IE Business School’s LGBT+@Work Conference Win AACSB Award
The Innovations that Inspire Award is a recognition of 16 years of work by IE Out and Allies leaders and the support of IE University
One of IE Business School’s signature initiatives LGBT+@Work was recognized this year by AACSB at its annual conference as of the most noteworthy Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) initiatives across the various 1000+ AACSB member schools. The two-day conference, set to be held July 1&2, started as a small gathering of students 16 years ago and has grown into Europe’s longest-running business school event of its kind. This year it has been incorporated into the official lineup of Madrid Pride.
IE Business School Engagement Officer Zayne Imam traveled to New Orleans in his capacity as former LGBT+@Work leader and current mentor to represent IE. Here he talks about the 16 years of the conference, the impact, inspiration, and community.
What did AACSB highlight as most innovative about LGBT+@Work?
They didn’t specifically share why we were selected. In general, it is clear that the initiatives selected to be showcased are the very best examples that deans and leaders from various Business Schools around the world can learn from. One of the most extraordinary experiences for me personally was the number of deans and leaders of other business schools who came up to me truly amazed by the idea that we had enough LGBT+ students at our business school to achieve this kind of a 16-year run. They believed they didn’t have enough students in their schools to have an initiative of this nature. This is truly a comment on the quality of the engagement of the IE Community and the space we’ve created for our students to feel fully able and adequately supported to be who they are. I have no doubt that there is a large number of LGBT+ students at the universities where the various deans came up to me expressing their surprise. The simple truth is that IE and IE Out & Allies have nurtured a relationship and an environment over time where people not only feel comfortable being openly out the closet on campus, but also feel such a strong sense of community that they work towards initiatives like LGBT+@Work.
What was your reaction when you learned of the award?
It was a beautiful moment in the 16-year history of the LGBT+@Work conference to hear that we would be honored by AACSB as one of their Innovations that Inspire. There was a moment during the opening of the AACSB annual conference when the president was talking about the importance of DEIB principles for the future of business schools, and LGBT+@Work was one of the initiatives in the background of her speech. This initiative, which was built by one student group after another and slowly evolved into the global force it is today, was being showcased to the 1000+ business school leaders as the example to aspire to.
What impact do you think LGBT+@Work has had on the IE community?
This conference has achieved incredible things by building a community of leaders in organizations across the world and inspiring students to embrace their diversity and use it to pave a strong and more stable path for those who’ll come after them. However, the biggest impact that this historic conference has had, is the incredible collection of stories from participants who’ve been inspired to create Employee Resource Groups in their companies, who’ve found friendships and professional collaborations that changed the course of their lives and the lives of their community members, and individuals who heard their own stories through the life experiences of the leaders who chose to be vulnerable and show them they weren’t alone in the unique challenges faced by our community. The key impact is knowing that none of us ever needs to face these challenges alone again—including at work and especially in the workplace.