Top MBA programs worldwide value diversity because the presence of distinctly different points of view usually leads to more enriching discussions in the classroom and beyond. However, there are challenges to creating a diversified cohort, as Diana Sloan, director of Graduate Marketing & Alumni Relations at the College of Business, Iowa State University, points out in a recent article for Graduate Management News.
In this excerpt, Sloan presents three key challenges business schools are facing, along with suggestions for beginning to address them.
- Demographics of Business: Gender inequality in the business arena, starting with enrollment in business school, is the byproduct of barriers that have hampered the efforts of generations of women to join the workforce.(…) While a paradigm shift is necessary, business school recruiters can start by educating prospects about opportunities and resources available to them, and presenting a much needed update in expectations regarding gender roles and work-life balance.
- Geographic Location: Some regions are very demographically homogeneous, making the recruitment of under-represented minorities much more complicated due to the sheer low volume of diverse ethnic groups residing in the region. And, while ideally it should not be a deciding factor for choosing a business school, weather does end up influencing decisions, especially when candidates are choosing between comparable alternatives, one located on a warm sunny coast and the other buried in winter weather for more than half the year.
- Socioeconomic Factors: Typically, immigrant parents come to the United States seeking a better quality of life for their family, often with the ultimate goal of having their children become first-generation college graduates. (…)Knowing the struggles that their parents went through, these first and second generation Americans may be hesitant to burden the family with additional student loans and related costs to finance their education. In these specific cases, researching and providing clear information on partnerships and resources to aid in their success during and after business school may be the best course of action.
Many business school students express a desire for greater diversity when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality in the workplace, as well as extending the concept of diversity to include a broader socioeconomic range. Although there is no magic bullet to create the ideal, diverse learning setting, groups like The Consortium and Forté Foundation have partnered with schools and are making a concerted effort to reach out to women, the LGBT community, and applicants of color. It will be interesting to see how the landscape shifts over the next decade.
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