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4 Factors that show that MBA Class Diversity is Overrated: Research how the Group Tasks are Managed

Diversity MBA Program DisadvantagesResearching about the Diversity of the MBA Class is important to get a deeper understanding of how the learning experiences would be. The diversity is not limited to nationality and race, but spans to socio-economic status, gender, professional background, experiences, and goals.  Consider the following factors while evaluating diversity of an MBA program

1) Nationality vs. Origin


Although Business Schools clarifies the difference between nationality and country of origin, the details are often hidden inside the employment report. The summary page will have statistics like MBA class is comprised of 27 nationalities. The important question that MBA Aspirants should ask the team is the breakdown on the nationality and country of origin for this number.

Nationality is the important metric that should be considered while evaluating diversity in an MBA Class. A second generation Chinese-American will have the same working knowledge as any other American student regarding the processes and methodologies adopted in Chinese Manufacturing and Luxury product companies. Whereas a Chinese student with 3-5 years’ work experience in a leading Manufacturing company in Beijing would be exposed to the processes and bureaucracy in the sector.

2) Enhanced Communication Problem

Business Schools take extra effort to familiarize MBA students on working with diverse group of professionals. The teams are carefully picked enhancing the diversity of each group. Although the intentions are good, in real work environment, professionals are unlikely to work with such diverse group of people. Companies are not invested in diversifying the groups. The intention is to improve the efficiency of each group, thereby improving the revenue per person.

Managers understand that group dynamics play a major role in meeting project deadlines and would take all the precautions to avoid conflicts arising due to cultural and language barriers. The MBA Group composition should be limited to 2-3 nationalities as it is often the case in real work environment when companies from two countries enter partnerships or mergers. The increase in nationality in a group has diminishing return as members in MBA project group often spend considerable amount of their time in communication than problem solving.

3) Influence of Background


The background of an MBA student is the second important factor considered for group diversity. The idea is that the strengths of each individual can be leveraged to achieve project goals. But majority of MBA students join the program with the intention of switching careers. The knowledge that the students have acquired through lectures and case method are applied in group tasks. 

A student from finance background would be looking forward to understanding processes and hands-on learning experiences in other functions – consulting, marketing, and technology. But during project implementation, group leaders assign tasks according to each member’s background, limiting the learning opportunities. While doing research, don’t forget to read the blogs and learn about the group tasks. If possible, get in touch with the current student and ask how they apply newly acquired knowledge in other functional areas.

4) Global Exposure

The commitment of the school regarding diversity can be evaluated with their effort to increase global learning experiences. This can be in the form of International Study Tours, Non-Profit global Initiatives, internship opportunities in multi-national companies and diversity of company profiles that recruit from the Business School. The career services team play a major role in this regard.

MBA Aspirants should consider diversity in a more holistic manner and find the value of diversity for achieving their post-MBA goals. Diversity in nationality in itself adds little value. Consider the learning process in groups, and evaluate the exposure that each MBA student gains in cross-functional tasks.

For MBA aspirants interested in learning about multi-national companies that think about Diversity in a holistic manner, DiversityInc has compiled the top 50 Companies for Diversity. They have considered four factors: CEO Commitment, Human Capital, Corporate and Organizational Communications, and Supplier Diversity, for evaluating diversity in a company. The compilation methodology is much more comprehensive. The 2013 survey collected information from 893 companies having at least 1000 employees in a 300-question survey.

Top 25 Companies for Diversity

1. Sodexo
2. PricewaterhouseCoopers
3. Kaiser Permanente
4. Ernst & Young
5. MasterCard Worldwide
6. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
7. Procter & Gamble
8. Prudential Financial
9. Accenture
10. Johnson & Johnson
11. Deloitte
12. Merck & Co.
13. AT&T
14. Abbott
15. Cummins
16. Marriott International
17. Medtronic
18. Kraft Foods
19. Aetna
20. Target
21. Colgate-Palmolive
22. Cox Communications
23. KPMG
24. IBM
25. Wells Fargo    

For the top 50 list, click here.

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