This work is vital in the current business climate, not only from an ethical standpoint but a business one.
Research has backed up the value of having diverse perspectives in the workplace, meaning business schools must also be welcoming environments for underrepresented groups in order to remain relevant.
The Kogod School of Business at American University (AU) is one example of a school actively engaging in this work.
In 2017, in response to national discourse on the continuing presence of racism on many US college campuses, American University put into effect its plan for ‘inclusive excellence’.
Based on analyses of campus survey data, external consultations, and meetings with over 1000 faculty, staff, administrators, students, and alumni, the plan aims to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the university—an ongoing project that will help AU ‘live up to its values’ as a school.
At Kogod, this translates to increased resources for initiatives that promote inclusion. The school offers an Inclusive Leadership Award for students and faculty who champion inclusive business practices, as well as grants for student organizations and individuals to host events that promote inclusion.
These initiatives quickly moved the business school closer to its goals—the following year, the Princeton Review ranked Kogod third overall for ‘greatest opportunities for minorities’ and fourth overall for ‘greatest opportunities for women’.
A support system in the world of work
Abinmbola Ojo-Uyi (pictured, image her own) was a dual degree student at Kogod from 2013 to 2017, studying law while she was earning her MBA, and she says that she felt supported by students and faculty alike.
“I was actually pregnant with my first child at the time,” she recalls. “I felt the administration was extremely supportive, along with my classmates.”
She felt a strong sense of community among her MBA classmates from minority backgrounds, a bond which persisted after graduating.
“We try to keep in contact, especially the minority classmates from my class at Kogod. We have happy hour once every other month—we have dinner next week scheduled to keep in touch, actually!” she says.
This sense of camaraderie was not only personally enjoyable but a professional asset, as many of Abinmbola’s classmates went down similar career paths.
“Quite a few of us went to Deloitte, so we keep in contact at work as well,” she says. “That connection has helped—especially graduating and navigating into the workforce. It’s been an extra support system.
“I have people I know at similar companies where they are maybe experiencing the same challenges that I am. It’s helpful in getting a different perspective.”
Benae Mosby (pictured, image her own), another Kogod MBA grad, had a similar experience.
“I was in a cohort of about 20–25 students, all professionals with full-time jobs for the most part,” she recalls. “In that group there were four of us who were black, and we obviously formed very tight-knit relationships because we could relate to each other. We shared a lot of the same kinds of workplace experiences and experiences in grad school.
“In terms of support and inclusion as far as my own identity goes, it came from those relationships and relationships with a leader at the university who was a black woman who helped me get experience and exposure to other black MBAs.”
Benae advises that there is still work for Kogod—and business schools more generally—to do in terms of racial inclusion, particularly in terms of diversity among professors. For instance, across all universities and disciplines in the United States, only 6% of college professors are black.
She notes that the area of diversity in which Kogod really excelled was international inclusion—an important aspect, given fears among the public of the US becoming more isolationist.
“They’re very strong from an international perspective, bringing international students into the fold and exposing us to international study opportunities,” says Benae.
“If you want exposure to international business, it’s a great place to be.”
Benae travelled to China for two weeks with her cohort and says that the level of preparation and respect for the culture that the school provided was “superb.”
This sentiment was echoed by Abinmbola, who highlighted the university’s strong alumni network overseas. “Anywhere you go you’ll find an AU alum—I just think that is unmatched,” she says.
Clearly, by doing the work to create a more inclusive environment, business schools deepen the impact that an MBA can have on individual careers, resulting in better outcomes not only for students from minority backgrounds, but for business schools and the business world at large.
*Featured image used under this licence
Kogod School of Business - American University
Clean and well maintained campus
I am completely enamored with this school. The entire student body is driven, inclusive, and highly intelligent. The decision to attend American University is not made haphazardly. Its close proximity to Washington DC, making it one of the most strategically located schools after Georgetown, means it's just a short train ride away. The campus is well-maintained, with mostly attractive buildings, although there are a few that are less appealing. Additionally, there are numerous excellent food options available. The wide range of clubs and organizations to join is remarkable. It is undeniably a school filled with immense passion.
I’m having a wonderful time at American University. I love that I can get to a big city and still feel like a traditional campus. Sincerely, it is a school that may require some adjusting to, but in the end, it is a very good school with numerous opportunities for its students. The atmosphere in AU is so great that it pushes you in a positive way and offers every opportunity you could want.
Amazing helpful professors
American College is an incredible school with astounding teachers. Best professors I could have asked for at an amazing school. My opinion is that American University's professors are its greatest asset. They are extremely intelligent and always eager to assist their students. They go above and beyond in their classes to make sure that their students do their best.
The workload is quite high and AU is definitely not an "easy" school. Students take their studies very seriously and can almost always find a group in the library, DAV, Starbucks or MGC. Courses can be quite ambitious if the right courses are offered and the admissions process can be confusing at times, but with the help of an advisor it is quite easy to navigate. The library can be crowded, and while it's not huge, there are plenty of other places to study on campus. The professors really want to help during office hours and interact with students. I've had good experiences with the professors and workload at AU, but it's an expensive city.
Majoring in Political and International Relations
The instructors are unique and the classes can be boring at times. Check-in is stressful (but it is everywhere). The workload is what I expected. The most popular majors are international relations and political science
I Love Being A Musical Theater Major
I love being a musical theater student, if you want to help behind the scenes, if you want to be an assistant director, if you want to be a director, if you want to write, you can do anything at this academy, very supportive, it's amazing, they are always there to help you. This is their working time. Even after the audition tells you what you did wrong, you can do better, or if you get picked, you know why they picked you, which is great
AU's Business Model
Overall, there were a lot of good opportunities at UA, both in terms of course range and faculty. However, I had a few complete misfires. People who shouldn't have taught at all. Like all universities, AU's business model is to hire hands-on assistants so they don't have to pay them extra or perform well. They are signed and if that does not work, they are not hired any more. The problem with this is that you end up with people who are unqualified and bring their own agendas, biases that may or may not be based on research. Most of the professors were absolutely fantastic.
AU - The Real Problem With Academics
Some teachers are amazing, some awful - typical of any school. But the real problem with AU is that many students don't care about academics as much as other things (eg, partying). The academics are really interrupted by the Greek life and the social life of the students. This makes it difficult for students interested in academics to get the most out of their school experience. Some students do not take classes seriously and do not respect teachers and other students. Courses and opportunities at UA are perfect for people who want to take advantage
American University - The Best Place to Study
They know their stuff - I chose American University because the campus is beautiful and the biology program is relatively small. But after the first semester, I realized that all the professors, especially the people in the science department, are experts in their field. They are enthusiastic and helpful in lecturing; even the TAs who teach the labs are amazing and engaging.