On Supportive Environments
At Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, students are provided with rainbow stickers to put on their name plates if they should so choose. As simple as it was, the stickers made it okay to talk about gender identity. They found that it wasn’t just Out students, but also supportive Ally classmates who would apply stickers to their name plates, creating a supportive class environment.
On Purposeful Events
Regarding purposeful events, Dayna Hine of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business told us, “Remember that your goal should be to create more than a purely social club. As an example, previous Out for Business leaders launched Coming Out Week at Ross, where the programming for the week included educational sessions, a peer storytelling series, and workplace inclusion training to help our classmates become more effective allies.”
Nathan Miller and Sho Shafiei of the Harvard Business School reinforced Dayna’s idea by sharing their experiences. “[HBS] built up a more diverse speaker series this year that covered a variety of topics from building families to trans awareness,” they pointed out. “It’s really crucial to not overlook education.”
It doesn’t all have to be all serious though.
Lucas Vital of Berkeley-Haas laughed and told me “If you haven’t tried it yet, Drageoke is an absolute must! It’s exactly what it sounds like, but more importantly, it’s an event that brings together our entire student community. We usually host an education session beforehand to educate everyone about the importance of drag for the LGBTQ community, discussing the differences between drag, trans, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. We’re also usually blessed with drags from the White Horse Bar in Oakland (rumoured to be the oldest gay bar in US) as our judges, along with someone else from Q@Haas and our school administration. Have fun with it!”
The Crucial Short-Term Wins
Upon my return to Ivey, the school sat down together to review key takeaways and went to work. It seemed imperative to hit the short-term, yet crucial targets right off the bat for this initiative to take off. We were quickly able to achieve the following:
- The MBA Student’s Association immediately established an Out & Allied @ Ivey Club for LGBTQ+ community at the MBA level and the 2019 class elected a Club President to take the lead. This would allow this initiative to continue even after change catalysts had moved on.
- The Program Office introduced the Rainbow stickers idea within the classrooms, which the class enthusiastically embraced, and agreed to subsidize LGBTQ+ students for the ROMBA conference, which showed first-hand that the school is invested.
- The recruiting and admissions department amended our application process to include a checkbox that allowed applicants to indicate interest in pride initiatives, setting the stage for us to build upon this community in the future.
Progress, Not Perfection
Although barely two weeks have passed since the ROMBA LGBTQ+ Leadership Summit, a lot of progress has been made. The person who originally asked what sort of support we offer the LGBTQ+ community has stepped into the club leadership role and the class is pushing for diversity training. I’m noticing a slow, yet steady shift from awareness to allyship to advocacy.
There’s still a lot of work to do, but I see future MBA classes coming together to create a values-based culture that is inclusive and supportive – regardless of age, race or gender.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.
About the Writer
Jay Kiew is the outgoing Western University Ivey MBA 2018 class president. With over four years of experience in the Human Capital Management industry at ADP, he has led 400+ companies through their cross-border expansion efforts. As a result, Jay developed a passion for effective change management and talent strategy methodologies. Post-MBA, he will be continuing that mission with Deloitte as a management consultant. He is a member of Poets&Quants’ 2018 Best & Brightest MBAs.