After months of collaboration with a student group, the Wharton School has released a revised version of its Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence that addresses the concerns of the LGBT community.
The Diversity Action Plan now explicitly mentions new efforts to build and support an inclusive community by engaging with on-campus groups such as the LGBT Center and the Wharton Alliance, as well as religious student groups and other groups. This will increase opportunities to reach a diverse audience.
“The plan is divided into three parts: pipeline, recruitment and retention. You build your base, you recruit them and then keep them, so I tried to build something into each of these sections,” Anita Henderson, senior director to the deputy dean of Wharton, said.
When Wharton released its first version of the Faculty Diversity Action Plan in May 2012, the LGBT community was unhappy with the fact that gender identity and sexual orientation were not included in their definition of diversity. Lambda then contacted Wolf and Wharton junior and President Eddy Bueser of the Wharton Alliance, a pre-professional organization for LGBT students, to go into Wharton and talk about their specific concerns.
“We were looking to have sexual orientation mentioned a few more times and then … we wanted to have gender identity added as a form of diversity,” Frank Wolf, vice president of Operations for the Wharton Alliance and Wharton and College sophomore said. “We just wanted to make sure that, that language was explicitly in the document.”
After the University released its own overarching Faculty Diversity Action Plan in June 2011, each school within the university was required to create their own versions by May 2012. However, when the Lambda Alliance and the LGBT working group saw the individual school plans, they felt that there were a few areas lacking in the documents.
After working together with Henderson, the Wharton Alliance was able to make the changes it wanted included in the document, as well as a few more that they did not expect.
According to Wolf, their initial baseline goals were for more frequent mention of sexual orientation and also the explicit mention of gender identity throughout the document. “When I read over the document, I was really pleased to find a few other things included,” Wolf said.
The document also now mentions Penn’s commitment to individuals of different types of marriages, and specifically mentions same-sex partners.
“For us, it was an unprecedented type of initiative that we’ve taken on,” Bueser said. “Historically we’ve never really talked to the administration directly about their plans, and this is the first time that we as an organization have bridged the gap with the administration and the LGBT community.”
Chair of Lambda and College sophomore Dawn Androphy is happy about the work that’s been accomplished. “I think this is really exciting,” she said. “It’s making Wharton a role model for the other schools to follow suit.”
Though the changes have already been made, Henderson still sees it as a work in progress.
“These really are working documents, so I am hoping this is just the start” she said.
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