Stanford Introduces Executive Program for LGBT Leaders

The only program of its kind to be offered by a leading business school, Stanford LGBT Executive Leadership Program addresses the gap in LGBT leadership in the C-Suite.

January 07, 2016

Change wall at Stanford GSB

Where will new 21st-century leaders be found? Stanford Graduate School of Business offers a fresh answer to this enduring challenge.

Beginning in July 2016, with the inauguration of the Stanford LGBT Executive Leadership Program, qualified LGBT candidates will experience a tailored and highly specialized one-week program that combines personal leadership assessments and insights with design thinking innovations. This is believed to be the only executive education program of its kind offered by a leading business school to address the significant gap in leadership for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people in the C-suite.

Program codirectors Tom Wurster and Sarah Soule call the new program and its timing both “inspirational and aspirational,” since its design speaks forcefully to the next generation of LGBT leaders who are highly motivated agents for change.

“The ideal candidate is the LGBT executive with a minimum of 10 years professional experience and 5 years of management experience who is preparing to take on more significant leadership roles,” said Wurster, a lecturer in management at Stanford GSB. He is a former senior partner and managing director with BCG. “We want to ensure a high-quality cohort composed of executives with significant levels of managerial responsibility, from any size company, any industry, and any country.”

“We created this course to help LGBT executives further their personal development as leaders and strengthen their personal networks, and in the process, leverage best practices to transform their organizations,” said Soule, the Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford GSB. “The program combines personal leadership assessments and insights with hands-on design thinking innovation to teach executives to lead with strength and impact. These are invaluable insights that will advance the potential for many promising individuals in our program.”

To be sure, workplace progress in the U.S. for LGBT individuals has steadily improved in the last 20 years. In the latest Corporate Equality Index released in November by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, nearly half of the 851 U.S. companies surveyed received perfect scores for employment policies that achieve equality for LGBT employees. Yet this progress has not translated into a commensurate rise in LGBT-identified corporate executives. Few openly hold top leadership positions in global companies today.

“This program helps accelerate the leap from visibility to visible leadership for LGBT talent,” said J.D. Schramm, EdD, the MBA Class of 1978 Lecturer in Organizational Behavior. He will host a preview webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, from 10 to 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. As part of the select faculty of the new LGBT Executive Leadership Program, Schramm will leverage his expertise around effective communications to deliver the webinar Leading Out Loud: Communication Strategies for LGBT Leaders.

To be held July 31 through August 5, 2016, at the state-of-the-art Knight Management Center, home of Stanford GSB, the executive program features interactive classroom sessions, hands-on experiential workshops, small group discussions, roundtable forums, and prominent guest speakers. The curriculum, delivered by senior members of the faculty, will cover such topics as effective use of power, acting with power, authentic leadership, and influence and decision-making. Apply by June 24, 2016.

“At the end of the week-long program, participants can expect three key takeaways,” said Soule. “A stronger and deeper understanding of their individual opportunities for continued leadership development, a new network of LGBT leaders they can call on to serve as a sounding board and peer mentors throughout their careers, and actionable ideas they can take back to their organizations on leadership as well as ways to build and strengthen LGBT networks within their organizations.”

The LGBT Executive Leadership Program is one of three new Stanford Executive Education offerings introduced this year, and one of two courses with a strong personal leadership component intended to equip executives with knowledge and tools to create maximum impact in their respective organizations. The Innovative Health Care Leader: From Design Thinking to Personal Leadership program is a trailblazing academic partnership between Stanford’s schools of business and medicine designed for executives who seek to drive innovation in their health care organizations. And Strategy Beyond Markets: Building Competitive Advantage Through Government Relations and Public Affairs arms executives with concrete tools, analytical frameworks, and leadership skills to navigate the complex environment of legislators, regulators, interest groups, activists, and the media, to proactively manage risk and seize new opportunities.

The program for LGBT leaders builds on Stanford’s pioneering portfolio of personal leadership training focused on diversifying the top rungs of the corporate ladder. The Advanced Leadership Program for Asian-American Leaders, which launched in 2010, and the Executive Program for Women Leaders, now in its ninth year, are research-driven, career-changing experiences that aim to fundamentally transform the way participants negotiate, manage, and lead.

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