Stanford GSB’s second LGBTQ Executive Leadership Program this summer attracted 46 corporate executives and small business owners — and one newsweekly, the Silicon Valley Business Journal, which was invited to sit in on part of the program. Granted exclusive access, the journal observed as attendees tackled general leadership and development concepts, while examining the implications of dealing with topics important to all leaders in a course designed for the LGBTQ community.
The weeklong program, launched in 2016, is the first of its kind, aimed at mid- to senior-level lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning executives with at least 10 years of professional experience and significant management responsibility.
Sarah A. Soule, a Stanford GSB senior associate dean for academic affairs, said, “The benefit of the LGBTQ-specific group is that the power of [the] lessons [is] unlocked through identity,” the Business Journal reports.
Soule and Thomas Stephen Wurster, a lecturer in management, co-founded the program: the only such program offered by a leading business school, and part of the school’s Executive Education roster. This year, representatives from Silicon Valley businesses including Apple, Facebook, and Adobe joined peers from six countries at classes and workshops on topics such as “Creating Inclusive Workplaces for LGBT Employees” and “Accelerating Your Career Trajectory Through Experiences.”
Most program participants are leaders of their organizations’ diversity efforts, the Business Journal notes. But despite their presence and their efforts, attendee Rosanna Durruthy, head of global diversity at LinkedIn, remarked that the biggest obstacles in the workplace are understanding and awareness.
To this point, Wurster observed that many participants have links not only to employee groups focused on LGBTQ issues, but also to the people in the C-suite, the Business Journal reports. “The way we change trajectories for corporations is to bring the [C-suite] leadership into the conversation,” he said.
Wurster added that he and Soule hope to have a cadre of 500 program graduates in the next decade who will themselves take on those C-suite roles.
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