Ally photo booths. Happy hours co-hosted by the LGBT and Veterans clubs. Section competitions to get the most students to sign an LGBT inclusion pledge. These are just a few of the initiatives taken by MBA students at 12 top business schools this year to show their LGBT classmates that they were welcome and supported on campus. Over 4,300 students took part in the 2nd annual MBA Ally Challenge, a year-long competition run by the nonprofit Friendfactor to encourage emerging business leaders to take action to create a more LGBT-inclusive business culture.
The results, announced today, placed Columbia Business School in 1st place, followed by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia earned the Most Improved award.
"We're thrilled with the outpouring of ally support that enabled Columbia Business School to come in 1st for the second year running," said Ted Kirby, co-chair of the school's "Cluster Q" LGBT club, which led Columbia's winning efforts in the Challenge. "We were able to engage 60% of our student body through 10 ally activities, which sparked a great conversation around diversity and inclusion at the school. As a direct result of these efforts, we will be the first top business school with a gender neural bathroom starting this summer."
The competition, which challenges student leaders to build the largest and most impactful ally initiatives they can over the school year, evaluates their success on three criteria: percentage of the student body participating, number of ally engagement events or campaigns executed, and outcomes of a campus inclusion survey that measures LGBT awareness and campus climate.
The 12 participating schools, all among Businessweek's top 20 U.S. MBA programs, also include (in order of final ranking) MIT Sloan, UCLA Anderson, Duke Fuqua, Chicago Booth, UVA Darden, Carnegie Mellon Tepper, Harvard Business School, UNC Kenan-Flagler, and Dartmouth Tuck.
The participants implemented a combined total of over 100 ally engagement events and campaigns over the course of the school year. Collectively, they improved campus culture such that nearly 50% more LGBT students felt comfortable being out to everyone on campus by the end of the school year. This increase, from 42% to 62%, puts these schools' share of openly LGBT students far above the national workplace average of 47%, as reported by the Human Rights Campaign.
The participants and winners of the MBA Ally Challenge will be honored, alongside the winners of Friendfactor's new Workplace Ally Challenge, at the first annual Ally Challenge Awards Dinner on Saturday, July 26 in San Francisco. The Workplace Ally Challenge winners will be announced in mid-July. Additional information and tickets for the Awards Dinner can be found at www.friendfactor.org/awardsdinner.
The full final standings are available on the MBA Ally Challenge page of the Friendfactor website. The 2nd annual MBA Ally Challenge was made possible with the generous support of Bain & Company and McKinsey & Company.
Photo: Kellogg School of Management