A recruiter’s perspective on the state of diversity in the MBA industry.

For the past 14 years, I have been recruiting grad students for more than 50 MBA schools. Most of them reside in the US and a few in Europe. I have recruited military officers for several reasons. Aside from being leaders and desirable students, one reason is because the military is the largest diversity employer in the world. Two years ago, some of the better MBA schools I work with including UCLA’s Anderson School of Management told me they have enough military officers. They encouraged me to start recruiting women who are significantly under-represented in MBA programs. So, along with Military MBA, we started Women.mba.

 

As a result of these ongoing activities, I have experienced diversity recruitment in the MBA industry.

Here are some of my observations:
– Most schools in embrace diversity. And, why wouldn’t they?
– Many bschools cover the basics. For instance, they support diversity with student groups or alumni consisting of people having color, gender, or lifestyle from those specific populations.
– Fewer MBA programs offer more substantial support in the way of commitment (e.g, fair-share application acceptance or opportunities to interview) and real financial resources (i.e., discounted tuition, scholarships, internships, endowments, jobs).
– Rarer still do any MBA schools see diversity as a strength and opportunity to improve the development of students and better the quality of staff, faculty, administration and delivery of their programs.

As schools have become more global in their reach, recruitment has followed this trend. Irrespective of national politics or global economic views, enrollments of mixed color and cultures are increasing in grad school programs. And, as the trend continues, all things MBA are evolving.

Greater acceptance, support and increased enrollments of more women is what MBA schools are missing in their diversity recruitment. Why is it that 33% more women graduate with a bachelor’s degree (3 Women: 2 Men), yet 100% more men (2 Men:1 Women) are enrolled in MBA school? Because, it’s acceptable and easier not to change. So, we live with it and make it the status quo. Overall, according to GMAC who operates the GMAT exam for MBA admissions, 38% of incoming MBA candidates are women. Although, women are advancing in every other field of pursuit and endeavor, this percentage hasn’t changed in 5 years. There needs to be more urgency in academia and the MBA world. We need to be motivated by the imbalance and act upon closing this divide.

Integration is the ideal state. However, the reality is that it remains a difficult course and often proves an elusive goal.

Still, if we as an industry maintain our resolve, act upon our beliefs and set out to move the needle by a few percentage points in areas of where it’s most acute good outcomes will occur. We can improve diversity and representation, and through the process help bring the MBA into the 21st Century.

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