Diversity amongst students on MBA programs is of huge importance to business school admissions departments. However, while there has been much focus on the integration of ethnic and religious minorities into the business school world, it appears that some from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community may be dissuaded from applying due to common misconceptions of business in general.
“I suspect people assume that because business people tend to be conservative that business school students will be both fiscally and socially conservative. While the former may be true, in my experience at Tuck at least, the latter is absolutely not true,” explains Seth D Gilmore, MBA class of 2011 at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. “At Tuck at least, I’d say there is nearly a 100% acceptance rate. Since coming out on campus, I have never felt remotely uncomfortable being openly gay here – quite the contrary, actually.”
However, with the business world actively recruiting MBA students from the many LGBT communities at some business schools, these misconceptions seem to be gradually diminishing.
“I believe that the misconceptions of business school can put people off [applying] to business school,” says Adam Domain, Kellogg School of Management’s MBA class of 2011. “However, I think that they are indeed misconceptions, and moreover that the prevalence of those misconceptions is diminishing with time as business becomes more transparent, and as businesses respond to changes in society (for example, offer same sex benefits, recruit through LGBT channels, provide mentoring specifically for LGBT employees).”
In fact, many high profile firms have introduced recruitment initiatives specifically aimed at MBA students from the LGBT community. For example, consulting firm AT Kearney and the financial heavyweight Credit Suisse both run MBA recruitment initiatives focussed on LGBT communities at business schools.
“We are a group of people who strive to add value for our clients and provide tangible results to help them improve,” says John Yoshimura, global chief operating officer at AT Kearney. “To do this most effectively, it is important that our consultants can be themselves and feel comfortable without encountering prejudice or discrimination, and that they can develop and progress in our organization irrespective of race, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression. Like all aspects of diversity, I strongly believe in and support LGBT workplace equality."
However, it still remains that some business schools and MBA employers are more open and accepting than others. While a company’s level of acceptance can be ascertained during the interview process, judging how accepting a business school is can be more problematic.
“It’s important, particularly as an LGBT person, that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into – the good and the bad. The last thing you want is to arrive with a fantasy about what your life is going to be like for the next two years only to be disappointed,” points out Gilmore.
“No matter how great and accepting and friendly everyone is, there’s no getting around the fact that business school culture is largely a ‘straight culture,’ so it’s up to the individual to determine how attractive or unattractive that is to him or her.”
Fernando Gonzalez of the 2012 MBA class at Red McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin says that while his school has been accepting of his sexuality, LGBT MBA applicants should do their research before applying to any school.
“I feel that different schools have different levels of support for LGBT students... different programs I've been exposed to have dramatically different LGBT communities in size and community involvement. As a result, students at some of these programs feel a great deal of support from their LGBT communities and schools at large.”
To give MBA applicants the opportunity to meet representatives of business school admissions departments, QS organizes the QS World MBA Tour, which visits destinations all around the world. The North American leg of the tour begins in late February, visiting New York on the 19th, Washington DC on the 23rd, Boston on the 24th and Toronto on the 26th.
The QS World MBA Tour in North America partners with OUTmedia, a leading queer cultural activist organization and social enterprise.