Yes, Regina King! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard Regina King’s epic Golden Globe acceptance for her incredible work in If Beale Street Could Talk. Here’s her speech on how it’s 50% women moving forward below (and see the video here):
So often, everyone out there that hears us on a red carpet and they say celebrities are using the time to talk about ourselves when we are on our soap box and using a moment to talk about the systemic things that are going on in life, time’s up times two.
The reason why we do this is because we understand that our microphones are big and we’re speaking for everyone. I am going to use my platform to say right now that in the next two years, everything that I produce and I am making a vow. And it’s going to be tough to make sure that everything that I produce, that it’s 50% women.
I just challenge anyone out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry, in all industries. I challenge you to challenge yourselves and stand with us in solidarity and do the same.
It’s not an easy promise to make; since 2011, we (MBAchic) have been part of countless groups and followings that pushed for female empowerment, equality in the workplace and for 20% of boards to be female by the year 2020, etc. While the movements were real and set important targets, only now, after the last year or two, does it truly feel as though the world is changing in a way that makes it possible for women to make it happen.
Shifting class makeup
In an article a little over a year ago, Forté Foundation Executive Director Elissa Sangster believed that 50% was nearly impossible (after a decade of work and setting a goal of 40% women in MBA classes, the split only shifted by a few percentage points; in a later interview she blamed her pessimism on lack of sleep, but still, can you blame her? Change was happening, but it was happening very s l o w l y . . .).
In the last year or so, things are shifting—and seem to be accelerating. Across industries and professions, women are setting loftier goals. In business schools, we see the average MBA class gender makeup is closer than ever to a 50/50 split; in fact, this summer USC Marshall announced that its incoming class of 2020 is 52% women, the first major American business school to achieve gender parity in its full-time program (Forbes). More schools have crossed the 40% female mark and that group continues to grow.
We’ve heard it a million times, but it’s statistically proven that companies who have three or more women on their boards boast increased productivity, higher average dividend payout ratios, and return on equity (see it here). Businesses are better when you have women at the top decision-making level. The MBA is simply a tool that helps us all get there.
It’s not easy to set a target of 50% women as Regina King did, but in writing this, I’m challenging myself to think hard about that very assumption. Why is it not easy? Because of how things have always been? It’s not about excluding men, or not giving them opportunities in favor of women; it’s more about actively making space for and supporting as many talented, qualified women as possible. Business schools are on the right track on this: ultimately everyone “levels up” in the process.
What did you think of Regina King’s commitment? Is your MBA program (or programs you’re considering) close to hitting that 50% women split? We’ll be gathering more information on this so stay tuned!