Stanford Offers ‘Boot Camp’ For Gay Business Leaders

Do we as LGBT business leaders need to think differently about business?  Do we have more or unique challenges than our straight counterparts?  Stanford University thinks so and that is why they will be offering a new leadership program intended to help more LGBT business leaders reach not only he corner office, but the top of the corporate ladder.

The Graduate School of Business will hold the first Stanford LGBT Executive Leadership Program in late July. The week long boot camp, hailed as the first of its kind at the university level, will cater to mid career leaders who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Participants will undergo personal leadership assessments and get management training—a condensed version of the school’s popular “Acting With Power” course, as well as instruction in design thinking, according to the program’s directors, professor Sarah Soule and lecturer Thomas Wurster. The course will also address topics like authentic leadership and being open about sexuality at work, often thorny workplace issues for gay managers.

Drs. Soule and Wurster initially set out to find a way the business school could advance LGBT business leaders. They canvassed executives and human-resources managers, who said they wanted executive-training offerings for gay managers, said Dr. Wurster, a former senior partner at management-consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, where he co-founded the organization’s LGBT network. Companies can nominate employees to apply for the roughly 50 slots in the program, and individuals can also apply. Tuition will be about $12,000 and the ideal candidate, the faculty say, has about 10 years of professional experience and five years of management experience

“We’re at an inflection point. Companies are moving quickly to build out diversity in their leadership teams, but we’ve seen relatively few senior executives who are LGBT and out,” Dr. Wurster said.

Employers have grown more accommodating of employees who identify as LGBT recently, with employee-resource groups and inclusive benefits policies. Yet Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook, who publicly came out years after he was named chief executive, is believed to be the only openly gay CEO among the Fortune 500 list of top U.S. companies.

Joel Simkhai, CEO of Grindr LLC, a gay-dating app, attributes some of his success to his network of LGBT professionals, and says the networking and mentoring in Stanford’s program could benefit other business leaders.

“When I was coming out 20 years ago, there weren’t any openly gay business executives as role models,” Mr. Simkhai says. “One of my biggest fears was that I wouldn’t be successful, that there would be no career opportunities for me and that I would live a life of stereotypes.”

Matt MacInnis, chief executive of Inkling, an enterprise-content platform, has been openly gay since ninth grade. Still, he says he struggled with these issues while pitching his startup to investors. One asked Mr. MacInnis, who had recently married his husband and wears a wedding band, about his wife. The CEO chose not to correct the investor, in case the revelation jeopardized the potential deal.

Having to agonize over what to say in such situations “translates in business into a lack of confidence,” he says. Having a dedicated program and time to work through how to be both an authentic leader and an openly gay one could help other leaders excel, he said. –

What do you think?  From your personal experiences, do you feel a program like this is necessary?  Do we face different challenges in the business world because we are LGBT?  To be successful, do we need to approach the business frontier differently than non-LGBT business leaders?

Leave your thoughts below.

If you are interested in the program, go to the Stanford Information Page here.



LGBT Executive Leadership Program

How can you become a more authentic leader? How can you effectively enhance your power and influence? What can design thinking teach you about building strong LGBT and ally networks?

The LGBT Executive Leadership Program gives you the strategic insights, personal leadership skills, and powerful network to accelerate your career. This is 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 Dates: July 31 – August 5, 2016
Application Deadline: Jun 24, 2016
$12,000 USD

Price subject to change. Program tuition includes private accommodations, all meals, and course materials. –

What do you think?