Gone are the times that having an MBA simply used to be about managing money and running a company. In today’s society, there is much more to running a company than just making sure it’s making more money than it spends – a good company must be humane to its employees (paying them equally and discouraging sexual harassment, both of which should be a given) as well as humane in its image to society. In order to help prepare for this, business schools have tailored their curriculum to better suit the societal agenda.
Students at colleges such as Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Stanford can expect to take classes that focus on issues such as free speech and sexual harassment in said colleges’ ability to produce better business leaders.
“There’s a turning point in what’s expected from business leaders,” says Leanne Meyer, who is part of the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business. “Up until now, business leaders were largely responsible for delivering products. Now, shareholders are looking to corporate leaders to make statements on what would traditionally have been social justice or moral issues.”
The ethical incidents of recently – Uber’s sexual harassment scandal and the general environment surrounding Fox News, to name a few – have inspired future business students to want to change the way they feel a company should be run. In a recent survey of business students done by the UN and Macquarie University, students have cited ethics as the most important issue in running a company.
While it is invigorating that colleges are making the push to better their curriculums for a more ethical corporate society, the fact still remains that the culture of business itself isn’t very fair to women. After years of fighting, women are still being paid less than men in many profitable career paths, and sexual harassment, as well as assault, run rampant in the workplace. On top of it all, women still aren’t taken as seriously as men in the workplace.
“We have a ‘C.E.-bro’ culture in the technology sector today, but we’ve had ‘C.E.-bros’ throughout time,” says April Hughes, who is a student at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. “All the guys there thought they were smarter than everyone else.”
“The women who do make it to business school are all super strong personalities, whereas the men here can float through without being the cream of the crop,” adds Natalie Copley, who is also a student at the business school. “They’re not meek little timid things.”
Her point is illustrated by Forte Foundation’s tool kit for men in business, which provides tools to them so that they may title women as “allies” or “liaisons,” supposedly inclusively labeling them as partners; it also contains scenarios of sensitive situations. The tool kit seems more for the men so that they do not feel overwhelmed when women are working alongside them. As for the scenarios, they could easily have been avoided through proper ethical lessons in childhood.
Classes to improve the way business students run their future companies is surely innovative and is most certainly a good idea. However, when there are other issues at hand – more urgent ones such as the gender pay gap – they should be the ones being incorporated into college curriculums, and loudly so.
Sign Up For Our Newsletter