Harvard MBAs say fighting wealth inequality is a top priority

The US economy is showing signs of strength not seen since since the 2011 recession, even in the face of a shaky global market. However, the increased prosperity is not being distributed equally – a trend some business elites are saying is becoming a problem.

Brian Snyder/Reuters/File
Harvard Business School student Danial Moon wears a sign reading 'The MBA Oath' before a Harvard University's 358th Commencement Exercises in Cambridge, Mass. in 2009

A recent study shows that Harvard Business School alumni, many of whom are wealthy and major players in the financial industry, are more concerned about inequality and more equitable distribution of wealth than economic growth.

The new study, released Tuesday, asked 2716 randomly sampled graduates of the prestigious school where they stood on various issues facing the economy. The results showed that 66 percent of respondents chose inequality, middle-class stagnation, poverty, and economic mobility as a more pressing issue than boosting overall economic growth.

Overall, most respondents had positive feelings about the competitiveness of the US economy. Barriers to entrepreneurship were ranked lower and more accessible now than in previous years over the past decade. The study suggests the US also offers better access to start-up capital, talent and infrastructure. 

Despite such favorable conditions, however, startups have been in decline since for the past thirty years according to US Census data. An analysis of the survey predicted “entrepreneurship might become a source of prosperity, but not shared prosperity….” Shared prosperity – prosperity that supports rising living standards for all Americans – is on the decline.

Alumni looked at the future of economic gains in the next decade and estimated that 41 percent  of will go to the top 1 percent of Americans. Less than 5 percent are predicted to go to the poorest 20 percent. Given the option, respondents preferred a more even distribution across the economic spectrum.

These feelings were reflected in the prioritization of economic outcomes. While slow overall economic growth garnered the single largest support for the top priority for change at 33 percent, rising inequality (24 percent), middle-class stagnation (19 percent), limited economic mobility (11.5 percent), and rising poverty (11.2 percent) combined were much higher. Seventy-one percent of respondents saw one or more of these issues as not just social challenges, but also challenges for businesses.

“People have this economic unease, they have this economic anxiety,” said Karen Mills, senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and former head of the US Small Business Administration, in an interview with The Washington Post. “We haven’t created an evenly-disbursed set of opportunity.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Harvard MBAs say fighting wealth inequality is a top priority
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today