The Benefits of Faculty Diversity in MBA Programs

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According to a study by McKinsey, organizations that had a diverse faculty were 21% more likely to be profitable and 33% more likely to outperform industry averages than their competitors.

Workplaces that embrace diversity attract people with different backgrounds and different ideas. Having a variety of perspectives often leads to discovering better ways to solve problems and grow.

But what about diversity at the college and university level? Does diversity in higher education help future business leaders embrace diversity in the workplace?

Lack of Diversity in MBA Faculty

One thing that business schools can do to encourage diversity in the workplace is to increase faculty diversity. Doing so would expose students to different cultures and allow them to more easily propagate diversity in the workplace. While most colleges and universities have done a good job of creating diversity in their student populations, many schools still need to create more faculty diversity. In fact, many colleges still have faculty consisting of primarily white males.

The lack of diversity in faculty is even more apparent at MBA colleges and universities. According to the Global Gender Balance Scorecard by 20-first, 70-80% of faculty at most top-tier business schools are male. That means that women make up only about a quarter of the staff or even less and that number has remained unchanged for more than five years.

So why do we need more diversity in MBA faculty? And how can greater diversity benefits students?

Here are a few benefits of improving faculty diversity in MBA schools.

1. Having diversity among faculty will likely lead to a more diverse student population

Talented students will come from a variety of backgrounds. Since people are naturally attracted to people like themselves, many students may be more comfortable attending a college or university that has a diverse faculty.

Even if a school’s faculty doesn’t have all ethnicities represented, prospective students can still see if the school is making an effort to create a diverse staff. And this effort can make students more comfortable in attending a school’s MBA program.

2. Diversity can allow schools to share a wider variety of ideas

Professors serve as mentors to their students and often share ideas beyond their curriculum. Having professors from different backgrounds can help students gain exposure to different perspectives and different ideas.

Not all students grow up in a place with lots of ethnic and cultural diversity. Creating an environment with a diverse faculty and student body allows students to learn about other people from different cultures in a safe environment.

3. Exposure to faculty from diverse backgrounds can help students adapt to different cultures

Exposure to faculty from different backgrounds will allow students to be more open-minded about different cultures and ideas. These soft skills can translate into a stronger ability to manage and interact with others in the business world.

A diverse faculty can make students more aware of their cultural biases and sensitivities. They can also help students learn tolerance in the workplace.

People who didn’t have exposure to other cultures when growing up may not know how to interact with people from other backgrounds. They may even have prejudices and biases that they are unaware of. Having a diverse faculty can help such students overcome these barriers before they enter the workplace.

4. Diversity can be attractive to hiring companies and recruiters

As more and more companies make it a priority to hire a diverse workforce, recruiters from hiring companies may be more comfortable hiring students from schools that have a diverse faculty.

People often establish rapport with other people that are like them or come from similar backgrounds. Having a diverse faculty and student body increases the odds that a recruiter will find people that they can connect with.

Plus, businesses that are trying to improve workplace diversity may feel more comfortable recruiting from schools that have already created an atmosphere of diversity. Smart business leaders know that experience interacting with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds will carry over to the workplace.

How to Improve Faculty Diversity in MBA Schools

Many factors contribute to the lack of faculty diversity in MBA schools. Many professors are tenured and work for their university for many years, which means that it may take many years for a new position to open up. Another issue is that women might be trying to raise a family around the age that people typically start teaching at MBA programs. Some solutions include maintaining a list of prospective candidates in case positions do open up and also being accommodating to women who are starting families.

Many schools understand the need to improve diversity in their faculty. But most MBA schools still need to take steps to improve diversity within their faculty. Improving diversity will allow schools to better give students an experience that will help them adapt to real-world situations.



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