By Albert Lin
The executive director of Reaching Out MBA, an LGBT organization, says that some business schools have started encouraging straight students to attend its conference and job fair.
Matt Kidd told Bloomberg Businessweek that Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business sent a party of 15 students to Reaching Out MBA’s 2013 conference—only one of whom was openly gay. “He was forced to go around introducing himself as the actual gay guy so he didn’t get round-filed with the rest of the school’s students,” Kidd said.
Kidd also said that officials from the College of William & Mary’s Mason School of Business last year told its students to skip the conference and just attend the career fair. “It’s largely done by schools who can’t get companies on their campus,” Kidd said.
Of the 1,100 registered attendees to last year’s conference, 10 percent identified as straight. During his presentation at the Graduate Management Admission Council’s conference in June, Kidd said that this trend is becoming offensive to LGBT students because they’ve heard comments such as “Dude, I’m not gay” and “There needs to be less focus on gay stuff at this event.”
Kidd said that Reaching Out MBA does not want to exclude allies, but in order to better screen attendees, it will ask students to write about why they are interested in attending or have them sign up through a campus LGBT group.
Some educators don’t share Kidd’s concern.
“There are recruiters there who are happy to talk to anyone that’s talented,” says Chequeta Allen, Executive Director of the Career Management Center at William & Mary’s Mason School. “The idea of those groups is to ensure inclusiveness, not to say, ‘We only want LGBT people.'”
Manny Gonzalez, CEO of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, said that 37 percent of students who attended his organization’s conference last year were not Latino. “We live in a diverse world, so whether you go to a Fortune 500 company or a midsize business, you’ll be engaged in a diverse workforce,” he says. “The more exposure as a student you have in these communities, the more you learn.”