EUROUT 2022: Championing equity and inclusion

Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ business conference brought together over 400 delegates to discuss issues dear to the LGBTQ+ community

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The 2022 EUROUT conference saw delegates from over 20 business schools and 15 plus companies come together at London Business School to discuss key issues for the LGBTQ+ community in the world of business. This is the 10th year that the conference has been held and, with a career fair, numerous networking opportunities and plenty of laughs and entertainment courtesy of comedians Victoria Olsina, Dee Allum-Gruselle, and British drag queen artist Vanity Milan, there was plenty for delegates to enjoy.

Taking place over the course of three days, EUROUT kicked off on 17 November with a pre-conference drinks reception at Cabana hosted by Salesforce. Then the serious business of the conference itself got underway on 18 November with Julia Hamilton and Cameron Martin, Co-Presidents of LBS’ Out in Business (OiB) Club, which organised the conference along with lead sponsor BCG, welcoming a record number of delegates and corporate partners.

With Transgender Day of Remembrance the day after EUROUT, Julia and Cameron's opening remarks amplified the importance of standing with the entire LGBTQ+ community, particularly alongside trans & non-binary friends, colleagues and siblings. With increases in violence towards the trans community around the world, they stressed the importance of the LGBTQ+ community and allies coming together to take a stance against transphobia and commit to taking action each day to build a safer, better and more just world that celebrates and respects trans & non-binary people everywhere.

The conference organisers had put together an extremely diverse agenda around the theme of ‘Laying the Foundation for Success’, with high-profile speakers representing many of the communities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Many shared moving personal anecdotes as they tackled the key issues of the moment.

Keynote speaker Julio Bruno, Chairman of Mercato Metropolitano, London’s first Sustainable Community Market and also Board Director of Pacha Group, a global entertainment and luxury hospitality platform, spoke about the importance of allowing debate and not shutting out people with different views. He also advised delegates to be who they are, to keep their ethical values in business and to pick companies to work with that they feel have a culture that they feel strongly attached to.

Keynote speaker Amber Hikes, the ACLU’s first Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer and current Deputy Executive Director of Strategy and Culture, spoke about lived experiences being the most valuable thing people can bring to the workplace. They stressed the importance of finding allies, mentors and sponsors, and of people being better advocates and allies themselves.

There were also wise words from LGBTQ+ faculty and ally faculty members Aneeta Rattan, Randall Peterson and Ioannis Ioannou who explored the latest thought leadership and research findings in the DEI space, including considering how best to foster a sense of belonging in the workplace and how that sits at the intersection of the goals of diversity, equity and inclusion; and how to develop strong leadership in the workplace that centres around women, racial minorities and LGBTQ+ people.

Key takeaways from the conference include advice to:

  • find the power players who can help boost the presence and importance of inclusion internally and externally
  • recognise that bringing your authentic self to work can be challenging and difficult. It takes courage to be vulnerable
  • bring someone new to the table – we all need to reflect on our privileges, and sometimes we may need to get up and offer our seat to someone else so they can have a chance to participate & shine
  • recognise that it is not always the role of LGBTQ+ people to educate, and that sometimes people who don’t want to be educated don’t always realise that, in fact, they do want to be educated
  • practice speaking up as an ally – better yet as an accomplice – and look for ways to intervene
  • remember that everyone has a different journey
  • be kind to yourself and others. If something doesn’t feel right, try to address it, but if nothing changes, walk away and find something where you feel comfortable.