Providing supportive measures for the LGBTQ+ community in Executive MBA programs matters and is worthy of attention throughout the entire academic year, not only during Pride Month. As the Broad College celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, I reflect on the efforts made by the Broad Executive MBA to increase inclusivity in the program and authenticity in the classroom for the queer community. I want to preface this post by stating I am not an expert on LGBTQ+ issues or rights; however, I will write from my perspective as a cisgender lesbian who has had experience for the last decade working in higher education while promoting efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion.
slideshow has a previous and next buttons
To drive inclusivity and authenticity, there needs to be a clear showing of support with students, staff and faculty. Offering visible support is necessary and matters profoundly to myself and other members of the LGBTQ+ community because so many of us have had to hide for physical safety or social acceptance. To increase LGBTQ+ visibility, I created the Spartan Pride lapel pin. A sense of community can be felt when a person recognizes another Spartan. I wanted to create the Spartan Pride lapel pin because all people deserve to feel seen and know that they are in a supportive space. Instead of the iconic Spartan logo being forest green, the lapel pin depicts the rainbow like the well-known pride flag. This had not yet existed at Michigan State University, and since its creation, the pin has become popular with other departments in the college, like the Full-Time MBA and the Dean’s Office. We have given these pins to students, alumni and program allies. The goal is to provide support and to further develop inclusivity in the MSU community.
Everyone can take action to increase inclusion. This action does not need to be substantial in scale to create meaningful impact; rather, it can be as simple as practicing inclusive language. For example, the Broad Executive MBA program has encouraged students to add their pronouns in their email signatures. As staff, we have included our pronouns on our business cards, an option available to all MSU employees. Taking this further, introducing yourself with your preferred pronouns at meetings can model desired behavior from others on your team. Additionally, using the phrase “significant other” when referring to a student’s romantic partner is a gender-neutral alternative to wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend.
I recently had the chance to attend the Out Women in Business Conference hosted by Reaching Out MBA. Keynote speaker Sharon-Franklin Brown, who serves as the chief impact officer at the LA LGBT Center, said, “Allow yourself the opportunity to be moved and allow others the opportunity to move you — that is when change happens.” Taking measures to increase visibility will continue to enrich the academic experience for all individuals who are seeking to live authentically in their gender expression and sexual orientation. I know we will continue to be open to taking actions towards inclusivity because all individuals in our community are what makes the Spartan family strong.