The Prospective Student Survey quizzed 2,710 business school candidates across the globe about their curricular priorities, with 52% of women citing sustainability as crucial compared with 36% of men.
This focus on sustainability was predicted by business school deans to be a continued trend in graduate management education in 2023.
Beyond the business school classroom, the study showed candidates also expect corporations to demonstrate social responsibility to the countries and people that support them. This is true even for two-thirds of those who do not see sustainability as an essential topic in graduate management education (GME).
However, when asked more specifically about whether corporations should be involved in social and political events or conflicts, candidates were divided across generations, race, and regions.
Among those who view sustainability and CSR as crucial to the curriculum, 47% of Gen Z believe companies should be involved in social or political events, compared with just 35% of millennials.
Gen Z’s drive to pursue a business degree with purpose and to work for companies championing social impact post-graduation is no secret. Another survey by KPMG found that this generation may even reject job offers from companies who do not align with their principles on social impact.
The GMAC study also found 61% of non-underrepresented populations in the US believe companies should be involved in social or political events, compared with just 35% of underrepresented populations. This may indicate apprehension towards the authenticity of corporate engagement, GMAC said.
There were also regional differences, in Europe and North America, there was strong consensus that corporations have a responsibility to be socially and politically engaged, especially from those who see CSR as essential in the b-school curriculum—47% and 53%, respectively.
However, in the Middle East and Africa as well as Asia, candidates were less likely to agree, or remain indifferent.
Sustainability is a hot topic across the business school sphere and many schools have already started to adapt their programs to meet these rising demands both through courses and specializations as well as social impact projects and competitions.