Written on 06 Mar 2020.
In the first of a series of articles to celebrate International Women’s Day we sit down with Sandra Richez, EDHEC Global MBA Programme Director, to talk about our collective responsibility for equality in the workplace, why tackling gender exclusivity in leadership must start in the classroom, and how important it is that women get equal ROI on their education.
I take it to mean that we are all equal, and collectively responsible to make change happen. Anyone who has done one will tell you that an MBA is a great leveller. There is no hierarchy. Students in the cohort operate on an equal level, and there should be no one authority or ‘voice’ that stands out in the group. Women get to experience making decisions on equal footing with men and vice versa.
With 33 nationalities in a class of 70 people, the topic of gender diversity is often perceived differently from one culture to the next, so the more diversity you have, the fewer opportunities there are for ‘otherness’ to gain traction and become a problem. If everyone is different, they are operating on an equal level because you take away an us-and-them mentality. And this is why gender equality must be as part of an over-arching policy on all types of diversity.
Yes. Someone who may not normally feel empowered to speak up in their own culture will often be energised here on the Global MBA to do just that, and they get plenty of opportunities to practice this in the neutral space of the classroom. As an educator that’s very rewarding to see. A woman with leadership training under her belt will hopefully feel emboldened and more prepared to speak up and get their voice heard when they return to the workplace.
A report from Wharton on gender in the boardroom in 2017 highlights ‘gender exclusivity in leadership’, and I think that this really is the glass ceiling that we need to break. Also, McKinsey’s Women Matter study states that it will take 100 years to reach gender parity in the C-suite based on current hiring trends. It’s with powerful statements such as these that prove we need to face up to our collective responsibility to enact change.
But it’s not just a lack of gender diversity that is a problem in leadership positions. Even when women obtain leadership roles there is still the problem of the gender pay gap.
For sure as educators, we have a responsibility to make sure that all students - men and women - study gender parity as part of the curriculum, especially in terms of the impact it can have on GDP and bottom line. But it can also be addressed in another way that has a direct impact on women studying on an MBA, and that’s by launching a scholarship that directly addresses the gender pay gap.
We know that globally women have about an 18-20% pay gap by the time they are 30-35 years old, which is coincidentally the average age range of our candidates. So, it became obvious to us that if we want to encourage women onto the MBA, we must acknowledge that in real terms, they probably have 18 to 20% less money to pay for their studies than male candidates. We quickly realised that this is what we needed to address.
The diversity scholarship automatically gives all women a 20% reduction, there isn’t a cap on the number of the scholarships we hand out; it’s for every woman that meets the selection criteria and is accepted on the programme.
Exactly. Because of the 20% pay gap, you could say that women spend comparatively more than men for their MBA education. While having an MBA helps narrow this pay gap, women may need to negotiate harder just to get similar outcomes to male peers. And while ROI is about much more than salary, it is still an important measure and a key area for gender equality.
It’s important to me that we make leadership education equally accessible to women, in order to raise up the next generation of female leaders; it makes financial sense to both the candidates on a personal level and to business in general. We need to strengthen female talent and make sure that both men and women start out on an equal footing.
At EDHEC, we know that embarking on an MBA is a major investment and we support you through a transparent scholarship system. As well as the Diversity scholarship there are merit-based, nationality-based, and a “Make an Impact” scholarship that aids those with potential in sustainability. Contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.