This Is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University with Talking Management for The Globe & Mail. Today I am in Vancouver, sitting down with Zoe Kinias from INSEAD, a leading business school just outside of Paris.
Zoe, you have been studying diversity. What are some of your latest findings?
ZOE KINIAS - So, one of the things I am most excited about is some research I did with my collaborator Jessica Sim and what we came to learn a few years ago was that there was a gender gap in performance among MBAs at many of the leading business schools including our own. So what we did is to try and identify a psychological process of what could be going on there and how we could intervene upon that process.
So we did an intervention called a values affirmation in order to try to attenuate women self-doubt and potentially increase our self-efficacy and reduce our self-criticism. So the way it worked was our Dean sent an email to all of our incoming MBAs during the welcome week of the program. Basically just saying that we are interested in you reflecting on your values - values are important to us - and please write and spend 15 minutes writing about your values.
Everyone does this, with a couple of different experimental versions to identify a way that this could work best, and then in their third or fourth day of the MBA program they discuss the values in their class, one of their introductory classes. And then they again receive an email in week 5 or 6 where they are basically reminded of the values that are most important to them. The idea is that there is this sort of thing in the air for members of negatively stereotyped groups, the self is threatened.
The reflecting and writing about values it bolsters the self, it makes the self more resilient, and so people don't feel as threatened and they are able to perform to their utmost potential.
MOORE – Zoe, you help women achieve higher results in the MBA classroom. What is the key lesson you took away for MBA programs to learn from around the world?
KINIAS - What they can do is to help everyone, all of their students, to bring their full self into the classroom. The way we did this was by having students write about their values during their orientation activities.
What happens then is people feel their whole self is part of the academic system and is welcomed in the program. Therefore, they are less likely to feel self-doubt or feel insecure due to a particular social identity in the classroom.