Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include information about the winner and finalists. Scroll down to the bottom of the article for more information.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Teams of students from 30 colleges and universities are coming this weekend to the Indiana University Kelley School of Business to compete at the 2024 National Diversity Case Competition.
The competition, which is held the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, will bring together 118 students who represent some of the best and most diverse talent in undergraduate education from across the nation.
Among the participating teams are four from historically Black institutions Claflin University, Delaware State University, Howard University and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Students are challenged to solve diversity-related business issues and share ideas while benefiting from workshops and networking with companies that value inclusion. This year, the competition will focus on a case provided by AbbVie that focuses on improving the level of diversity participation in clinical trials.
The company is looking for solutions to de-stigmatize clinical trials and help increase participation, particularly among underrepresented groups.
Many students find that participating in this event leads to leadership opportunities, internships and jobs after graduation. They will compete for $22,000 in prize money.
Each four-student team must include two members from an underrepresented population. Among the 118 students participating, 41% identify as African American, 28% identify as Hispanic, 18% identify as Asian and 12% identify as multiracial and 6% identify as Caucasian.
Those identifying as women account for 55% of the competitors and those identifying as men, 45% percent. The average of grade-point average of participants is 3.5.
“For 13 years, the National Diversity Case Competition has provided a unique opportunity for students representing diverse universities from coast to coast to gather in an inclusive environment to celebrate diversity and belonging in business through friendly competition and positive interactions,” said Robert Thomas, associate dean for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at Kelley.
“This energizing experience reinforces the power of inclusive diversity and facilitates connections between extraordinarily talented students. We are proud that the event also gives our corporate partners an opportunity to observe and engage with a wealth of diverse talent,” added Thomas, also a professor of business law and ethics and the Charles M. Hewitt Professor. “Students leave with experiences, new connections, and friendships that continue long after the competition.”
Events begin Friday, Jan. 12 with a networking session and dinner. Competition begins early the following day, with the schools divided into several brackets. The winners in each bracket continue to the finals. Prizes are awarded to the winners and finalists.
Judges will be looking for creative solutions that leverage the students’ diverse backgrounds. Last year, a team from Texas A&M University came in first, followed by those from the University of Richmond and Boston College.
Four Kelley undergraduate students won an internal case competition last semester to earn the right to represent the school at the National Diversity Case Competition. They are Malyka Abbas, a finance major from Glenview, Ill.; Isha Elandassery, an accounting and finance major from Naperville, Ill.; Arman Lone, an accounting and finance major from South Barrington, Ill.; and Arinjay Aangiras, a finance major from Bangalore, India.
In addition to AbbVie, a platinum sponsor, other corporate partners provide substantial financial support for the event, which includes travel reimbursement and lodging and meals for students to eliminate barriers to their participation. In addition to the competition, students benefit from workshops that are designed to support career opportunities for diverse students in Fortune 500 companies.
Other corporate supporters are Altria, Delta, Forvis and EY and KPMG at the diamond level; AbbVie, Bank of America, Crowe LLP and GE Healthcare at the gold level.
In addition to Kelley, schools sending teams this year are: Boston College, Bucknell University, Claflin University, College of William & Mary, Delaware State University, DePaul University, DePauw University, Drexel University, Georgia State University, Howard University, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University, Texas A&M University, Tulane University, University of Arizona, University of Buffalo, University of Denver, University of Iowa, University of Kansas, University of Michigan, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, University of Oregon, University of Richmond, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, University of Washington and Xavier University of Louisiana.
The team from the University of Las Vegas won the 2024 National Diversity Case Competition, followed by teams from the University of Washington, which came in second; the University of Texas at Austin, third; Purdue University, fourth; Howard University, fifth; and Texas A&M University, sixth.