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A look inside Broad’s Full-Time MBA DEI strategy

By Chelsea Stein
Monday, February 13, 2023

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are core values of our MBA admission process. So, every effort in recruitment accomplished by the admission team is done considering our diverse prospective students. We create programming that is inclusive and equitable. Ultimately, our goal is to build a high-quality, diverse class that will succeed as a cohort.”

That goal is something that Andrea McHale (B.A. Marketing ’03, MBA ’07) takes seriously. As director of graduate admissions and enrollment for the Broad College’s Full-Time MBA program, she leads her team to bring this inclusive recruiting strategy to life every day — and it’s attracting more students than ever before.

The program’s admissions team has boosted its recruitment efforts to see an increase of 14,000 leads and a 34% increase in applications compared to last year, as of January. The team is aiming to increase representation, specifically of underrepresented and historically excluded MBA applicants.

“Our team is responsible for the marketing, recruitment, admissions, enrollment, scholarships and partnerships of the MBA program,” McHale explained. “Every year, we sit down together to set goals and plan our objectives for these areas, and we make sure DEI is front and center.”

Partnerships and student input

Alongside McHale are Kate Irwin, assistant director of admissions, marketing and communications, and Beth Thomas, office assistant. Together, they organize and host over 100 inclusive and equitable events for prospective students each year, painting a picture of what it’s like to be a student at Michigan State University.

“We know the importance of putting together a diverse class of MBAs,” Irwin said. “It allows students to connect with others from different backgrounds and countries from all over the world, which in turn opens their minds to new perspectives, ways to problem solve, communicate and work together as a team.”

Partnerships are a key element of the inclusive recruiting strategy to best support students at each stage, from prospectives, applicants and current students all the way to alumni. The admissions team has forged strong external relationships with a number of graduate recruitment organizations:

  • Forté Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping women achieve career success through business education, professional development and a community of successful peers
  • Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that offers resources for African American, Latinx and Native American professionals to realize their full potential and optimize their MBA experience
  • Reaching Out MBA, the largest organization focused on supporting the LGBTQ+ MBA community

First-year student Tania Sotelo Valencia is a Forté Fellow, and she said that attending Forté’s Women Leadership Conference last June has helped her find peers with shared experiences and make lasting connections.

“As a Mexican American woman, you don’t expect much representation,” she said. “However, I was thrilled to see more Latina and Hispanic women trying to break the mold. Being [at the conference] opened my eyes to how we, as women, should and can support each other. I have been able to stay connected with many of them and continue to be inspired. Women can fortify each other to be bold. So, my drive as a Mexican woman continuously breaks barriers.”

Valencia also serves as a graduate assistant for Broad’s MBA program, playing a vital role in recruiting efforts. Graduate assistants provide a look inside the program to prospective students through blog posts, podcast episodes, social media content and in-person coffee chats, visits and events.

“Helping build the next class has been so rewarding because I have had the chance to interact with prospective students who are so inspiring,” she said. “They have taught me so much, especially about their culture, and have allowed me to be a guide/mentor to them just like I once was mentored through the process.”

Another graduate assistant, second-year student Andrew Chow, enjoys being part of the process and providing his input to make a difference.

“I get to see what the program office is trying to do to improve the experience, specifically through the admissions process, while also experiencing it firsthand as I lead some prospective student events,” he said. “It’s very empowering to be able to give and take feedback to constantly better the process.”

Foundational values

Beyond admissions, diversity, equity and inclusion are foundational values that permeate the entire program, through its operations and development as well. Last year William Horton-Anderson, assistant director of academic and student affairs, worked with students to spearhead the creation of a DEI Index to showcase these ongoing efforts and capture the progress made so far.

“We created our first index for 2021–22 to tell a story about the program through the life cycle of an MBA student, covering admissions and what it’s like to be a Broad Spartan in the program,” he said, noting that the 2022–23 index is in the works now and will expand to include a career portion. “The students want to tell their stories and they want to make the program better, so this is a chance to do that and strengthen support for all identities.”

Horton-Anderson helps current students continue to grow the program’s focus on DEI, supporting them in finding new spaces and opportunities to share their unique voices and experiences. Currently, the Broad MBA boasts five DEI-focused student resource groups that are recognized and highlighted each year through Broad Inc. week. In addition, the program recently launched a student DE&I steering committee composed of 12 first- and second-year students to drive these efforts and foster an inclusive community that will extend for future cohorts.

Creating change in a DEI aspect goes back to breaking the mold, building one-on-one conversations and bringing awareness in a new way.
Tania Sotelo Valencia, MBA Class of 2024

There is always more work to be done to involve diverse perspectives, promote inclusion and ensure equity. For the MBA program, that means meeting students wherever they are and offering new programming and events. This month, for example, the admissions team hosted its inaugural Veterans Day event for active and retired military personnel. The event showcased what the program has to offer those who have served in the military, what their career outcomes and their path forward could be as a Broad Spartan.

The Broad MBA program’s progress and momentum thus far is a product of its community of dedicated faculty, staff, student and alumni volunteers. To acknowledge the diverse contributions from so many passionate people, the program hosts a thank-you event each spring.

“Without our current student and alumni volunteers, we would not be able to host a successful event on or off campus,” Thomas said. “They showcase the reality of our program with real-life scenarios and help to build relationships that could last a lifetime.”

Valencia added, “Creating change in a DEI aspect goes back to breaking the mold, building one-on-one conversations and bringing awareness in a new way — showing that people’s stories matter, and they have gems we can take, cultivate and use to make us excel to a new level.”

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