In recent years, an increasing number of top MBA programs have begun giving applicants the option to disclose their sexual orientation in their application.
But for those programs that don’t explicitly give this option, and even for those that do (checking a box isn’t really telling a story, after all,) should an MBA applicant disclose their orientation to the adcom?
Simply put, MBA adcoms are looking to learn who you are through your application. They want to get a sense of what drives you, what makes you tick, what kinds of perspectives you can bring to solving complex problems. They’re looking for any context you can provide that can help them to get a fuller picture of your whole self. If your sexual identity is a salient factor of who you are (and of course it is!) then our answer to whether you should disclose your orientation is a resounding “yes!” (Or, in my words, “yasss queen!”)
Moreover, pretty much every MBA champions diversity, and LGBTQ applicants certainly play a part in crafting a diverse campus, so showcasing this one way that you can contribute to a more robust campus experience can certainly help to convince the adcom that you will add something special to campus life.
Great! How do I do it?
So, besides checking a box if you’re given the opportunity, how do you disclose to the adcom that you’re out and proud without devoting too much precious word-count to the issue?
There are a couple economical ways to get your point across. For example, in your response to the “why this program” essay prompt, claiming that you plan to get involved in the program’s LGBTQ student group can show that you’re proactive about fostering networks and community and also that you’ve done some research in the school’s cultural offerings.
If you don’t have the word-count to devote to this, put it in your resume! Did your past place of employment have an LBGTQ network? If so, list in a bullet that you were involved, and state the kind of active roles you played in fostering that network. Outside of work, if you’ve volunteered for any LGBTQ advocacy organization list this in your volunteer work! Perhaps you played in a gay sports league in your city – you can definitely list that in the personal section of your resume along with any other passions or hobbies. Being involved in LGBTQ organizations, whether at work or extra-professionally, can give an applicant yet another way to showcase their leadership, and that’s certainly a winning characteristic of any strong MBA applicant.
Recommended Reading: The Widening Range of MBA Applicants
As a bonus incentive, beyond rounding out your application and contributing to campus diversity, identifying as LGBTQ in your MBA application could potentially qualify you for some extra coins, which can go a long way toward helping you reach your MBA dream. The non-profit scholarship organization, Reaching Out LGBTQ (ROMBA) Fellowship Program, provides upwards of $1.3mn to queer-identified MBA applicants each year, plus a number of mentorship/networking opportunities that could pay off for years to come!
So, if you so choose to join the ranks of out-and-proud business leaders such as Apple’s Tim Cook and former Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey, we say: go ahead! In today’s MBA environment, it can really only help to differentiate you from the applicant pool and tell a fuller story about who you are as a person and leader.
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