Think - AT LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL

Being your authentic self is key to living a fulfilling life

Satouka Basso shares her thoughts on how LGBTQ+ individuals can bring their authentic selves to the workplace

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As the workplace takes up an enormous amount of our time, being your authentic self at work contributes to creating a sense of balance and living a fulfilling life. Bringing one's full self to the workplace allows LGBTQ+ individuals to be true to their identities and live authentically. This fosters a sense of well-being, self-acceptance, and emotional fulfilment, which can positively impact overall job satisfaction and mental health.

In the context of the LGBTQ+ community, statistics show the pink ceiling is still very real, and the higher you go, the fewer openly Queer members are part of the organisation. When we look at C-suites or the Fortune 500 rankings, we can see that lack of representation. This can be down to two things: either there are no Queer people up there because they're not being promoted or there are people in those positions but they're not out because they’re afraid of the possible repercussions. We need to change that. 

When LGBTQ+ individuals bring their full selves to the workplace, they contribute to a culture that challenges stereotypes, biases, and discrimination. This can encourage organisational change, leading to the implementation of policies, practices, and programs that support LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality.

My personal journey

Going through my Queerhood, I was a bit of a late bloomer. I understood my sexuality in my late 20s (and later again in my 30s), because I was surrounded by people who were their pure, authentic selves. It opened my eyes to becoming who I wanted to be – out, loud, and proud.

Though I was never quiet about my sexuality, I was never loud about it in the workplace since I didn't feel it would add any value. I was mistaken. That changed when I started working at LBS. Proud@LBS, the LGBTQ+ and allies staff network – for which I’m proudly the co-chair –, led me to bring out my true self. It began at a virtual departmental team meeting during LGBTQ+ History Month. I wanted to be the moderator of this meeting and I started with, “I want to talk about LGBTQ+ History Month because it's close to my heart. Let me reintroduce myself. My name is Satouka, pronoun she, her, and I am a bisexual woman.” 

I didn't expect the relief I’d feel once I came out in the workplace. Suddenly, I had people reaching out to me, congratulating me, asking me advice and questions regarding LGBTQ+ topics – it was the snowball effect I needed. It also empowered me to push for a scholarship dedicated to increasing LGBTQ+ representation in Leadership Programmes at LBS and this was granted.

A safe space

Creating a safe and inclusive environment for employees is paramount to the Proud@LBS network, demonstrated by our network champions, specifically dedicated to this. Everything we share within the network remains confidential.

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“This is a safe place, I can be who I am.”

Another value of bringing your authentic self to the workplace is that people who identify as Queer will feel comfortable. When I come to work I’m wearing my suit jacket with a Pride flag pin, my pronoun pin, and my rainbow lanyard. I’m literally the walking embodiment of Queer visual cues. When you see our Pride bunting in the cafeteria all year round, pronoun posters circulating on the virtual screens, pronoun pins at reception in North Building, and the staff Networks being introduced during your first day induction, it shows the School’s stance towards the LGBTQ+ community – “this is a place where everyone can belong and thrive”. When I introduce myself with my pronouns, people can recognise: “this is a safe place; I can be who I am”.

The chairs and the six champions in the Proud@LBS network constantly represent the Queer community in every aspect of their work life, whether LGBTQ+ themselves or as one of our active allies. That constant of it being part of the conversation will allow people to realise that saying who they are will not be detrimental to their career, this is a safe space. We also serve as role models for others, inspiring and empowering colleagues who may be struggling with their own identities. By sharing their experiences, they can provide support, mentorship, and guidance to individuals who may need it.

Gaining momentum

Proud@LBS is now in its third year and every year we gain more momentum. We have a lot planned for Pride month and throughout the year. On 8th June, we’re holding a wonderful event for staff and faculty: a Pride celebration on campus. For the first time, the Progressive Pride flag will be flying at two points: North Building and Sammy Ofer Centre.

“I'm just being who I am, fighting for my community, every step of the way.”

On 19th to 23rd June, in partnership with myGwork, the virtual WorkPride 2023 conference will take place. This amazing free virtual festival includes a wide range of exciting and informative activities, including panel discussions, workshops, networking opportunities and more. This year, I have the honour of being a panellist, “Community-in-focus panels for ethnicity: Asian.” So, keep an eye out for me! 

Although we’re doing as much as we can, some people still don’t feel like they can be their full selves at work. It is ingrained in them that if they come out, they might be seen differently. But we’re getting there. Together, the Proud@LBS network and DIB are pushing for it. By creating an environment where LGBTQ+ individuals feel safe, supported, and encouraged to bring their full selves to work, organisations can foster a more inclusive, productive, and fulfilling workplace for everyone. We want everybody to feel safe and we have amazing members who want to make our community a Queerer place. 

I am being who I am, representing, fighting for my community, every step of the way.