Forging a new path: LBS’s journey towards inclusion

We’re proud to be the first education institution to achieve the UK's top certificate for its diversity, inclusion and belonging programmes


We are proud to be the first education institution to achieve the UK's top certificate for its diversity, inclusion and belonging programmes

LGBTQ+ inclusion is much more than the sum of its letters. The broader objective, as set out in our LBS Diversity and Inclusion 2023 annual report, is to nurture a community in which everyone can be their authentic selves, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This Pride month, foundations are in place and progress is visible on campus. 

For starters, notice new displays of pronouns on pins, plasma screens and email signatures. The opportunity to choose “He/Him” ,“They/Them”, “She/Her”, "He/They" or "She/They", or indeed none of the above. As most know, the gesture of putting forward your preferred pronouns tells others how to refer to you, normalising introductions that could feel stigmatising to some, especially for trans and non-binary individuals. And yet, of course, the right not to declare pronouns is respected, too.

“It’s not about ticking boxes, it’s about mapping out the steps to make progress in the diversity and inclusion space”

But we mention it here because more pronouns abound this spring serves as a fresh indication of LBS’s long-term commitment to fostering diversity, inclusion and belonging for all, in line with the School’s policies and behaviours. Here’s a brief look at its deeper roots.

Building robust foundations

Hannah Millard, Associate Director, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging and Employee Experience, explains the bigger picture: “We’re looking to what is essentially cultural change to make sure ‘belonging’ is a lived experience – recognizing wins, where we can, along the way.” She notes that LBS has worked for years to gain accreditation from the rigorous National Equality Standard (NES), run by EY. The NES diagnostic covers 35 competencies along seven pillars relevant to diversity, equity and inclusion – with LGBTQ+ inclusion highlighted as a priority area. Crucially, NES certification comes with recommendations for future actions to continue progress. “Preparing for NES certification helped to build our current three-year strategy,” she explains. “It’s not about ticking boxes: it’s about mapping out the steps, we as an institution, need to collectively take to continue to make progress in the diversity and inclusion space.”

With LBS’s first NES assessment in July 2021 highlighting areas for improvement, its second also yielded very good news. In April 2023, LBS had become the very first education institution to achieve this. 

While the NES assesses the workplace, not any teaching curricula, it absolutely aligns with LBS’s overarching goal to “ensure that everyone who is in our LBS community – including staff, faculty and students – can belong and thrive,” says Jane Gibbon, Chief People Officer. And with NES accreditation, the work to keep on improving continues. 

Channels for change-makers

Along those lines, for LBS faculty, staff and a diverse student body, here are three channels for support and for advocating more change:

  • Out in Business, the LGBTQ+ student club, has been pursuing its mission for over 20 years: “to help members fulfil career development goals and make the business world more inclusive.” Networking, advocacy and support are all evident at Out in Business’s premier event, EUROUT, which is held each November. EUROUT 2022, the 10th annual edition, featured a record number of delegates and corporate partners.
  • PROUD@LBS, the LGBTQ+ and allies staff network, has been active in developing new initiatives, raising awareness and creating a safe and supportive space for all interested colleagues. It also works with the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Committee of LBS to ensure the issues of gender identity and sexual orientation are addressed at the highest level. Danny Attias, Chief Technology Officer, has stepped up as PROUD’s executive sponsor. His work to help get this spring's pronoun initiative out of the gates is a reminder of the power of allyship for LGBTQ+ communities at the leadership level. 
  • Partnership with MyGwork, a global networking resource for LGBTQ+ professionals, which hosts a job board and events, such as its annual WorkPride conference scheduled for 19 – 23 June. WorkPride is set to feature over 200 international speakers across 50+ sessions. London Business School’s partnership with MyGwork helps it further attract and engage a diverse talent pool.

Collectively driving change

Driven by the networks of advocates, here are some recent initiatives intended to ensure a safe and inclusive environment:

  • Trans equality policy (launched January 2022): The purpose is to provide a framework for School support to all individuals who identify as trans within staff, faculty, students, alumni and guests of LBS. That support includes, for example, a commitment to providing gender-neutral facilities where possible. 
  • Inclusive language guide (launched January 2023): While this guide is internal, intended for staff and faculty, it helps drive inclusion efforts by offering comprehensive guidelines to appropriate terms for gender and sexual orientation, among other identity characteristics. It also provides guidance on the use of language and helps faculty and staff set the tone for inclusive learning. 
  • Pronoun initiative (launched May 2023): Yes, this is the source of the pronoun pin badges and more. Notably, the new pronoun initiative was led by both the student group Out in Business and the staff network PROUD@LBS, with support from the DIB Advisory Board, DIB Committee and several faculty members. “It’s the first joint initiative bringing together students, staff and faculty on this important issue, which is a positive to celebrate,” notes Millard.

The path forward

“It’s a journey; inclusion is a journey,” says Eunice Oyedeji, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Advisor. “Although we have the National Equality Standard in hand, there is so much more to focus on, so we’ll just keep branching out from there.” And that includes working on other priority areas for equality, such as race and ethnicity. 

At the end of the day, driving inclusion is a means to, as Jane Gibbon puts it: “ensure that everyone who is in our community can belong and thrive. And that is about achieving our purpose of making an impact on the way the world does business and the way that business impacts the world.”

For more information head to our DIB hub


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