Working to promote diversity, equity and inclusion is an important part of the Spartan community. MSU’s Diversity Research Showcase, an event dedicated to allowing students the space to share their ideas and work in this space, exemplifies these values perfectly.

The fourth annual Diversity Research Showcase took place virtually on Jan. 22 as part of the university’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration, and two Broad hospitality business seniors presented their research at the competition.

Kailey Konkle, hospitality business senior

Kailey Konkle, who was part of the winning team last year, presented this year on gender differences in the hospitality business industry. Her presentation was titled “Examining Early Career Professionals’ Perceptions of Gender Equality in the Hospitality Industry.”

Under the guidance of MiRan Kim, associate professor of hospitality business, Konkle conducted an online survey for recent hospitality business graduates regarding the state of the industry. In her oral presentation, Konkle emphasized the double standard that most women face in any profession: that it is impossible to have a successful career and be a mother at the same time.

“Through my nearly four years of college, I have learned so much about how valuable surrounding yourself with people who are different from you is, and I think that is what drives me to be interested in learning how we can all be better at understanding that,” she said.

For Konkle, it is important that more research is conducted on the topic of gender inequality in the hospitality industry and that men in the industry advocate for their female coworkers in order to motivate more women to stay in hospitality.

Vinh Le (B.A. Hospitality Business '21) dressed professional behind a front desk at a hotel.

Vinh Le, hospitality business senior

Vinh Le discussed customer delight versus satisfaction. In his presentation, titled “The Impact of Inclusive Leadership on Employee Delight and Team-Member Exchange,” Le analyzed the importance of delight over simple satisfaction, especially amid the pandemic.

With his mentors, Kim and Bonnie Knutson, Le completed a study exploring the impact of a diverse and inclusive leadership team on employee delight, which then turned over into increasing customer delight.

“As a hospitality business student, I see that DEI plays a very important role in the industry,” Le said. “In order to retain talents for hotels and restaurants, the management team needs to have DEI strategies for their employees. DEI research is significant as it provides useful insights for hospitality managers in developing a welcoming and friendly work environment for everyone.”

What struck viewers the most during Le’s presentation was that he discussed how delight is a better measurement of content because it signifies something deeper and unforgettable.

“I believe that nowadays, especially my generation, we always look above and beyond,” he said.

Although Konkle and Le were not selected as winners this year, their work helps to further MSU’s and Broad’s commitment to DEI.

Kim added, “My mission as a teacher is to help students prepare to be the best future hospitality industry leaders. I believe student research can broaden and deepen their understanding of DEI, which is one of the organization’s core values.”