Comparing Corporate and Academic Diversity Challenges

Christine Clements, EVP and diversity and inclusion advocate at AACSB International, speaks with Camilia Ilie, director of the Center for Women's Leadership at INCAE Business School, about the unique diversity and inclusion challenges faced by business schools in comparison to corporations.


August 2016

Christine Clements: [00:10] Camilia, you have extensive corporate experience. How do you compare the challenges of the corporate world to those in the academic world? Are they similar?

Camilia Ilie: [00:21] I think that they may be bigger than in the corporate world. What I find are similarities in the levels of women in different positions and the women in corporate positions. For instance, we have more assistant professors than we have full-time professors, it's exactly as in the corporate world. There are more [with] women high potential and just a few in top management positions, so there are similarities.

[00:54] Work has been done much more in the corporate world so far, at least in my experience in Europe, where I have the most extensive experience. There are quotas, there are programs for developing women. There are mentors and coaches specialized in helping women increase their role in corporations.

[01:16] There are not as many in the academic institution, which sometimes is quite a raised question or a paradigm, because we are training these women, and we are the ones that help them develop their careers.

[01:35] Besides the normal challenges that we have in moving from a position to the other, to develop a career in the academic world is much more challenging, because we have to do all the teaching, the academic leadership, and the research. There are three areas where we have to excel, and it's not as easy.

[01:57] It's not just my executive role, as in the corporate world. We may face bigger challenges than in the corporate world—less affirmative action, less support, and bigger challenges in different areas.

Clements: [02:13] That may be, perhaps, why there are so few women choosing to leave the corporate world to go into academia.

Ilie: [02:20] Yeah, could be. It could be an interesting research question, definitely.