The Importance of LGTBQ+ Clubs in Business Schools

Heading into business school is an opportunity to reflect and grow professionally, explore new career paths, and form new relationships and friendships. A change of environment provides the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual while developing the skills needed for career success. For many LGBTQ+ students, it’s also a chance to connect with other members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Some will use this as a time to reconnect with the wider community after their early years on the job, during which they may have felt dissociated either due to the anxiety of “being out” or simply a lack of LGBTQ+ colleagues. There will also be students from strict backgrounds or countries where LGBTQ+ identities are not widely supported or even allowed, making this the first opportunity where they feel comfortable in their sexuality and can share their experiences with others who may have found themselves in similar situations.

“It is necessary to affirm that these students are welcome in our school and our campuses and are encouraged to claim their identity”, declares Mathilde Nabarette, president of UNITE, the LGBTQ+ club of ESSEC Business School. “Graduate is a pivotal time and finding community at this stage can help students regain confidence and assert themselves.”

Via Abolencia, LGBTQ+ club Q@HaasFrom a student welfare perspective, LGBTQ+ clubs and associations are an important way for business schools to make non-straight students feel welcome and supported while in school. This was certainly the case for Via Abolencia, an MBA/MPH student at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, when they decided to join their LGBTQ+ club [email protected] Currently, one of the club’s co-presidents explains, “Having a connection to the queer community during my business studies was important to me when choosing a program. I joined [email protected] to have a safe space with people who have gone through similar experiences, and also to be active in creating a more inclusive environment for people of all identities while studying business.

From a business perspective, they provide opportunities for networking and group activities through event planning. Additionally, by creating a friendly environment for students of all sexual orientations, they encourage diversity among graduates and faculty.

Michael Berger, Yale LGBTQ+ Club“Even for those who were ‘out’ before business school, LGBTQ+ affinity clubs can be zones of refuge from the heteronormative world of business,” says Michael Berger, a recent MBA graduate from the Yale School of Management and one of the seven former co-leaders of the school’s LGBTQ+ association, called Out of Office.

“It’s important for schools to create identity-based affinity groups (including but not limited to LGBTQ+ groups) for students so they can have safe, nurturing, and nurturing spaces. to explore or reinforce their many intersecting identities,” he adds.

It is important to recognize that while these associations are designed to provide safe spaces for students who are in minority groups, in the case of LGBTQ+ clubs, they are not insular-centric. On the contrary: many clubs create opportunities for their members to connect with individuals and institutions outside of business school, which benefits their future careers.

Imperial College Business School’s LGBTQ+ and Allies Club hosts targeted recruitment events, as well as trips and webinars. The group connects its members with LGBTQ-friendly companies and advises graduates on how to handle day-to-day issues that may arise from potential discrimination in less progressive workplaces.

“When I started my master’s, I was a little overwhelmed with being at a new university and not knowing anyone. But finding this safe space of strangers coming together to support each other really gave me a sense of belonging that I wanted to pass on to future and current members,” says Mona Baumann, one of the leaders of the LGBTQ+ initiative FS Unity. at the Frankfurt School. of Finance & Management, and a Master in Management (MiM) student.

“As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I believe it is my responsibility to fight to create and improve safe spaces everywhere, to raise awareness of current issues, to educate myself and others about all relevant LGBTQIA+ issues, as well as advocating for those who face (intersectional) discrimination,” says Sven Goebel, fellow FS Unity lead and MiM student.

“The initiative provides networking opportunities in various business sectors. In addition to regular monthly member meetings, FS Unity hosts on-campus events, career fair tours, and guest talks, all aimed at connecting LGBTQIA+ students and professionals.

Organizations such as ESADE Business School’s LGBTQ+ & Allies Club have found that leveraging school alumni engagement is an effective way to create networking opportunities for LGBTQ+ students, in addition to events on campus and social activities to create a community atmosphere. ESMT Berlin also seeks to provide a “safe harbor” for those who may feel excluded from heteronormative environments, and its Queery Club has become a hub of diversity between the institution and the business world.

Events are often a way for LGBTQ+ associations to combine many of their goals, allowing students to socialize as well as connect with new people and sometimes educate those outside of the community about societal issues. that affect the community. Colorful CBS is Copenhagen Business School’s LGBTQ+ club and is open to all students studying at the institution, including those studying the MBA and EMBA programs.

At the start of the spring semester each year, Copenhagen Business School also forms an organizing committee to organize social and academic events in preparation for their participation in Copenhagen Pride in August. They also organize fun activities such as drag bingo, as well as platform LGBTQ+ speakers at a series of activist booths.

“I think highlighting LGBTQ+ people in the workplace is paramount, but not necessarily strongly. Highlighting their accomplishments as you would any cis/straight person is a must,” says Blanche Pitzus, member from ESCP Business School’s LGBTQ+ student association, ESCAPE.

“LGBTQ+ people are not a tool for a company to flaunt – ‘Look how progressive we are! This manager is pansexual!’ – I think they should be given the opportunity to talk about their experiences and whether being part of the LGBTQ+ community has created any difficulties for them,” she adds.

“Also, policies focused on recruiting LGBTQ+ youth after school are great, but they don’t go any further; it is important to see if they then progress to higher positions at the same rate as equally qualified straight/cis people or if a glass ceiling seems to appear.

Em’Brace, emlyon business school’s LGBTQ+ club, allows its members to take part in round tables organized in collaboration with Forum, a student union that allows graduates to exchange views with professionals from the political, artistic, sports and social spheres. economic. The company aims to create a space for discussion where people can experience different perspectives on what it means to live with your sexual orientation.

“Without examples of where queer people can be successful and in leadership positions, LGBTQ+ students may be self-minimizing and assuming they can’t accomplish as much as their straight peers,” says recent graduate Courtney Cheng. MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management and former co-president of the [email protected] club.

According to Jeetendra Khilnani, co-chair of the OutClass Club at New York University Stern School of Business, a strong LGBTQ+ presence on networking sites like LinkedIn can help boost the confidence of graduates about to embark on their careers.

“Every time I read an article on LinkedIn highlighting a queer individual, I felt inspired to live my truth. I know there are millions of queer individuals around the world who struggle with this daily,” says -he.

LGBTQ+ clubs and associations serve a variety of purposes for business school students. They are a safe space for people who may feel isolated in the heteronormative world of business, providing them with peer groups with whom they can share their experiences. In addition to offering social activities, they create opportunities for networking and educational discussions highlighting the successes of LGBTQ+ people. By connecting with LGBTQ+ friendly businesses, they can help advance students’ careers, and also give businesses a first port of call in finding young talent from the community.

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