23 Nov 2017
Europe’s leading LGBTQ conference attracts top speakers and a record number of delegates
There was strength in numbers at EUROUT2017, Europe's leading LGBTQ conference for graduate students, MBAs, PhDs, alumni and their allies from top business schools around the world. This year’s event, which took place at London’s Hilton Tower Bridge, featured 40 speakers, 400 delegates, 50 companies and representation from 20 business schools globally.
The three-day conference was organised by Out in Business, one of London Business School’s (LBS) most popular student clubs with 900 members. The stellar line-up of speakers at this year’s event included Sue Nabi, founder and CEO of Orveda and former worldwide president of L’Oreal and Lancôme, who talked about using the "the power of difference" to accelerate your career and change the world, and Aneeta Rattan, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at LBS.
Rufus Gifford, the US Ambassador to Denmark, spoke about diplomacy and the political landscape in the Trump era and his recently announced bid for Congress. He shared the simple advice he once received from Barack Obama: "Go be you.”
Lagos-born Bisi Alimi, the first ever person to come out as gay on national television in Nigeria and whose article The development costs of homophobia has been translated into 15 languages, discussed LGBTQ rights in Africa and what students here can do to help.
GE Digital’s Deborah Sherry, General Manager and Chief Commercial Officer, Europe at GE Digital and a London Business School (LBS) alumna, gave her pointers for success in business.
“One, don’t take stuff personally or you hurt your own self-confidence,” she said. “Ultimately, other people’s prejudices and shortcomings are their problem. You can’t let it impact you personally or it will sap your energy and your leadership.”
Two, build strong networks. “Then, when you do face issues you will be able to leverage that sense of power.” Three, pick the right companies to work for and live those values. “If your company isn’t supportive of you, if that environment is not working for you – choose another company. Look at what’s on the walls when you go to the interview. See what their KPIs for diversity are – are they building a culture where you can thrive?”
Sherry described being an MBA student at LBS from 1995 to 1997 – the first time she felt able to be openly gay. “I held a lot of leadership positions at the School and it helped me build will and strength,” she said. In the workplace, it took time to build the courage to reveal her sexuality but the benefit was obvious. “When I was out, I was a better leader. There was no going back.”
“When people can be themselves in the workplace, you, your team and your company are more productive,” she said. “There is detailed research showing the correlation. Why this is important? Because it makes a difference: not just to our everyday happiness but to what we can deliver to our organisations.”