by Francisco Milán Martínez, MBA 2020
This past October 11th was International Coming Out Day. The initial idea behind this day was created in the 1980s in the US. Its premise was that the most basic form of activism can be coming out to family, friends and colleagues; living one’s life as an openly lesbian or gay person.
London Business School extended the holiday to celebrate International Coming Out Week, and its students used the opportunity to raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ community in business. Students and faculty across campus displayed “Ally” stickers on their nameplates, IDs and door signs. Out in Business club members worked alongside our fellow students as well as professors and the school management team to deliver short presentations in each one of the streams of the school’s programmes. More than 15 gay, lesbian and bisexual students shared their coming out stories with their classmates.
“It was very inspiring listening to Francisco’s story. A lot of us got very emotional. I felt a special connection with him after his speech. Speaking with other classmates, we all agreed that it is fantastic to be part of a Business School that promotes diversity in the way LBS does,” said Max, an MBA 2020.
The majority of the students’ presentations highlighted the importance of the role that their classmates can play in their future workplaces as LGBTQ+ allies. A third of LGBTQ+ people in the UK hide or disguise their sexuality because they are afraid of discrimination or negative reaction from their colleagues. Straight allies can help to bring this figure down to zero by assisting others to understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance, and mutual respect.
MBA students and professionals who would like to become allies need to educate themselves on LGBTQ+ issues. They can start by both accepting friends and family members who identify as LGBTQ+ and by recognizing some of the realities, including discrimination, that members of the LGBTQ+ community face around the world. They can also call out intolerance and discrimination if they see it in their organisations or groups. Working together, we can create open and inclusive environments for all at home, at work, and in our communities.
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