The incoming MBA class to McCombs School of Business will see its highest numbers of women and underrepresented racial groups in nearly 20 years, the school announced in a tweet last week.
Nineteen percent of students in the 2018 class are considered underrepresented, Latino, African-American and Native American, McCombs spokeswoman Catenya McHenry said in an email. This is almost five times as high as the percent of underrepresented students 10 years ago, and a 6 percent increase since last year.
Increased diversity can be credited to strong partnerships with national organizations that focus on increasing racial and gender representation in the business world, as well as connecting current students with prospective McCombs applicants, McCombs assistant dean Tina Mabley said in an email.
“We find many prospective students want to know, ‘Can I see myself here?’” Mabley said. “Getting firsthand accounts from current students offers an authentic perspective.”
Eric Castle, business administration graduate student in McCombs, is actively involved in many diversity initiatives in McCombs and business schools across the country. Castle said diversity is a buzzword in many workplaces.
“We’re finding that … employers are asking for more diversity in the workplace,” Castle said. “That really has to start here in the business school. Those organizations that have better diversity perform better. Ultimately people want to be successful and this is a big key to that.”
As an African-American working in typically less diverse fields such as business and engineering, Castle said he was often one of the very few black professionals in his workplace.
“It’s never been smooth sailing,” Castle said. “I’ve always been in a position where there were very few like me. I’ve never had to deal with overt racism … but it’s difficult when the people who are there don’t have access to African-Americans and their way of life so I end up being sort of the representative of an entire culture.”
Castle said McCombs is committed to ensuring racial headway is being made.
“I’m excited and I’m optimistic about seeing this progress,” Castle said. “If you look across other business schools … they’ll mention diversity as a value, but you don’t see that show up in the numbers. It’s interesting when you get to a place where they put those values into action.”