Graduate Management News

April 2015

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Diverse and Inclusive Candidate Recruiting

There are layers of diversity within a business school applicant pool and classroom.

Diversity Icon

Today, greater focus is being placed on creating a campus with a culture that’s inclusive for people across categories of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic background, educational background, nationality, age, and physical ability. And, graduate business schools are making diversity a priority for a simple reason: A diverse class enriches the academic experience for everyone. These diverse layers are part of what helps a business school innovate and create valuable networks for students.

Students in graduate business programs often learn as much from each other as from their faculty. In the US, ethnic and gender diversity at business schools echo the larger shifts in demographics happening within the United States. Globally, there are unfolding efforts to diversify the intellectual mix of incoming talent, more international talent, and greater emphasis on recruiting students from non-business, or non-traditional undergraduate majors. 

Currently, my colleagues and I aim to create more tools and resources for increasing the pipeline and enhancing the recruitment and retention of diverse groups, especially US underrepresented populations (including African American, Native American, and Hispanic students). Links to download the newest reports for more insight into diverse candidate segments are available below. GMAC is committed to diversity initiatives that enhance the graduate management education experience for both schools and students - and build the student pipeline. 

There’s data to suggest some b-schools are seeing improvements. For example, results of last year’s Application Trends Survey showed that full-time two-year MBA programs across all US regions reported increases in the percentage of applications they received from US underrepresented populations (URPs) for the 2014 application cycle. Programs located in the US South and West saw the largest rise (62% and 60% of programs, respectively) in applications from these candidates. Four out of 10 programs in both the Midwest (40%) and the Northeast (41%) also report increased application volume from underrepresented populations. All combined, URPs account for nearly 16 percent of the unique US citizen GMAT® test takers (or 11,834 individuals in Testing Year 2014)1.

2015 US Diversity Map, by Regions, TY 2014 Data

With levels of college attainment among African American and Hispanic communities reaching unprecedented levels, b-schools could face larger numbers of candidates from these communities to aim to recruit. Pew Research reported that in 2012 nearly a quarter (23%) of African Americans ages 25 to 29 had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, an increase from 20 percent in 2011. Bachelor’s degree attainment among young Hispanics increased to 15 percent in 2012, up from 13 percent in 20112.

The challenge of recruiting underrepresented candidates for your programs may be related not only to finding them relative to where you are or are not looking, but also the positioning your messaging or marketing efforts so it resonates. Recently, we released several reports from our GMAT test taker data and survey analysis that offer market data to help reveal who these candidates are in the business school pipeline, and inform your viewpoint and assist with student recruitment efforts. As you look for ways to recruit diverse students, consider reviewing your strategy with these resources in mind. 

Finding and Understanding Candidates 

  • Women worldwide account for a total of 105,476 GMAT exams taken, representing 43.3 percent of the global business school pipeline in testing year 2014 (TY 2014). This marks the sixth year in a row that women broke the 100,000 mark in the number of GMAT exams taken. More than 45,000 female GMAT examinees, or 54 percent of all women who took the GMAT exam, intend to pursue an MBA degree. To commemorate International Women’s Day (March 8, 2015) and Women’s History Month in the United States, colleagues prepared this brief as a summary of current GMAT test taker and research data about women in the business school pipeline. 
  • US underrepresented populations (URPs) are largely represented in the US South (27% of unique URP GMAT examinees), followed by the Southwest (19%) and Northeast (17%). This regional distribution differs from that of non-underrepresented unique US GMAT examinees, for whom the South is only the fourth largest region (19%). In addition, more than 80 percent of URP GMAT examinees have some work experience; most frequently between one and three years (34%). A series of four briefs present key statistics for specific populations of US GMAT test takers, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans, and combined URPs. 

Select your data view. 

Using the Interactive Data Research Tool of the latest Prospective Students survey, GMAT accepting programs can explore the student mindset data in detail in responses from URPs, women, and other segments – including their program choices, career goals, information sources, decision time lines, and more. The information can help you examine candidate timelines for decision making, and combined with GMAT testing data may help you plan where you prioritize recruiting stops. Wherever you go, be sure to attune your messages to the specific information each of these communities looks for in their decision-making.

Diversity Research Report

Integrate data into your outreach. 

For example, take advantage of resources in the Graduate Management Admission Search Service® database (GMASS®) for purchasing lists of candidate names that might help your efforts for diverse candidate outreach, even before they sit for the GMAT exam or in more targeted ways to find the best candidates. An additional example comes from Shandra Jones, Associate Director of MBA Admissions at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, who has a great blog on action items worth checking out, “Fit” As an Assessment and Marketing Tool. And, there are a number of valuable insights and best practices from admissions and diversity professionals worth a read. 

Is Your School Involved? 

Many programs are available to provide internship and other opportunities to aid diverse candidates. I’ve spent time with our partners at organizations that help prospects prepare for MBA programs, like the MBA Launch for Women hosted by Forté Foundation and the MLT MBA Prep program for minority young professionals

I look forward to continuing this conversation with you next month during GMAC’s Annual Conference in Denver, CO. There will be two specific diversity sessions related to the role of gender in communications and partnerships to develop the LGBT pipeline. And, as your program explores its strategies, please don’t hesitate to contact me

About the Author

Sabrina WhiteSabrina White is the vice president, Americas, at the Graduate Management Admission Council.

1GMAC (2014) Application Trends Survey,
2Source: Fry, Richard and Parker, Kim. “Section 2: Bachelor’s Degree Completion Among Young Adults.” Pew Research Center. November 5, 2012.