“I think that it also shows that they are making strides to be a more inclusive community and to sort of adapt to how the world is changing and becoming more diverse and globalized,” Strickland said.
Strickland said that the Community Equity and Inclusion Board within the business school, comprised of both students and faculty, came up with the idea to display a second set of flags about a year ago. The Board began to write a proposal for their idea in July 2018.
The proposal was presented to different committees within the school before reaching Shackelford's office.
According to its website, Kenan-Flagler is committed to welcoming students from a wide spectrum of racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, identities and sexual orientations.
Shackelford said he has witnessed the nationality flags welcoming international students because seeing their flag makes them feel part of the school's community. Shackelford hopes the new flags will do the same and serve as a visual reminder of the school’s commitment.
“Visibility is incredibly important, particularly for the LGBTQ community, where oftentimes this aspect of someone’s identity can be invisible, and so visual reminders or visual symbols of support, affirmation and inclusion are essential to making sure folks feel like they are in a space to be their full authentic selves,” John Nelson, a second-year MBA student and president of Kenan-Flagler Pride Club, said.
The business school expects to add more identity flags in the upcoming years to reflect the changing student body.
“I think the message is that the business school is committed to supporting all students no matter what their background or experiences in life might have been," Nelson said. "But there is a space and a place for you in this school, and I think that it is making tangible and visible what has for quite some time been culturally a part of the business school community. The business school today is incredibly inclusive. It is incredibly collegial and supportive and this helps visually reaffirm and show a continued dedication to that underpinning current in the school’s culture.”