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Penn business school offers new DEI concentration

Median salary for a ‘DEI manager’ at a large company is $131,000 a year, according to Salary.com

Students entering the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania next fall can choose to major in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as an undergraduate or add it to their MBA.

The university promises to train students “to face the challenges involved in creating and maintaining organizations that are diverse, inclusive, and rooted in equity” by “investigating how social, psychological, and economic factors affect the performance of individuals, groups, and firms.” Students can also add a focus in “Environmental, Social and Governance Factors for Business.”

The College Fix reached out to the Wharton press office to ask what motivated the establishment of the major and for what kind of careers it prepares students.

Spokesperson Emily Hemming told The Fix on Wednesday she would check if someone was available to comment, but ultimately deferred to a news release and Fortune article.

Ben Zeisloft, a reporter at The Daily Wire and graduate of Wharton, wrote on Twitter earlier this month that while it is “disturbing” that students at the school can now major in DEI, the emphasis is nothing new.

“I graduated from Wharton five months ago. While it is certainly disturbing that one of the world’s best business schools now explicitly offers DEI and ESG majors, the underlying ideologies are already in the air,” he tweeted.

“Every class, except for some of the purely quantitative finance and accounting courses, weighs DEI and ESG,” Zeisloft continued. “On multiple occasions I watched guest speakers discuss LGBTQ inclusion even though it had nothing to do with the coursework.”

“Every Wharton student is already a DEI and ESG major,” he wrote. “It’s just learned by osmosis. And these are the students most zealously pursued by Wall Street and Silicon Valley. They manage retirement savings and pick the technologies that receive capital. And you pay the price.”

DEI major will prepare students to build institutions ‘rooted in equity’

“Students who pursue the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion concentration will not only be well prepared for DEI-focused careers, they will also be prepared to be leaders of change in any organizational role,” according to the major information page. It requires four credits beyond the required Wharton core curriculum, and its requirements draw on courses in other Wharton departments, including Management, Legal Studies and Business Ethics.

“The program’s core comes from existing Wharton courses that combine DEI competencies with traditional business skills,” according to Fortune. “Examples include a class on data analytics that focuses on the inherent biases built into seemingly impartial algorithms and the ‘economics of diversity,’ which teaches how shortcomings in representation can stunt a firm’s financial performance.”

The new major is “intentionally interdisciplinary and designed for students who wish to become more prepared for DEI-focused careers or leaders of DEI-related change in any organizational role,” Wharton professor of management Stephanie Creary told Fortune. 

“Diversity positions have only recently become prominent following the social justice movement of 2020,” Fortune reported. “But they’ve been the second fastest-growing job title in the U.S. over the past five years, according to a February LinkedIn report.

“The average starting salary for Wharton MBAs is between $130,000 and $165,000 a year, while the median salary for a DEI manager at a large company is $131,000 a year, according to the salary tracking website Salary.com,” Fortune reported.

A philosopher opined on Twitter that an emphasis on “diversity, equity and inclusion” makes the most sense in a profit-making context.

“If you really understand DEI, it makes perfect sense that it’s in a business school,” philosopher Jennifer Frey tweeted in response to the news. Frey is a professor at the University of South Carolina.

The Fix emailed Frey asking her to elaborate, but it has not received a response.

MORE: U. of Oklahoma dedicates a full week to diversity, equity and inclusion

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Ronald Sherman is a student at Northern Virginia Community College where he is studying criminal justice. His primary interests are philosophy, history, theology, criminology, and politics. He is a devout Roman Catholic and serves as an officer on his local Knights of Columbus council.