In the past two years, Haas School of Business has experienced a downturn in enrollment of students from underrepresented ethnic groups for its full-time MBA program and has recently released a report intended to address this decline.
Among the 291 students in the MBA class this year, a mere six students are Black. Numbers have declined since 2016 when there were 19 Black students enrolled in a class of 252. Haas’ October 2018 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan responds to this decrease in representation.
The plan focuses on three specific objectives: rebuilding trust with students from underrepresented ethnic groups, making Haas a community that underrepresented students want to join and increasing the yield of underrepresented students at Haas.
“We should never become comfortable with a norm of underrepresentation. … Our slowness to act broke trust with our students and alumni. We are deeply sorry about this,” the action report reads.
The Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership, or EGAL, at Haas, was founded in November 2017 to attract students with backgrounds in diversity inclusion to the school. The center aims to graduate 1,000 leaders a year who are “equity fluent” into the business world, according to Kellie McElhaney, the center’s founding director. EGAL has about $3 million in funding for such equity work.
“The opportunity to engage underrepresented minority applicants and current students will be spread more equally through leadership and students, whereas before, students took most of that load,” McElhaney said in regard to Haas’ action plan.
McElhaney emphasized how lacking institutional support for underrepresented populations has burdened students with the responsibility of such advocacy. The Haas action plan aims to balance these efforts between students and faculty to foster more diversity and inclusion.
Haas aims to change MBA admissions criteria to consider an applicant’s skill set and experience in diversity and inclusion. It also calls for establishing a Diversity Admissions Council and a director of diversity admissions.
“When talking about how the school advertises itself to prospective students, having those people in place is critical to at least showing that this is a home to them and somewhere where they can succeed,” said Matthew Hines, co-president of the Black Business Student Association, when highlighting the importance of diversity officers in Haas admissions.
Haas additionally pledged to increase scholarship funding, reduce barriers for applying to scholarships and adopt a stronger approach to recruit students from underrepresented ethnic groups.
Scholarships will be introduced “earlier on to make a bigger impact, so students actually come to Haas,” according to Courtney Chandler, chief strategy and operating officer at Haas.
Haas will also hire a chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, provide increased funding for diversity initiatives and change hiring practices to encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds.
The officer will report directly to the dean of Haas and be responsible for diversity, equity and inclusion schoolwide, according to Chandler.
“No tangible action has been taken yet, but at least we have a path forward to address this issue,” Hines said.