2022 DEI Global Case Writing Competition Winners Announced
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Sponsored by U-M’s Ross School of Business and WDI Publishing, the contest broadens the global collection of Cases focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
This year’s second annual DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) Global Case Writing Competition again focused on improving and understanding DEI in the global workplace and attracted nearly double the number of case submissions compared with the first year. This year’s winning cases explored issues including minority management representation for products marketed to black consumers, neurodiversity in the workplace and challenges that women of color face in the corporate world.
The competition is sponsored jointly by WDI Publishing and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. For 2022, a total of 52 cases were submitted to the competition, representing authors from over 40 universities across 12 different countries. Last year’s inaugural competition drew 30 submissions received by WDI Publishing, part of the William Davidson Institute (WDI) at the University of Michigan.
“Not only did we receive more submissions this year from around the world, but we also saw significant increases in attendance at our informational case writing webinars,” said David Wooten, Associate Dean of One-Year Masters Programs at Michigan Ross and University Diversity & Social Transformation Professor at U-M. “Additionally, this year’s submissions were of a very high quality overall and addressed broader facets of diversity such as physical disability, neurodiversity, religion, and accessibility in varied industries such as high tech, retail, academia and agribusiness.”
The winning cases from last year’s competition have already been adopted and taught at universities throughout the U.S. and beyond, said Sandra Draheim, Manager of WDI Publishing, who expects the same trend this year.
“There’s truly a continuing and increasing global interest in the topic of DEI,” she said. “The winners reflect the many forms of DEI and how it permeates all levels and departments of an organization.”
All submitted cases were reviewed using a double-blind process to narrow down the field to a select group of finalists. Those cases were then reviewed and ranked by four finalist judges, who are experts in DEI, case publishing and business education: Kim Eric Bettcher, Director of Policy and Program Learning at the Center for International Private Enterprise; John Lafkas, Senior Editor at Harvard Business Publishing; Greg Merkley, Director of Case Publishing for the Kellogg School of Management; and Kavitha Prabhakar, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for Deloitte US.
The winning three cases, along with honorable mentions and other exceptional work, will be published by WDI Publishing and available for adoption by academic institutions and businesses around the globe. Additionally, the first-place winner was awarded a $10,000 prize, the second-place winner earned $5,000, and the third-place winner received $2,500.
Case Studies as Real-Life Preparation
A case study is an academic practice, but the situations within them are very much rooted in the realities of business. Based on actual dilemmas, these cases elicit layers of practical quandaries, questions and solutions.
“The challenges that these business cases present are thought-provoking, forward-looking, and very representative of the complexity inherent in DEI efforts,” said Prabhakar. “These will serve as a critical tool in preparing and enabling business leaders to challenge the status quo, transform long-held beliefs and behaviors, and build a more equitable future.”
First Place: Navigating SheaMoisture through a Racial Awakening: Cara Sabin’s Authentic Leadership
In a timely and powerful case study, the winners of this year’s competition tackled questions of consumer connection, branding, diverse leadership and racial equity. Stephanie Robertson, Assistant Dean of Community Engagement and Inclusion, and Jeremy Petranka, Associate Dean of Quantitative Programs, both at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, shared the story of Cara Sabin and SheaMoisture’s journey to more authentic representation and relationships.
At the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, consumers and digital advocates called out the disconnect between the white leadership at Unilever, which owned SheaMoisture, and the company’s mission. The winning case covers the journey of Cara Sabin, CEO of Sundial Brands, as she determines how to best respond to a crisis based on racial identity.
Second Place: Perks or Rights? Accommodating Neurodiversity in the Unionized Workplace
One of the major benefits of this open competition is the breadth of experiences and expertise that come to the surface. While questions of DEI are ones that every business person must face, it is critical that the voices of those most impacted by these concerns are amplified. This year’s second-place winner did just that.
“As a person with autism, we often find that our stories and perspectives are filtered through a neurotypical lens,” said Katherine Breward, second place winner and Associate Professor in Human Resources at the University of Winnipeg. “That is one reason why this competition was so exciting for me. It was an honor to be able to tell the story of a worker with autism through the lens of an autistic perspective, one that focused on mutual misunderstanding rather than a default assumption that autistic perspectives are inherently ‘wrong’ or problematic.”
Breward’s case highlights the story of a high-performing employee with autism and her request for a disability accommodation, as well as a promotion.
Third Place: How Can Shoppers Market Create an Inclusive Environment for Women of Color?
This year’s third-place winner confronted the critical issues of DEI intersectionality in the corporate world. Author Poonam Zantye, Director of Business Strategy at Walmart, wrote a case that explored the challenges that women of color face in the workplace and challenges students to develop a multi-disciplinary strategy to address the foundation of their poor leadership representation.
Honorable Mentions: Sexual Harassment and Physical Disability
Two other cases caught the judges’ attention, and both received honorable mentions. The first, Activision Blizzard, Inc.: Facing the Call of Duty With a Laser Focus on Women, dealt with the rampant gender discrimination and sexual harassment at a popular video game company. The second, DEI at Dynamo Relations: The Challenges of Remaining an Inclusive Company, tells the story of a successful employee with a physical disability that may put him at risk during a key assignment.
EXPANDING DEI TEACHING MATERIALS
While the call for DEI efforts across the business world continues to grow each year, the materials needed to teach business students these skills are lacking compared with other types of case studies. This deficit is one the WDI Publishing team is working hard to fill.
Through the DEI Global Case Writing Competition, WDI Publishing has set out to strengthen the public store of educational materials centered on this essential endeavor. In the two years of competitions, individuals and teams from around the world have submitted compelling and impactful cases that push students to expand both their acumen and empathy when grappling with complex DEI questions.
“I feel there’s still a gap in business case studies focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, so through this competition, we’re building a solid collection that the world’s business schools can adopt,” Draheim said. “The 2023 DEI Case Writing Competition, which we plan to launch later this year, promises to expand these educational tool sets even further.”
At the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, unlocking the power of business to provide lasting economic and social prosperity in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is in our DNA. We gather the data, develop new models, test concepts and collaborate with partners to find real solutions that lead to new opportunities. This is what we mean by Solving for Business — our calling since the Institute was first founded as an independent nonprofit educational organization in 1992. We believe societies that empower individuals with the tools and skills to excel in business, in turn generate both economic growth and social freedom — or the agency necessary for people to thrive.