The business case for gender diversity is clear: greater profitability, creativity, and innovation as well as less risk for companies. So, why do we not see gender equality in most MBA programs or within leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies?
On MBA campuses, we are seeing (some) changes:
- The Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California achieved gender parity in its enrolled Class of 2020.
- The 2018 Women In Leadership Conference at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business focused on advancing the conversation around gender equality and social justice.
- The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania offers a male ally program known as the “22s,” whose name references the $0.22 wage gap between men and women.
But according to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace study, not everything is changing (or changing fast enough):
- Roughly 20% of women say they are often the only woman or one of the only women in the room at work.
- Only 8% of men believe their gender has played a role in missing out on a raise, promotion, or chance to get ahead, whereas 37% of women believe this to be true.
- Changing the name of a candidate from female to male on their resume increased the odds of an interview invitation.
- Of the women surveyed, 64% stated that microaggressions are a workplace reality. For example, research showed that women are twice as likely as men to be mistaken for someone in a more junior role.
To see real change, gender equity needs to be on everybody’s mind. As many of you enter MBA programs or reenter the corporate world after earning your MBA, we encourage you to advocate for gender equity. The resources developed by Forté Foundation’s Men as Allies Initiative, including an MBA Toolkit, a Male Ally Toolkit, and a corporate program, are a great starting point. In addition, Forté Foundation makes the following recommendations:
- Learn about the business case behind gender equity and the need for male involvement.
- Understand gender-supportive behaviors in the classroom, on the job, and elsewhere. Amplify women’s voices; notice team dynamics, and ensure credit for work is attributed correctly.
- Get involved. Share your perspective, and participate in the conversation. Consider starting a male ally group at your business school. Understand what being a male ally at work really means. Sign up for unconscious bias training sessions. Encourage diversity on interview slates.
You can learn more by exploring the Forté Men as Allies Initiative’s research and blog as well as the following articles and books:
- “How Men Can Become Better Allies to Women” (Harvard Business Review)
- “When Talking About Bias Backfires” (The New York Times Opinion)
- Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women
- “To Advance, Women Leaders Need Sponsors, Not More Mentors” (Wharton@Work)
- McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2019 | 2018 | 2017