taking a big yellow school bus to the various site visits!)

A bus full of students

3. Conversational Aha Moments:

I love learning, interacting and sharing. Being an MIS & Entrepreneurship major, my interaction with Human Resources (HR) classes have been limited. In this special 400-level class, we explored gender diversity, which is an integral part of the workplace. Though there are many reasons that countries have yet to completely close gender gaps, the issues are relevant to all genders.  This topic opened many conversations and opened the door to inspirational moments, which helped me to better understand gender culture and diversity. For instance, I didn’t realize that in Canada for every $1.00 that a male worker earns, a female makes $0.74. Even being in a developed country, gender gaps still exist and are even worse in other countries. For change to happen, we are all part of it.  This course really opened my eyes up to the rest of the world and how women and men can be agents of change to reduce gender gaps for more equality.

For more inspiration, let us turn to Emma Watson, the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, and the HeforShe campaign. Keep an open mind and power on!

Having almost completed my degree and preparing to enter the workforce, this course gave me perspective on diversity management in the workplace. There is a need for more women to enter the workforce and as young professionals, we are the change that we want to see in the world. I am now more aware of gender biases and stereotypes and move forward knowing that my knowledge is power. 

SFU Co-op Student
Clair Lam is SFU Business Alumni who worked for GMR Marketing department at Visa’s FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. She shares her success tips for writing an amazing cover letter. Connect with Clair on LinkedIn.

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