Last week, the Governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell, issued Executive Directive One that declared a strong policy of nondiscrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation. The Governor said, “The Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution prohibits discrimination without a rational basis against any class of persons. Discrimination based on factors such as one’s sexual orientation or parental status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.”
Commenting on the Governor’s Directive, President John Casteen of the University of Virginia wrote, “Because the public colleges and universities are Executive Branch agencies, this directive applies to the University of Virginia. The Governor’s citation of the 14th Amendment (the Equal Protection Clause) moves this issue to the highest level of law in the United States.”
At the Darden School, we will continue our practice of treating all current and prospective members of our community with fairness and respect regardless of age, race, gender, disability, parental status, or sexual orientation. Governor McDonnell’s Executive Directive One declares a strong policy of nondiscrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation. Darden commits to welcoming everyone and to avoiding discrimination of all types in the treatment of students, faculty, and staff.
Why do we, as a business school, make such a clear and unequivocal commitment to this practice? As the Governor states, nondiscrimination is the law of the land. But there are at least five additional reasons. First, nondiscrimination is a vital business practice, a feature of meritocratic corporate cultures that underpins all high-performance organizations. Second, by modeling such a culture at Darden, we help to prepare the rising generation of business leaders to be more effective in a world of increasing complexity and diversity. Third, at Darden we teach by the case method, the success of which depends on the open exchange of diverse views—nondiscrimination promotes a vibrant classroom learning experience. Fourth, the business community that Darden serves expects nondiscrimination; it expects to find a diverse community at Darden; and it expects a culture at our school of inclusion and respect. Finally and most important, it is the right thing to do: we should treat others as we would like to be treated.
Let this be crystal clear: the Darden School welcomes candidates for admission or employment regardless of age, race, gender, disability, parental status, or sexual orientation. And we aim to work and learn together consistent with our values and aspirations.
Robert F. Bruner
Dean, Darden School of Business