March 1, 2022

Celebrating Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, we offer a few recent MBA related highlights.


National Black MBA Association: Improving African American Representation Within Business Schools


The NBMBAAA recently explored the barriers many African Americans face in pursuing higher business education. The first critical challenge is cost. GMAC’s Key Diversity Statistics reported that more than two-thirds of black candidates plan on taking out student loans, compared with 53% of non-underrepresented applicants. Around 30% of the latter group plan on receiving financial support from their parents to fund graduate school, as compared to 14% of African Americans.


To address the cost issue, NBMBAA has established 40 collegiate partnerships with schools to provide scholarship funding to black students. The collegiate partnerships are designed to close the gap for those individuals who have the credentials but not the resources to pursue higher business education.


Another critical challenge is that dominant stereotypes of African Americans must be challenged to ensure fairer representation. Professor Steven Rogers, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School says he was struck by the lack of black figures in case studies – less than 1% of the case studies published by HBS feature black business leaders.


This lack of recognition inspired him to design the Black Business Leaders and Entrepreneurship initiative at HBS – a course that utilizes cases focused exclusively on black protagonists. One of the case studies includes Ebony magazine. In the spirit of a true entrepreneur, Ebony founder John Johnson identified a distinct lack of black representation within the media and publishing industry. Ebony magazine challenged distorted stereotypes of African Americans perpetuated in mainstream outlets and addressed an underserved market. According to Rogers, Harvard produces around 80% of the case studies used in business schools globally, thereby increasing representation from black protagonists has far reaching impact.


To read the full article, click here.


HBS: Diversifying Our Case Protagonists: How Is Harvard Business School Doing a Year Later?


After George Floyd’s murder and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, HBS examined itself with a critical eye. One of the school’s shortcomings was the same lack of case studies involving underrepresented-minority protagonists that HBS lecturer Rogers discovered. In June 2020, the MBA Student Association took action to create the “Juneteenth Case Pledge”. The pledge asked faculty members to commit to writing a case featuring a Black protagonist by Juneteenth (June 19) 2021, or 2022 at latest.


In addition, the drive for protagonist diversity became a focus for the HBS Dean’s Anti-Racism Task Force, which comprises faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Its seven workstreams included one on the curriculum, which explored the challenge of creating organizational processes and infrastructure to sustainably increase the representation of diverse protagonists in the classroom. The steps that followed included reaching out to the HBS African American Alumni Association, current students, and faculty to identify promising case leads.


As a result of this effort, faculty completed more than 70 cases involving Black or African American protagonists, with another 50 cases still in process. Faculty also completed more than 90 cases featuring protagonists who are LatinX/Hispanic, Asian or Asian American/Pacific Islander, or Native American or other Indigenous people. On average, HBS faculty produce about 400 cases each year, so the 160 completed cases represent a significant percentage of the overall number. In terms of course placement, the number of cases taught in the first year Required Curriculum (in 2020-2021) with Black or African American protagonists increased by nearly 60 percent, giving students more exposure to leaders of varying backgrounds.


To read the full article, click here.