Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in MBA programs

First some DEI definitions.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a term most often used to describe a training format in the workplace. DEI training is utilized to encourage functional knowledge of fellow employees’ identities and how to navigate diversity in an organization[wikipedia]. McKinsey’s research is showing a positive impact of DEI on a firm’s performance. 

  • Diversity: the inclusion of people of different races, cultures, etc. in a group or organization
  • Equity: according to natural law or right
  • Inclusion: the act or practice of including students with disabilities with the general student population

DEI in MBA programs is part of their overall quality, see my post on “How to assess the quality of an MBA program” for more on selecting the right MBA program. I will offer my DEI perspective on selecting an MBA program to apply to. 

Basically I see three factors to consider regarding DEI in MBA programs: 

  1. The Institution
  2. Faculty & Staff
  3. Other Students

Institutions that offer MBA degrees range from elite Ivy League schools to state universities to HBCUs such as Hampton U. to religious institutions like Notre Dame U. Each MBA program will reflect the character of the universitiy’s mission. As you consider MBA programs, ask if your values, identity, and goals align with the institution and will there be a fit? Does the school have an active DEI initiative? Another question to ask, is there a resource that will support me like VCU’s Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity office? Also, be sure to ask questions about how the MBA program will teach DEI principles. There should be dedicated class sessions on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

Faculty and Staff should be diverse. Faculty at many MBA programs tend to be majority white. This website can give you data on diversity by college. For example, at Stanford University the faculty are 65% White, 27% Asian, and 4.6% African American. Also, check out the new Assistant Professors as they will be the core faculty for the future. 

Stanford U faculty profile DEI
source is CollegeFactual.com

What are the other students like? Generally speaking, most MBA students have Type A personality, which means success oriented and highly motivated. At many MBA programs student cohorts are getting more diverse, especially by gender. The website link above can help you see racial breakdowns by university. My recommendation is that you visualize yourself working in teams with these students. If that makes you uncomfortable or is something that you are looking forward to, you now have more data when choosing which program to apply to. 

My conclusion is that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will be something that all organizations will strive to be better at. Learning about DEI in your MBA program will make you a better leader. 

TLDR: Definition: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) matters when selecting which MBA program to apply to. Organizations with diverse leadership teams produce above average results, making DEI important to learn.

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