Diversity in the INSEAD MBA Class Profile

As an American company based in Europe, we at Menlo Coaching admire INSEAD’s global orientation and inherent commitment to diversity. During our interview with Dean Ilian Mihov, it’s easy to see why they coin themselves “The Business School for the World”. 

Yaron Dahan, Expert Consultant and our Director of Business Development, had the chance to visit Dean Mihov at the Fontainebleau campus to discuss INSEAD’s diverse MBA class profile and what diversity goals the business school holds for the future. 

This is part 3/3 of the interview and includes:

Skip around to the topics that interest you most using the chapter selector, , at the bottom right of the player.


The Benefits of Diversity

The old joke goes: at American Business schools, 70% of students are American and other 30% want to be American. This illustrates a truth about INSEAD’s diversity. It is not about the number of nationalities represented in the class profile (95, by the way)—rather, it is about the fact that INSEAD has no dominant culture in the way that American schools often do. This has a number of effects on students and faculty.

Essentially, everyone in INSEAD’s MBA class is a minority. Knowing this makes students feel more at ease and also allows for an intrinsic connection due to shared commonground. 

Career Advantages

Moreover, diversity in INSEAD’s class profile has an additional positive influence on the employability of its MBA students. This may not be immediately obvious, but with each passing recruitment season, it has become apparent that employers are less inclined to hire MBA graduates with a limited perspective on the consumer market when candidates with diverse, global insights are more valuable to the company.

For instance, when targeting a new market, an employee should be able to provide thoughtful contributions on how the company must evolve to position themselves for success. INSEAD’s diverse and international MBA class allows students to gain that wide range perspective which will makes them lucrative potential hires.

INSEAD Class Profile

As discussed in the first part of our interview with INSEAD Admissions Director, Virginie Fougea, diversity is a cornerstone value for the admissions team. INSEAD actively looks to build an MBA class that is diverse as possible. This is represented by students’ wide range of industry backgrounds and undergraduate studies. Yet the most shocking difference between INSEAD and top US MBA programs is the class’s diversity in geographic origin. Where most top US business schools sport an international diversity data point well below the majority, INSEAD’s international population makes up nearly all of its MBA class, standing at 96%.

INSEAD MBA Class Profile 2019, by the Numbers

Geographic Origin
Europe38%
Asia Pacific33%
North America12%
Middle East & Africa10%
South America6%
Pre-MBA Experience
Corporate37%
Consulting28%
Finance22%
Technology13%
Undergrad Majors
Business33%
STEM36%
Economics13%
Humanities14%
Other4%

(Source: INSEAD Class Profile Data)

The extensive diversity surrounding INSEAD students during their MBA studies only sets them up for success in an ever-globalized business world. With intelligent classmates from across the globe, students are bound to gain new perspectives and insight that they can carry with them throughout their careers.

Diversity Goals for INSEAD

INSEAD firmly believes in integrating diversity into business education. In addition to maintaining international diversity within its MBA class profile, INSEAD is actively working towards gender parity.

The Gender Initiative

Currently, women represent 33% of the INSEAD MBA class, so the business school has started taking steps to increase this number. A large part of the INSEAD Gender Initiative involves trying to figure out how to have more female participants from particular nationalities. INSEAD notes that American applicants are about 45% female while Chinese ones are 60% female. In Italy, Spain, and Germany, however, female applicants only make up about 10% of the pool. 

In order to combat this inequality, INSEAD is using randomized control trials based on their own professors’ research. These seem to show that female applications increase dramatically when application materials discuss female role models. Because of the lack of gender parity in the current business world—only 5% of the CEOs in the top 500 companies are currently female—it is important to make sure that potential female applicants understand that there are successful women in business who have already blazed a trail for them to follow. INSEAD will begin testing this theory in its next round of outreach. 

See also: Part 1: INSEAD Dean Mihov on Sustainability and Future and Part 2: Who is INSEAD Admitting?