In my last post, I discussed the significance of taking your own professional path at business school and how Kelley provides endless opportunities to explore what’s right for you. Now, I’d like to push even further and talk about the importance of truly being yourself at an even more personal level. In other words, I’d like to tackle the topic of diversity at Kelley by giving an account of my experiences as an LGBTQ+ student in business as well as hearing thoughts from a few other diverse Kelley students.
As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I am from a small farm town in southern Indiana. And though it was a phenomenal place to grow up, my hometown is certainly not a hub of culture or diversity in any way. Thus, I didn’t fully comprehend or accept my own sexuality until I had left home and spent nearly two years at Indiana University and the Kelley School of Business. For me, this journey of personal understanding has provided one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life, as I’ve learned to appreciate my own unique identity and those of the people around me.
KELLEY MADE ME FEEL WELL-SUPPORTED IN MY COMING OUT PROCESS
“How does this relate to business or Kelley,” you might ask. First of all, the exceptional friends, staff, and faculty that I’ve met at Kelley were crucial in helping me feel confident and well-supported during my coming out process. Additionally, in today’s world, companies and business schools, alike, are beginning to understand the value of diversity. For instance, during my internship at McKinsey & Company last summer, I was a part of GLAM, the firm’s LGBTQ+ affinity group that has over 30 members in the Chicago office alone. McKinsey, as well as many other consulting firms, investment banks, and Fortune 500 corporations sponsor and take part in a three-day conference in New York City each fall at which over 400 LGBTQ+ undergraduate students from across the nation gather for professional development, personal growth, and targeted recruiting opportunities. These are just two examples of a sweeping revolution in the business world to openly accept and appreciate diversity in the workplace.
INCREASED RESOURCES FOR WOMEN AND MINORITIES
The Kelley School is also taking strides to increase diversity and inclusion. While talking to my friend, Myles Markey, who is a gay, black junior at Kelley, he told me, “As a minority student two times over, the Kelley School of Business can sometimes seem like a daunting place. From the hyper-masculinity that has historically dominated business to being the only one that looks like me in many situations, it can sometimes feel as though I don’t belong.” But in a more positive tone, he stated, “However, Kelley knows where there is room for improvement, and the school is taking strides to make positive changes. The Kelley Office of Diversity Initiatives provides exceptional resources and hosts several events to strengthen the POC (people of color) community while organizations like Out at Kelley and LGBTQ+ focus groups aim to give students a platform and a voice. While the school isn’t where it should be on every aspect (is any university really?), the strides that I’ve seen over the past three years leave me hopeful for the future.”
In addition to initiatives aimed at improving inclusion of POC and LGBTQ+ students, the Kelley school has also found meaningful ways to increase representation and inclusion of women. For instance, just last week, a group of students planned and hosted the second annual Women’s Leadership Summit, which aimed to help women and men become better leaders. The COO of Finishline, Melissa Greenwell, was the keynote speaker, and other breakout session topics included ‘Do More, Apologize Less,’ and ‘How to be a Manbassador.’ The Summit is just one example of the many ways that women empowerment is a major focus at Kelley. In fact, Julia Rubinstein, the president of Kelley’s Women in Business (WIB) student organization, described in our discussion on women’s inclusion, “Organizations like WIB have provided me with communities of women at Kelley who support me in my professional goals and growth… In the last few years, the number of women’s organizations and communities has expanded, and hopefully this will continue to grow and impact more women.”
KELLEY MAKES ME EXCITED FOR THE FUTURE OF DIVERSITY IN BUSINESS
As you can probably tell, the business world and the Kelley School are rapidly changing. Groups of people and students that have previously found it difficult to succeed in business are finally finding a voice and making positive strides toward equal representation. So if you decide to come to Kelley, rest assured that your true, authentic self will be welcomed with open arms no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other factor that makes you unique. I’m a proud, gay Kelley student and future business leader, and I’m extremely hopeful and excited for the future of diversity in business.