It’s estimated that by 2025, Gen Z will make up 27% of the global workforce. Their inclusion is sure to disrupt the status-quo, as for Gen Zers success isn’t just defined in monetary terms. As many as 75% prioritize purpose over pay, according to a survey by WeSpire.
If business schools and employers are to remain attractive to this incoming generation, they’ll need to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, diversity, and ethical leadership.
What do Gen Z look for in a business school program?
Gen Z have a unique set of criteria when it comes to choosing the right business school program.
According to a survey by education consultancy Carrington Crisp, 71% of prospective business master’s students say they want course content that reflects global challenges. A further 73% want to be taught ethical leadership, and 77% prioritize diversity and equality.
Their expectations reflect Gen Z’s desire for business school programs that mirror their values and will prepare them for careers that tackle societal problems as well as business problems.
“Younger Gen Z students are not just looking for places to study to then get a career. They want to be able to make a difference whether that is locally, nationally, or globally. They are very concerned with making the world a better place,” says Amber Wigmore Alvarez, chief talent officer at Highered.
How are business schools meeting the demands of Gen Z
As Gen Z increasingly make up the majority of the incoming business school cohort, schools must respond to their demands if they want to attract new talent.
At many business schools, you can now see an increased focus on sustainable practices, social impact projects, and responsible management. As these movements grow this will allow students to hone their skills towards a purpose-driven career.
One such business school implementing new initiatives is ESSCA School of Management. In partnership with Splash Community Projects, business master’s students at ESSCA work on community projects with non-profits upon joining the program.
“ESSCA’s objective is to develop responsible open-minded future managers. [Through these projects] students get to experience first-hand what social responsibility is,” says Marie Courtois, director of student experience at ESSCA.
The school also offers a Master’s in International and Sustainable Management which includes courses such as Energy and Ecological Economics and Global Sustainable Business & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
“It is crucial for business schools to include social impact in their curriculum. As future business leaders, we will have the power and duty to support ethical and social projects,” says Alix Hamoir, current student at ESSCA.
NEOMA Business School is also responding to the demands of sustainability-driven Gen Zers. The school is set to launch a new Master in Sustainability Transformation in 2023.
“We want to target young people who are motivated by the desire to carry out impact actions to support the transformation of companies in the face of the climate emergency and societal challenges,” explains Celine Davesne, NEOMA’s associate dean for programs and international affairs.
In the UK, Bayes Business School recently rebranded to spark a new focus on diversity and inclusion across its programs. Master’s students at Bayes will now take part in inclusive workshops, teaching them how to work with people from different cultures, racial and gender identities, and sexual orientation.
Pursuing a career with purpose after business school
For this younger generation, the business school journey is about more than just big salaries and impressive job titles.
Studying a Specialized Master’s degree or getting involved in social impact projects whilst studying is arming students with the skills they will need to tackle global environment and social challenges in their careers.
“During the project at ESSCA, we instinctively stepped into our roles and collaborated as a team. Knowing we were working for a good cause gave us a lot of drive,” says Alix.
Pursuing a career with purpose after business school can take many routes, whether that’s working for an impactful company, launching a sustainable startup, or securing a role leading diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“Graduates want to work for organizations that do good and that are genuinely authentic. The students we work with can see through ‘greenwashing’ or corporate spin.” says Amber.
In an increasingly globalized business world moving towards social impact goals, Gen Zers have the opportunity to be at the heart of these changes. With business school programs adapting to reflect the values of this younger generation, they’ll be better equipped with responsible management skills to launch a purposeful career.