Wharton, arguably the best business school in America, is making a concerted effort improve its diversity by addressing the concerns of the LGBT community.
Released in May 2012, the school’s original Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence didn’t address sexual orientation and gender identity, angering gay students and alumni.
“We were looking to have sexual orientation mentioned a few more times and… we wanted to have gender identity added as a form of diversity,” said Frank Wolf of the Wharton Alliance, a pre-professional organization for LGBT students.
But after some discussions with Anita Henderson, senior director to the deputy dean, the Alliance got what it wanted—and then some.
According to Wolf, their initial baseline goals were for more frequent mention of sexual orientation and also the explicit mention of gender identity throughout the document. “When I read over the document, I was really pleased to find a few other things included,” Wolf said.
The document also now mentions Penn’s commitment to individuals of different types of marriages, and specifically mentions same-sex partners.
“For us, it was an unprecedented type of initiative that we’ve taken on,” [Wharton Alliance president Eddy] Bueser said. “Historically we’ve never really talked to the administration directly about their plans, and this is the first time that we as an organization have bridged the gap with the administration and the LGBT community.”
They may not have started out on the right foot, but it sounds like the school is on the ball now: “These really are working documents,” says Henderson, “so I am hoping this is just the start.”