Faculty Spotlight: Professor Celia de Anca

When approaching the subject of diversity in the corporate world, Celia de Anca is looking more deeply and broadly than many other specialists in this area. She sees diversity in terms of three concentric circles or layers and is interested in establishing the different tools needed to train people at these different levels.

On the outer layer, she says, are the marketing and communications activities companies put in place around diversity, while the central layer concerns more practical issues such as encouraging work-life balance, providing maternity leave or accommodating employees with a disability. At the inner core is what culture and gender can bring to the business.

It is this inner core Prof de Anca finds most compelling and is what she believes brings the most value to those companies that get it right. “You can have a flexible place to work, and you need marketing, but if you want to really learn about diversity you have to go deeper,” she says. And for the Spanish-born professor, diversity means more than simply gender or ethnicity. It also encompasses personal characteristics. “Just because you have a woman on the board, doesn’t necessarily mean you have sensitivity,” she says.

Prof de Anca also believes that her work is filling a gap between a strictly academic approach to diversity and the hands-on diversity training conducted by consultants and in-house corporate learning departments. “At business schools, we can give more depth to what corporations are doing but we also need to take on board more of the practicality that corporations and consultants use in their teaching.”

She also spreads her knowledge and experience beyond business school walls. Part of this is reading papers at international conferences and publishing articles in specialist magazines. But Prof de Anca also organises training and mentoring programmes for female entrepreneurs in Latin American and Islamic countries, and has run and managed educational projects in the Middle East for 10 years. She is a member of the Ethics Committee of Morgan Stanley’s Ethics Fund, Spain and a member of the International Scientific Committee of the University Euromed in Marseille, France.



Cognitive Diversity: Your next competitive advantage?

In an increasingly fragmented world, traditional sources of knowledge and innovation are no longer enough. Professor Celia de Anca, Director of the Diversity Center at IE Business School, explains why cognitive diversity – different ideas, perceptions and knowledge – will be a key driver for the fourth industrial revolution.