The only openly gay dean of a prominent U.S. business school says he would advise MBA graduates not to come out to their prospective employers.
Steve Salbu, dean of Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business, says he believes it is his duty to speak out for openness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and professionals.
But when The Wall Street Journal asked him if he would recommend that his students come out to a potential employer, he said, “I don’t think I would. I have the luxury to do it. I’m 56 years old, I would be very happy to stay at Georgia Tech for the rest of my life. I realize I may be turning people off, I realize it may be closing doors.
‘BE VERY STRATEGIC,’ HE ADVISES GAY MBA STUDENTS
“I would tell [students] to be very strategic,” he said in the Journal interview published today (March 7). “I would recommend that students ask questions, at the appropriate time in the interview process, about whether the company has LGBT affinity groups, domestic-partner benefits, an antidiscrimination policy.
“There will be professional advantages and disadvantages to coming out. In my opinion, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Talent is a scarce commodity and if you’re going to attract the best talent, you better be welcoming to people regardless of gender, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of sexual orientation. If you fail to do any of those, you’re artificially constraining the talent pool and you’ll be penalized in the long run.”
PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCES WITH SOME ARE CERTAIN
Asked if there have been negative consequences to his approach, the dean said he is certain that some stakeholders have philosophical differences with him on issues of sexual orientation. “But what I’ve always banked on is that they will respect my freedom of speech in an academic environment and they will separate my personal views from the job I do.
“Any time I have interviewed for positions in higher education, I have always immediately identified myself as openly gay. What I tell them is if this is an issue for you, I will not take offense. But if it’s an issue, it’s not a good fit, so let me know. [Most] people don’t really care. What they want is someone who can do the job really well.”
Poets&Quants’ currently ranks Georgia Tech’s Scheller School, which has just 71 full-time MBA students in its first-year class, as the 40th best MBA program in the U.S. The school’s highest ranking comes from BusinessWeek which last year placed Scheller 23rd among the best U.S. business schools.