A course on diversity should be added to Wharton’s Core Curriculum. Diversity, or the lack thereof, is a fundamental concern that affects all business industries at every level of an organization. Wharton students are tomorrow’s leaders and all of us should be equipped with a baseline set of skills to identify instances of bias in hiring practices, promotion trends, and retention rates at our future firms.
Some may argue that Professor Stephanie Creary’s Management 624 Class Leading Diversity in Organizations should suffice, but I beg to differ. Management 224 is an elective class. Students self-select into that course, and likely already recognize the need to tackle systemic inequity in the workplace.
Wharton does not require students to learn about diversity. Even though there are numerous training events and workshops on the subject, students must prioritize these sessions over other events in the same time slot. Theoretically, a student could graduate from The Wharton School without learning the basic building blocks of securing the future of an organization by ensuring that it is diverse.
I recently took Management 801 – Entrepreneurship. In one of his lectures, the professor discussed the inequity around VC funding for women and minority founded startups. The professor highlighted the inherent bias that may underlie this trend, even though it might not be purposeful. As future business leaders, we at Wharton must be conscious of these biases and should seek to put all entrepreneurs on a level playing field regardless of their gender or ethnic background. Professors must both acknowledge and make us aware of the inherent inequalities that exist in the business world so that we can reverse these trends.
Last month, I met with Academic Affairs, to discuss adding diversity to the Core Curriculum at Wharton. While I am against making prescriptions to professors for how to tailor their curriculum, I hope that the faculty continues to equip us to face the business world’s indisputable changes with diversity. Students must realize the strength that diverse backgrounds bring to an organization, and must learn to recognize the unconscious biases that exist in the business world. In doing so, they can become true leaders who exemplify Wharton’s core values. A Core diversity class would be an important first step in this direction.