Published 05 June 2019
Women in Leadership: an MBA that recognises the power of diversity
The topic of women in leadership is just one element of a global discussion that is spreading about diverse workplaces. According to the Diversity Council of Australia, 3 out of 4 Australian workers support their organisation taking action to create a workplace which is diverse and inclusive.
However, challenges and barriers continue to exist in building and managing diverse teams at work. Looking at gender balances within Australian organisations, women are clearly underrepresented.
The 2017 Deloitte-Westpac ‘Diversity Dividend Report’ found that within 1,000 businesses, only 34% of senior managers were women.
At Kaplan Business School, we believe it’s important for our MBA students (and future business leaders) to be given the opportunity to learn how they can positively transform an organisation’s culture into one that values fairness and equity.
Taking a step in this direction, we’re excited to announce the launch of a new MBA specialisation: Women in Leadership.
Gender diversity challenges in today’s workplace
Earlier this month, a group of KBS students and staff attended an event presented by the Centre for Ideas in partnership with the Australian Human Rights Institute.
Keynote speaker and Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, spoke out on the topic of women in leadership.
“It’s clear from psychological research that we tend to look at leadership roles as roles for men…it’s a whisperable unconscious bias in the back of our brain,” said Julia Gillard.
Ms. Gillard discussed the unconscious bias that exists in the workplace, which she believes can partly explain why progress is so difficult.
“The most obvious things have been done but we’re still not seeing women come through in equal numbers. The pressure points are really subtle. Every step in the progression pathway, how we think about merit, the old boys’ network, the ways in which work is allocated, all those things create layers and layers of barriers for women.”
She also had a strong message about the need for self-empowerment and the importance of recognising that “leaders are not a special breed of super smart people”.
“It was really valuable hearing from Julia Gillard that leadership is a set of skills that can be learned by study, practice and experience over time.” Sibyl Esperida, Filipino, Master of Business Administration
The benefits of diverse workplaces
Studies show that organisations that value diversity have proven to be far more successful than organisations defined by uniformity.
And it’s not just a social imperative, it’s an economic one too.
The Inclusion@Work Index 2017-2018 shows that if you work in an inclusive team you are 10 times more likely to be highly effective than workers in non-inclusive teams and nine times more likely to innovate.
Across our four campuses in Australia, KBS has a student mix of over 80 nationalities. * Our students often express the value they gain from being able to interact in diverse classrooms. This is reflected in their views on how workplaces can also stand to benefit.
“A diverse workplace naturally leads to new, better and more creative ideas. After all, employees from different races, genders, orientations and abilities will have varying perspectives. This will be evident in communication modes, presentation styles, way of dealing with colleagues, approaches to problem-solving and many other aspects.” Divine Samson, Filipino, Master of Business Administration.
Can education make a difference?
The changing business landscape is making it essential for young professionals to gain skills in rapidly growing areas such as digital and data management.
Demographic changes and recent global movements toward diversity and inclusion are also making an impact on how we do business. Being able to negotiate and manage diverse workplaces is very much on today’s workplace agenda.
Kaplan Business School’s general MBA curriculum already touches on emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence and diversity. This specialisation, however, involves a more in-depth study into gendered workplace environments.
“I think all students, male and female, need to be educated on the need for cultural change in the business and corporate world.” Divine Samson, Filipino, Master of Business Administration.
*based on average student and alumni numbers (2016–2018).