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How Can B-Schools Attract More Black Students To Their MBA Programs? Stanford MBAs ‘Demystify’ The Process


Stanford MBAs have organized the third annual Dream Big Lead Boldly workshop, a free, one-day virtual event to help demystify the MBA experience for students and young professionals who identify as Black. It will take place Sunday, May 21. DBLB photo

Stanford Graduate School of School of Business has a good reputation for diversity in its MBA, with about a third of its most recent student intake comprised of minority students, according to the latest data from U.S. News & World Report. The largest non-white group in the GSB’s MBA is Asian students, at nearly 16% of the Class of 2024, followed by Hispanic students, a little more than 8%.

About 5% of MBA students at Stanford Graduate School of Business are Black, which is in line with Stanford’s peer schools: Harvard Business School has 7.3% Black students in its MBA; Wharton has 7%; Chicago Booth School of Business has 4.2%. The numbers are similar outside of the M7 schools: The Ross School of Business MBA program at the University of Michigan has 6.4% Black students; UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business has 4.1%; Duke Fuqua School of Business has 6.2%.

What these numbers show is that Black applicants who want to get an MBA from a top business school can expect to be an even smaller minority in the halls of learning. That’s just one of the challenges Stanford’s Black MBAs have sought to address with Dream Big, Lead Boldly, an initiative that aims to “demystify the MBA experience for Black undergrads and young professionals,” with a goal of increasing diversity in the MBA applicant pool and equity in the application process for business schools globally. The third annual student-led DBLB virtual workshop takes place May 21.

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Simone Hill Okafor will be the keynote speaker at the May 21 Dream Big Lead Boldly event

The free, one-day DBLB workshop will feature keynote speaker Simone Hill Okafor, CEO of Melanated Futures Group who currently leads Omidyar Network’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Among the more than 100 schools that will be represented by attendees include HBCU powerhouses Howard University, Morehouse College, Alabama State University, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, and North Carolina A&T State University. Global schools will be represented too, including Northern Caribbean University of Jamaica) and Stellenbosch University of South Africa.

The 2023 Dream Big Lead Boldly leadership team is composed of 20 MBA students from a wide range of backgrounds who are «unified by the common interest of democratizing access to resources that help students decide if business school is the right path for them,» according to a statement from the team.

Nate Schlein, Dream Big, Lead Boldly lead and a second-year Stanford MBA student, says that he got involved because «business school has been transformational for me, but the process to get here was daunting. I want to help people from all backgrounds get the information and find the confidence that they need to determine if business school is right for them.»


Dream Big, Lead Boldly will cover several themes, including «Deciding if an MBA is right for you,» «Paying for business school,» «Career paths,» and «Designing your life.» There will be industry breakout conversations and networking with current business students and alumni.

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2023 is the third year Stanford students have run this event with the support of the school’s admissions. «Building on the successes and learnings of the previous year’s events, this year’s leadership team has expanded their focus to include young professionals through outreach to organizations such as Forté, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and Riordan. Seeing organic interest from Black students around the world, the team also expanded outreach to universities and organizations in Africa and the Caribbean.»

Registrants have cited how to finance an MBA as their top interest, with a secondary interest in personal and professional development.

«As a student who attended DBLB myself when I was applying to the GSB, it brings me great joy to help expand the reach of this program to other future applicants of color around the world and to deepen our partnership with other organizations that have been building the pipeline for diverse candidates for decades,» says Ore Obiwumi, a first-year Stanford MBA student.

Dream Big, Lead Boldly will take place on Sunday, May 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with networking from 3-4 p.m. Participants from all schools, majors, GPAs, and job roles are welcome. More details and a registration form are available on the Dream Big, Lead Boldly website.






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