B-Schools Put Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Front & Center

Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.



Eric Askins, executive director of MBA admissions at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, sees value in diversity measures such as Bloomberg’s, and he’d like to see other ranking publications adopt DEI-driven metrics. 

“I think the value is to encourage institutions to measure what matters,” he tells P&Q. “I think you can post on your website that you think something is valuable, you can talk about it, you can put window dressing on it. But if you align incentives to your values, that’s only going to yield better results.

“Ranking and reputation is an important part of what business students look at, and we want to see ourselves as a top program that delivers on all the things that matter to students,” he says.

Eric Askins, Haas

However, he’d like to see the ranking go even further. 

For example, while Bloomberg included results from 2 survey questions on LGBTQ+ inclusion in its “Campus Atmosphere” sections for individual schools, the results are not presented in an apples-to-apples comparison as are the other diversity metrics. 

In the LGBTQ metrics, Haas scores well: 73% of LGBTQ students completely agree and 20% strongly agree that “social activities are generally inclusive towards LGBTQ students.” That compares to 69% of all respondents who completely agree and 21.8% who strongly agree. Similarly, 66.7% of LGBTQ students completely agree and 26.7% strongly agree that “LGBTQ students are given equal/adequate opportunity to participate in discussion and on teams.” Of all respondents, 71.8% completely agree and 21.2% strongly agree to the same statement.

“I think that’s an important space, and I think gender as a spectrum is something that needs to be explored,” Askins tells P&Q. 

Davidson, who has worked in DEI at Darden since 2008, says that a diversity index that focuses on head counts doesn’t show the whole picture. Head counts are variable, and they can be regionally influenced. A school that shows high percentages of women or underrepresented groups in a particular year isn’t necessarily a success. That comes in the trends, in showing improvements year over year.

“Paying a lot of attention to head counts isn’t bad, but it’s just not enough. And it can be misleading,” Davidson says. “If I were a student, I’d love to see a metric like a climate index where schools are reporting their students’ sense of not only feeling like they belong, but feeling like they can excel. If there were an index that was valid and reliable that could really capture ‘Are Black students thriving? Are Hispanic student, women thriving?’ That would be really helpful.” 


Bernie Banks, Kellogg

Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management identifies collaboration as its most cherished value. It’s the school that put teams on the map, says Bernie Banks, Kellogg’s associate dean for leadership development and inclusion.

“That’s why this matters to us. To do collaboration well, you have to be inclusive,” Banks tells P&Q. “We believe collaboration is core to everything you do in an organization. But here’s the bottom line:  In a world that’s marked by increasing diversity, diversity efforts don’t fail because you can’t find diverse people or ideas. They fail because you find them, and then you cultivate them to act in a homogeneous manner.”

Askins agrees. Many of the leaders in finance, technology and other business sectors come from the schools ranked by Bloomberg, and the diversity at those schools inevitably trickles up. A prime example: Haas produces the most finance interns in the West Coast and is among the top schools in producing leaders in the technology sector in the Bay area. 

“I think we all benefit from seeing diverse perspectives in leadership,” Askins says. “But what is the unique value add when it comes to business schools? We are the pipelines that deliver those leaders to business, and we have to take that responsibility seriously.”

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