The research is clear: Diversity matters in business. Numerous studies have documented the benefits that diversity brings to an organisation, from improving financial performance to increasing productivity to sharpening decision-making.
At INSEAD, we recognise that diversity has another important benefit. It prepares and positions an organisation to use business as a force for good. The diversity of the INSEAD community has always been strong. But in recent years, it’s grown even stronger.
Consider these facts: In the last 10 years, the number of nationalities represented by our MBA students has increased from 72 to 94. The number of women in a single MBA class has increased from 262 to 348. And the percentage of students participating in an exchange between our campuses has increased from 70% to 74%.
Today, our student body is more than 89% international and our youngest alumni are leading around the globe; the Class of 2017, for example, is working in 64 different countries. Now that we have three fully integrated campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, those figures are likely to keep increasing.
The significance of diversity
During the recent Changing Lives: Scholarships at INSEAD dinner, the impact of this diversity came to life through the speeches of our scholarship recipients, who told stories about their journeys to INSEAD.
Angelica Mandaric shared how she left her home in Bosnia-Herzegovina at age 14 to pursue a better life. She used a music scholarship to move to Dubrovnik and lived in a state-run home for girls, where she devoted all of her energy to studying and practising piano. Less than two years later, she became a soloist with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra. Angelica also went on to co-found and lead an NGO that addresses educational standards, unemployment and post-war tensions between ethnic groups in Bosnia. She is now a PhD candidate at the Centre for Performance Science in London, a social entrepreneur and a strategy consultant.
Amir Salameh shared the difficulties he faced growing up as “an outsider” in Israel, as he was part of the Arab-Palestinian minority and identified as both Arab and Christian. Motivated to pursue the best education and career he could, Amir took an internship at a tech company during the Israeli-Lebanese war and was determined to prove himself. In fact, one day when his manager told him to stay home due to the conflict, Amir still drove to work — and ended up having to pull over his car and lie on the ground. While sirens wailed around him, he thought: Failure is not an option.
Fahad Hasan described the epiphany that he experienced while suffering from dengue and typhoid in a hospital in Pakistan. In the middle of his weeklong, 105-degree fever, Fahad came up with an idea to bring affordable health care to the poor. That idea later blossomed into HealthOne, a provider of high-quality, low-cost medical services. Fahad explained that the company eventually went bankrupt because of high expenses, and he had to close it down. However, he says, the scholarship he received from INSEAD has given him the means to begin anew — and now he’s determined to find another way to use business for good.
Angelica, Amir and Fahad serve as living, breathing examples for why diversity matters. We’re so pleased to count them as members of our community — not just for the sake of INSEAD, but for the sake of the world. We know that they, like all of our alumni, will have a transformative impact on business and society.