Last updated 6 days ago
Industry News

Business schools dig deeper on diversity

Simona Catana turned to executive education to boost her confidence after feeling she had faced subtle discrimination at work because of her gender. She recalls being the only woman in a meeting and being asked to take notes. A freelance consultant in Paris, she previously sold intellectual property protection services in London. “When you’re a woman in a very male-dominated industry it can feel a bit overwhelming,” says Catana, who is Romanian.

In December 2020, she enrolled in the Women’s Leadership Excellence programme at ESMT Berlin, in which students learn how to overcome bias, strengthen leadership capabilities and build a supportive professional network.

Catana came away feeling empowered, she says. “Having other women . . . reflecting on their experience and how to cope with these challenges, you realise you are not alone, and that is very powerful,” she says. “You need to be self-assured, in order to speak up, to have initiatives, to come up with new ideas because otherwise you will just sit quietly and wait for things to happen to you.” Diversity, equity and inclusion were already growing priorities for corporate executives. But movements, such as #MeToo, against sexual harassment, and the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020, have sharpened focus on the issues.

That shift is now driving demand for training to help senior management tackle the challenges and opportunities of supporting diversity, equity and inclusion at work — and to lead effectively across various dimensions of difference, such as ethnicity, gender or sexuality. Academic research that correlates diversity with increased profitability has also reinforced interest in the area.

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