How U.S. Business Schools Are Strengthening the Diversity of MBAs
Diversity in MBA courses is a major advantage for business school students. By joining a diverse cohort of people from different professional backgrounds, cultures, genders, and sexualities, you can learn from your peers and become a more complete business leader.
But America’s MBA programs still struggle to attract students from black and Latin communities in particular. According to the Wall Street Journal, black students make up less than 10% of average business school enrollments in the United States.
Many grandes écoles are mobilizing to attract more candidates from these under-represented groups. In 2020, the Black Lives Matter protests put racial injustice back in the spotlight, prompting U.S. business schools to re-energize their efforts to attract and support a variety of candidates.
On June 2, the MBA Tour is hosting a Spotlight on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Black and Latinx MBA applicants.
Leading US business schools, including Harvard Business School and the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, will feature resources, scholarships, and other opportunities available to black and Latinx MBA applicants. You can register for the virtual event for free.
Here are five ways these business schools are intensifying the diversity of MBAs and working to improve the representation and inclusion of black and Latinx MBA students.
1. On-campus training
In an effort to eradicate racial prejudice – conscious and unconscious – on campus, several leading schools offer diversity and inclusion training to faculty, students, or both.
At Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, for example, every first-year MBA takes training on implicit bias. It helps them understand their own biases and how they can be overcome in a professional setting.
“More recently, our leaders also created a Standing Committee on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion, with working groups focused on the experiences of students, faculty and staff,” adds Shelly Heinrich, Associate Dean of MBA admissions and Marketing Director at McDonough.
Arizona State University (ASU) is another American school that offers this type of training. Students, staff and faculty have the opportunity to attend several inclusive teaching workshops, hosted by the University’s Center for Race and Democracy Studies.
When students and faculty are trained in this way, education becomes more inclusive and MBA graduates enter the workforce with a better understanding of how to tackle racial prejudice in the workplace.
Read: 25 Best MBA Scholarships For Minorities
© Prospanica Facebook
2. Community awareness
Connecting with under-represented groups in the local community is another important strategy that business schools use to recruit more diverse students.
“Over the next few years, I hope we will be able to implement more early engagement opportunities, meet various students wherever they are, and provide them with the guidance and support needed to help them.” navigate the business school application process, ”says Sharon Thompson, assistant dean of admissions and director of diversity initiatives at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
The school has hosted the Duke MBA Workshop for Minority Applicants since 1982, which gives potential minority applicants an overview of the Fuqua MBA application process, learning experience and career prospects.
The event is planned by the admissions team in conjunction with members of the Black and Latino MBA organization.
A number of other large schools are also engaging in exactly this type of community outreach. At Harvard Business School, for example, students from under-represented backgrounds are invited each year to a community event called Summer Venture in Management.
During the week-long event, participants learn management skills through the HBS case study method, while building a strong network with their peers. The experience helps various students get a taste of management training and develop skills that will help them start their careers.
This type of early intervention could help expand the pipeline of diverse MBA candidates.
“The pipeline is not big enough,” says Shelly. “The industry needs to do a better job of building the diversity pipeline at the undergraduate level so that there are more applicants in the potential pool.”
© HBS SVMP recruitment via Facebook
3. Foster a sense of community on campus
Many top business schools recognize the need to foster an inclusive and welcoming community for students from under-represented ethnic minorities on campus.
At the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, the Black and Latinx MBA Organization (BLMBAO) organizes various events, offering professional, educational, academic and social activities to its members, such as conferences and business competitions. BLMBAO raises awareness of the systemic issues facing ethnic minorities, bringing the entire Fuqua community together through these conversations.
“Diversity clubs provide a place of support by being a resource and a place for their members, both professionally and personally. In addition to involving their members, our diversity clubs are impact actors and catalysts for change, ”says Sharon of Duke Fuqua.
At the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, the MBA program office supports underrepresented ethnic minorities by funding diversity-based events and connecting students with employers. There is also a virtual community for minority students, offering career-related online channels, as well as social groups based on inclusion and diversity.
These MBA diversity initiatives are a central part of the business school journey for minority MBAs and their allies, forging an environment where differences are not only accepted, but also celebrated.
© BLMBAO via Instagram
4. Financial assistance
Cost is a major barrier to business school for underrepresented ethnic minorities in the United States. About 80% of black masters graduates and 70% of Hispanic masters graduates used student loans to finance their studies, compared with about 57% of white Americans who took out loans, according to the US Department of National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. Education.
In addition to MBA scholarships for minorities, some business schools, such as the American University’s Kogod School of Business, have set aside funds to help MBAs from underrepresented ethnic minorities complete unpaid internships.
There are also many career conferences with diversity-based organizations such as the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) available for students of business schools in the United States, but these often come with additional costs related to registration fees and membership fees. As a result, schools like Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University offer to fund these fees, so students don’t have to worry about covering expenses.
“We’re happy to finally see more movement and momentum to provide resources and opportunities to populations that historically haven’t had as much access,” notes Shelly of Georgetown McDonough.
Under-represented minorities should not be excluded from important networking initiatives and career development events, so finding ways to break down the barriers that affect these MBAs is a step in the right direction.
5. Rethink the program
Business schools are tackling racial inequalities in a different way by rethinking how the curriculum can be used to address diversity issues.
In the famous Harvard Business School (HBS) case study method – where students take on the role of central figure in real-life business challenges to debate an issue – HBS deliberately developed more case studies using protagonists of color and eliminated discriminatory assumptions about minority groups within the case studies.
“We need more ethnic diversity in our classroom so that we can have more diverse business leaders to drive change in the world,” says Sharon of Duke Fuqua.
Additionally, schools like Georgetown McDonough have introduced courses in areas such as leading diverse teams for performance and impact, power and politics, inclusion and innovation.
By offering these educational classes and modifying existing ones, business schools are signaling that diversity issues must be addressed both inside and outside of school curricula if real change is to take place.
MBA graduates go on to lead influential and powerful organizations across the globe. In order for the business world to become a more equitable environment, these future business leaders must be familiar with diversity and inclusion.
More importantly, a more diverse mix of people with different perspectives and experiences should feel able to take on these leadership roles.
If you are a Black or Latinx candidate, know that business schools want to get in touch with you.
Register for the MBA Tour Spotlight for Black & Latinx MBA Applicants to speak directly with current MBA alumni and business school staff.
This article was written by Shannon Cook and Bethany Garner