As part of a commitment to celebrating and examining diversity, the MBA community at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has, since 2015, observed an annual Return on Equality (ROE) Week—recently renamed One Wharton Week. Throughout the week, held this year from February 12th through 15th, MBA students gather to build community and create an open dialogue about diversity through lectures, panels, and other special events.
“One Wharton Week has evolved in the three years since Return on Equality was founded, but at its core, it’s still the greatest demonstration of how the Wharton community can come together and learn from each other,” Simone Thomas, WG’18, co-president of ROE, explained in a news story on the Wharton website. ROE is a student-led coalition with the stated vision of making Wharton “a pioneering institution that deliberately equips students to be leaders and advocates of inclusive organizational practices, enabling individuals to be recognized and valued as their whole selves.”
One Wharton Week is made possible by a coalition of clubs and student organizations from across the university that come together to put on programming. In the mix this year, the Wharton Analytics Club hosted an event examining bias in technology and algorithms. The Media & Entertainment Club also screened the movie Get Out, which addresses a range of topics related to racism, and followed up the viewing with small group discussions.
“We wanted this collaborative effort to express the deep commitment from all groups to diversity and inclusion work here at Wharton,” said Thomas.
Other events included a discussion of personal faith, a talk from Vice Dean of the MBA Program Howard Kaufold entitled “The Business of Equity,” and an examination of the #MeToo movement. The #MeToo talk was one of the most highly anticipated events for the week, staged amid an intense political climate on campus and many efforts to make a difference put forth by students, organizations, and administrators.
“We’re hoping to facilitate an open discussion in which we can understand the experience and thoughts from both genders and provide a platform for people to ask questions about a very uncomfortable and complicated topic,” Thomas explained. A full schedule of the events hosted during One Wharton Week is listed here.
Although One Wharton Week is largely student run—with members of the MBA Classes of 2018 and 2019 in charge of securing speakers, promoting the week, and advising on content—it also receives strong administrative support. This partnership between the administration and students was formed in 2017 when Kaufold asked members of the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Steering Committee to meet with students to collaborate and advise on the MBA program’s diversity and inclusion strategy.
Below is a sneak peek inside One Wharton Week 2018.