Pride Every Day: School of Business Honors LGBTQ+ Communities in October
With October being LGBTQ+ History Month, the Stevens School of Business has committed to creating a safe environment for LGBTQ+ communities. This isn’t just the right thing to do socially, but being inclusive and respectful is closely tied to personal and organizational success, increased productivity, lower employee turnover and higher profitability.
"When students feel included, they can focus on learning," said Joelle Saad-Lessler, Associate Dean of Undergraduates at the School of Business. "Students can't succeed when they feel excluded and marginalized. That’s why we are constantly reimagining educational spaces to be more inclusive of LGBTQ identities."
As part of its commitment to inclusive leadership, the School of Business participated in events throughout October to acknowledge the history, political activism, and contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals and communities, including with the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion’s National Coming Out Day, a Lavender Luncheon for LGBTQ+ community members, and more.
In recent years, a growing number of CEOs and executives at Fortune 500 companies have publicly come out. They include Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Marty Chavez, former CFO and CIO of Goldman Sachs, Moriaki Kida, Regional Chief Operating Officer of EY Japan and Beth Ford, CEO of Land O’Lakes. While these leaders have advocated for an inclusive culture where everyone can feel authentic at work, there continue to be social and cultural obstacles that impact how LGBTQ+ people are acknowledged and appreciated in the workplace.
A growing body of scientific research illustrates that LGBTQ+ people continue to face complex social disparities, from mental health and substance abuse to housing and employment. That’s why the safety of LGBTQ+ communities is critical in professional and academic spaces, with the specific goal of increasing support and inclusion.
“Inclusivity is not just the right thing to do; it’s a necessary skill for the contemporary workplace,” said Gregory Prastacos, Dean of the Stevens School of Business. “I honor our students, faculty and staff who are members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender nonconforming, and queer communities.”
“Our personal identities influence our professional experiences,” said Matthew Cunningham, a digital communications specialist at the School of Business. “As a queer person working at the School of Business, I am grateful to be surrounded by inclusive colleagues who value my identity and perspective.”
This year – for the first time – students, staff and alumni can take advantage of the School of Business's Inclusive Leadership Certificate program. The Inclusive Leadership Certificate, which can be included on CVs, includes skill development workshops to strengthen competencies like working across differences, holding DEI conversations, and championing inclusive changes in the workplace.
“I’m so glad to hear about all the LBGTQ+ celebration events on campus,” said Professor Wei Zheng, an associate professor and the Endowed Richard R. Roscitt Chair in Leadership. “They remind us that we’re multidimensional, multicultural, and ever-evolving beings, and we have a lot to learn about who we are and how we can better relate to familiar and unfamiliar people. I hope we build Stevens into a place where all gender expressions and sexual orientations are not only accepted but also integrated into how we teach, learn, and make social and technological breakthroughs.”
On campus, there are a number of LGBTQ+ resources. Students have access to gender inclusive housing; gender-neutral bathrooms; name, pronoun, and gender changes available; and safe-zone training. Student organizations designed for students with LGBTQ identities organize events on campus, including social events, networking, and professional development.
Stevens has a variety of resources and supportive initiatives in support of our LGBTQ+ community, like gender-inclusive restrooms and housing, Safe Zone LGBTQ+ Allyship Trainings available to students, faculty and staff, and more (see all resources at www.stevens.edu/LGBTQ).
This past year, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, in collaboration with the Athletics Department and Fraternity & Sorority Life, brought Hudson Taylor (Founder of Athlete Ally) to campus for a staff training, dinner with our Inclusion Reps Program, and a campus-wide talk. Taylor focused on LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports as well as in society more generally. We plan to bring another speaker this year to continue building an educated and empowered community.
“Considering increased resources, representation, and events supporting the LGBTQ+ community at Stevens, the environment is certainly better than in past years and I hope to see it continually improve,” said Liliana Delman, Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “That being said, I am not a student and we must recognize that every individual has varied experiences at Stevens.”
More information about resources for LGBTQ+ members of the Stevens community can be found at stevens.edu/LGBTQ.