The recruitment of African-American students and other traditionally underrepresented minorities is a challenge facing admissions directors at leading MBA programs, according to a recent post on the UCLA Anderson School of Management Blog.
“This is an issue facing all of the best programs,” says Alex Lawrence, Anderson assistant dean of admissions. “All of the admissions directors talk about it; it’s reality.” The relatively low admission numbers of black students in Anderson’s full-time school is a problem that stems from the fact that there are only a limited number of candidates that qualify for the top schools, he says.
“The pipeline is limited,” he says, adding that this is exacerbated by the fact that all the top MBA programs are recruiting from the same limited pool of qualified diverse candidates. Says Lawrence, “The question becomes: Do you lower your (admission) standards? Or should you be proactive to improve the number of students who meet your standards?”
Lowering admissions standards is not the answer Lawrence and his team choose. Instead, they are working with a number of programs and organizations focused on improving diversity recruiting at the MBA level by improving opportunities available to diverse students well before they even consider business school.
The Riordan Programs, founded by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan nearly three decades ago, include a number of initiatives focused on high school students, recent college graduates and first-generation college students who are interested in business or careers in management. Lawrence knows the programs well, since he led them before transferring to admissions. Anderson’s full-time Class of 2015 includes more Riordan alumni than any class before it.
Anderson is also a member school within the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing diversity and inclusion in American business. The number of Consortium recruits entering the UCLA Anderson MBA program is also at a record high. Anderson likewise works closely with the Forte Foundation and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, organizations that focus on recruiting women and Hispanic students, respectively.
“It’s important for us to leverage these relationships,” Lawrence says. “Five to 10 years down the road, the discussion will change, because there won’t be as few candidates as there are today,” Lawrence says.
The passage of Proposition 209 by California voters means that Anderson may not consider race for admissions purposes. But Lawrence assure minority candidates that they will find at Anderson a diverse and welcoming community within a diverse city.