Melan-In@HEC is an independent initiative started by several alumni of the Class of 2020 who are passionate about diversity, and who identified a need to increase representation within the HEC Paris MBA. Melan-In@HEC is composed of several outreach initiatives designed to promote visibility of the MBA program to black women and to amplify black female voices in the recruitment process. These initiatives include Interview Prep, CV Reviews, Application Advice and more.
As one of the co-founders nicely put it: “Listen, there are some badass queens out there that HEC is not managing to reach for some reason. Let’s put HEC on said queen’s maps!” And that’s exactly what Melan-In@HEC is here to do.
The Team’s Objectives
- Promote visibility of the HEC Paris MBA Program to black women
- Empower black women to apply to the top-rated MBA program
- Elevate black women’s voices throughout the application process
Meet the Team
Of all the many amazing things that happened during my MBA at HEC Paris, this right here might be the one initiative that I feel the proudest to be a part of. My favorite aspects of it? It does so in such a way that anyone who cares, can find a role within the movement; and more importantly, it acknowledges that it is us (schools and student bodies) who need to do a better job at reaching all the amazing black women that are out there.
I found my best friend (in what feels like) halfway between Mexico and Nigeria. A big part of my decision to be at HEC Paris was diversity. With a not-too-shabby 93% international student body, the MBA program at HEC is trying to “prepare us to work with people from many different backgrounds and cultures.”
However, women—and particularly black women—are underrepresented at HEC and at most MBA programs across the world. I joined Melan-In because I want future classes of MBAs to have the opportunity to listen to even more perspectives and benefit from a richer class than the one I benefited from.
I am very excited to be a part of this student-led movement that aims to further diversity at HEC by reaching out to the most underrepresented demographic on the program—people who look like me. I joined the Melan-In movement because black (and African) women have been underrepresented in almost every area of life for too long.
My time spent at HEC doing my MBA were some of the best moments of my life. I found my voice, my worldview was expanded and I pushed myself to become a better person and now feel more equipped to be a leader. More women like me should be able to have this opportunity as well, to make their voices heard and to make a difference in their lives and that of others.
I remember my first day of the MBA program and although it was exciting, there was that familiar feeling of anxiety while I was looking around and hoping that I wouldn’t be the only black girl on the program. Fortunately, there was one other; however, this is nowhere near enough in terms of representation and inclusion. More should be done and I know that black women have a lot to contribute when given a seat at the table. When I had the opportunity to be part of this initiative there was no question in my mind that I would be involved.
I joined the Melanin @ movement because I have always wanted to be part of a movement that encourages black women to fulfill their potential. There needs to be more of us in every room and to be part of meaningful dialogue and decision making processes.
Diversity is the goal, and inclusion is the strategy. With a student body that is 93% international, we know all about diversity. But one thing stands out: where are all our black queens? MBA programs around the world miss out on the leadership and talent that black women bring to the table. We’re looking to flip the script, change the narrative, and carve out more spaces for black women in the Boardroom. The voice of a continent and collectively the voice of a community must be heard and respected.
Let’s get more black women at HEC Paris! My MBA at HEC has been the most enriching experience in my life so far, largely because of the diversity of the student body. But as much as I loved to see so many people different from me, I couldn’t help but notice that as a black woman, I was still a minority. In spite of that I realized how much I could bring to the program, and also how much HEC has made me grow and challenge my limits.
Joining the Melan-In@HEC movement was a no-brainer for me. My MBA at HEC allowed me to get my dream job in development finance. Considering how empowering an MBA experience
can be, and knowing many bad-ass African women, I consider the under-representation of black women in those programs a waste of talents.
Getting more black women to enroll in MBA programs is not about bringing in diversity just for
the sake of it: it is about changing the narrative about the black community, and creating a more inclusive society where all talents are valued. The argument for more feminine leadership is not to be made anymore, and if our society is now more aware of gender bias, achieving gender balance is still a challenge. And the current awakening of the world to the plague of racism highlights that black women are doubly discriminated against as black
and as women, when it comes to professional opportunities. Educating more African women
leaders is planting the seed for a better future for Africa.
As a woman, I know that the biggest barrier we have is the ones we set to ourselves, convinced we are not good enough. Sometimes, we’re able to shut up that little voice in our head that is discouraging us by seeing and exchanging with people that are similar to us and have made it work for themselves.
I joined Melan-In@HEC because I want to make sure every woman can relate to someone in each batch and find the strength to overcome her self-doubts. Although diversity at HEC Paris is what made my MBA experience so special and enriching, I know there is still a lot that can be done. Improving African women’s presence in the program was one of the most obvious one.
Reflecting on my time at HEC Paris, by far one of the best parts of my MBA experience was the people I met. HEC does an excellent job of bringing together students from various professional and cultural backgrounds and although my cohort boasted an impressive 93 % international student body, African women were still underrepresented in the HEC Paris MBA community. So when I was asked by my fellow classmates to join the Melan-In movement, I said yes!
Apart from the academics, one of the most valuable things my MBA experience gave me was a broader perspective. Before I entered the program, I had only a few industries and roles in which I thought I wanted to work. However, after going through the program and seeing the various possibilities, I began exploring more unconventional roles. I am now working in the commercial aerospace industry, an industry that never even crossed my mind pre-MBA! Even better, an industry where I can boost representation for the black women. This is the importance of increasing the number African women in the MBA community. It can have a cascading effect and increase our presence in other, previously thought, exclusive communities.
It’s been a relatively slow start given the pandemic and the obstacles the founding members had to overcome in their own journeys. However, they have pushed through and worked on partnerships with groups like Forte Foundation and of all the black women that they have supported; 100% of them received acceptance into HEC Paris for the
MBA program and they still have some other women in the pipeline.
To learn more about the group’s mission and outreach, please visit Melan-In@HEC on LinkedIn and the official Melan-In@HEC website.
This story originally appeared in a slightly longer format in the Autumn 2021 edition of the Alumni Journal, a supplemental newspaper published by HEC Stories. HEC Stories is the official magazine published by HEC Alumni to share the insights and expertise of HEC's unique community of alumni. Subscribe here.