Diversity, Equity And Inclusion: A Critical Component To Every MBA Program

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The world’s population is diversifying at a rapid pace. In the U.S., demographic shifts will result in a majority-minority state by around 2045 while global immigration is changing societies around the world. These trends will impact businesses across all industries and at every level. 

Now more than ever, it is vital for leaders to choose an MBA program that not only incorporates diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into the curriculum but positions DEI-focused initiatives as central to business success in a global context. 

Here are the three key reasons why future business leaders must learn and incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives across their organization.


It is widely known that continuous innovation is key to success in a hyper-competitive global environment. Yet innovation is not only about creating products and services that excel at customer desirability, technological feasibility, and business viability. It is also about incorporating diverse inputs into the innovation process.

Organizations successful in this initiative are often ones that have created programs to ensure the best people and ideas are valued. In other words, some of the most innovative organizations are those that are serious about their commitment to DEI. At Brown University and IE Business School, we have created a joint Executive MBA program that not only offers students the latest-know how on digital transformation, innovation, and tech strategy, but also focuses on people and implementing impactful DEI initiatives.

Global Perspective

As businesses look to hire globally or expand to new markets, having a global presence and perspective is pivotal for success. Yet achieving a global outlook can be difficult, especially as cultural differences, social customs, and political structures vary across countries.

Business leaders must understand market demands and customers’ needs across the globe. By recognizing the unique perspectives, needs, and experiences of diverse customers, organizations can create the right products and services for specific markets. Undertaking this process of localization is made possible when organizational leaders and employees are reflective of the communities they serve. Businesses that engage in strategic DEI initiatives aligned with local market needs while taking advantage of global opportunities will find great success. 

In the IE Brown Executive MBA program, we foster this global mindset through case studies that highlight the challenges of creating new ventures in developing regions and through residencies in Rhode Island, Spain, and South Africa that expose students to the histories of diverse people, ideas, and cultures. 


What do Nike, Disney, and Microsoft have in common? They are globally-successful organizations that recognize diversity, equity, and inclusion programs are not just nice to have, they are a must-have. In fact, more diverse organizations tend to have higher profitability than their less diverse counterparts 1. Executive teams that are more diverse in terms of gender and race/ethnicity outperform their counterparts.  But reaping the benefits of DEI means these efforts must go beyond just a few initiatives or the creation of token positions. DEI must be incorporated into the identity of an organization as part of the overall strategy and culture. It must be prioritized and have buy-in at every level. After all, entrepreneurs and business leaders of tomorrow will be navigating a complex and diverse world – understanding and engaging in DEI at their organizations will provide financial benefits while helping create a better future for all. 

Exciting and emerging new technologies, like AI, VR and automation are becoming more commonplace. Many regions and nations are undergoing political upheaval, creating governance challenges. Globalization is changing social and cultural norms. Growing economic inequalities are starting to impact business opportunities. Climate change and sustainability are top of mind. And the pandemic has laid bare the connected nature of the world’s economies. The IE Brown Executive MBA is unique among peer programs as we prioritize DEI in a changing world. This program provides students with the critical thinking skills and practical know-how to leverage DEI in order to address these global trends, opportunities, and challenges that are now an integral part of business decisions and leadership.


1 https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters

Banu Ozkazanc-Pan, Professor of Practice, School of Engineering, and Academic Director of the IE Brown EMBA Program

Banu Ozkazanc-Pan is Professor of Practice at the School of Engineering and Academic Director of the IE Brown EMBA program. She is also the Founder and Director of the Venture Capital Inclusion Lab at the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship. The Lab was started in 2018 with funds from her $260,000 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation grant examining the decision-making and network behaviors of VCs. The Lab focuses on understanding and solving funding inequities in the VC industry through data-driven research, education and advocacy. Banu’s research interests are mainly in the areas of diversity and inclusion in organizations and in entrepreneurial ecosystems.

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