This past November, the Out for Business Club at London Business School held it’s annual EurOUT Conference, which attracts participants from business schools throughout Europe. Here’s a great recap by one of the students leading the event:
By: Johnattan Leon
“Where are the lesbians?” joked Liz Bingham, Managing Partner at EY at the 2014 EurOUT Conference: Leading Global Businesses of Tomorrow.
Bingham was one of the distinguished speakers at the 2014 EurOUT Conference hosted by the Out in Business Club at London Business School on November 9th. This year’s edition of EurOUT was the biggest yet, expanding over three days to bring together 150 students and professionals from across Europe to the school’s campus. New to the Conference this year, was the first EurOUT Career Fair aimed at connecting more students with the internal LGBT networks of global companies, and a Sunday brunch to give everyone one last opportunity to network and exchange business cards.
On Friday afternoon EurOUT hosted the first LGBT Career Fair for 10 of the world’s leading consulting, finance, and technology organizations – including BCG, McKinsey, Bain, American Express, Google, and Microsoft – and students from leading advanced-degree programmes in Europe, such as Oxford, LSE, Insead, and Johns Hopkins. It was a unique platform for the companies to show their commitment to diversity recruiting and answer questions about what it is like to be LGBT in their organisation, highly relevant as a study by Deloitte noted that over 85% of employees are not out to their colleagues. Like any good LBS Fair, there was plenty of wine to keep the conversation flowing over to Shoreditch for a McKinsey-hosted dinner and drinks late into the night. For networking purposes, of course!
As arrivals began at 9:30am the following day, it was clear that even if EurOUT was not voted the best LBS Conference like it was in 2013, it should at least get a mention for having the prettiest people. All gathered in LT 6, the Conference explored the challenges the LGBT community is facing today to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to live a fulfilling professional life and become a member of the C-Suite. With keynotes and panels with some of the most successful and influential LGBT business leaders, including Liz Bingham, António Simões (CEO UK HSBC), Nicholas Goad (Managing Director, BCG), and Lord Browne, the audience was challenged and inspired to be authentic in the workplace, and for companies to openly recruit LGBT candidates from the onset. Not only because it might be the “right” thing to do, but as Lord Browne suggested, because it makes business sense: “Is really is important to recruit the best of the best, and it really is good to foster engagement. And I can say this as the member of two minorities, that people from minorities tend to over-compensate [in terms of effort], so why wouldn’t you seek out these groups?” Each speaker provided anecdotes of his/her life to remind everyone that a big part of their success was due to their decision to live an open life, and invest in meaningful relationships with their colleagues and clients. As Lord Browne learned after being outed by the media in 2007, “When you’re in a high-profile position, you have a duty to be authentic and clear on who you are. I wasn’t.”
Later that night, while enjoying a delicious Italian feast at Villandry thanks to BCG, the room was buzzing with excitement discussing the day’s messages and how to apply them to daily life. More so, it was a moment of pride for London Business School, which effectively set the agenda for the discussion around LGBT inclusion in the corporate workplace, bringing together influential leaders with the power to encourage and enforce the message to various corners of the world, particularly those where even today homosexuality is a criminal offense.
And for those who are wondering, the lesbians are at Barclays, claims Amy Stanning, Senior Programme Manager, who shared her moving story of coming out and going through a transition while successfully climbing up the ranks of the bank. She also heads Barclays LGBT Spectrum Network for UK and Europe with…another trans woman!