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Abena Afriyie

Celebrating 47 years of Diversity in Business

by Abena Afriyie Thursday, October 17, 2013

As the Class of 2015 learned in orientation this year, the appreciation and understanding of diverse ideas and perspectives is key to the advancement of anyone who expects to become a successful leader in their professional career. As the cultural landscape of business becomes more and more globalized, it’s important that we continue to push ourselves to gain a greater understanding of ideas and perspectives that are different from our own. 

This mission of acceptance and understanding is not new to the Wisconsin School of Business.  In 1966, University of Wisconsin – Madison, along with 2 other business schools, became the first 3 universities to partner with the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM) to increase the number of diverse candidates in business school and subsequently in business.  Now, 45+ years later, the Consortium has 19 partner schools that also support this mission.

This year, the Class of 2015 includes 10 Consortium Fellows, and our goal is to aid the university in its initiatives to continue conversations surrounding diversity while also promoting CGSM so that future UW MBA applicants who also support the CGSM mission will know that this is an opportunity during the application process.

Although it’s very exciting and rewarding to become a Consortium Fellow, there is also quite a bit of work involved – beginning well before you set foot on campus.  One of the highlights is the Consortium Orientation Program, commonly referred to as “OP”. It takes place the summer before you begin your full-time program, but preparation begins as early as April. The “OP” is where all Consortium Fellows from the 19 member schools gathered to have an intensive week of corporate presentations, team-building, community service and discussion surrounding career opportunities. All of these elements took place under the overarching theme of diversity and “Upgrading Your Career 2.o13”. This year there were over 400 fellows and nearly 70 corporate partners in attendance. We quickly learned that although UW had one of the smaller classes, we were one of the strongest! 

A key take-away I had leaving Consortium OP was that there are no easy answers to questions around how to approach diversity issues in the workplace, but it is important that we continue to try.  I also felt a great sense of pride knowing that I would soon be starting my MBA journey at a founding school, and although 47 years later, UW Madison’s commitment to the Consortium’s goals has only gotten stronger. 

To learn more about the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, please visit their website at www.cgsm.org

Also, to join the MBA Admissions team in diversity recruitment efforts, please feel free to volunteer to help out with the upcoming Diversity Summit. On Wisconsin!