Pride Month is celebrated in June worldwide. From parades and concerts to glitter and rainbow flags, communities come together to show their support. IE University celebrates pride in their own unique way—hosting the largest, longest running international LGBT+ conference in Europe: LGBT+@Work.
The LGBT+@Work initiative was an idea from students and alumni that came to fruition in 2006. Several students met with IE University president, Santiago Íñiguez, to propose their idea. The plan was to partner up with companies and institutions across the world with one simple goal: to create a diverse and inclusive community that promotes ideas and opportunities for LGBT+ students and professionals. This year, the two-day event took place on July 1 and July 2 at the IE Tower, featuring speeches and forums from LGBT+ professionals from around the world.
This initiative is the first of its kind, the longest running LGBT+ business conference in Europe and the third longest in the world. It’s no surprise that IE University would host the event, especially as they are no stranger to diversity, welcoming students from across the globe. One hundred forty countries are represented in the more than seven thousand students attending the institution. Diversity and inclusion are part of the core values of IE University, as well as the key to an open and global mindset.
Santiago Íñiguez stands firm in promoting diversity and inclusion, and highlighted just that in his opening remarks at the conference. “What I believe is not only to provide the best possible atmosphere to develop these fantastic professionals, but to transform the world for the better.” The university is the best possible place to convey expression: women make up 69% of full time staff and 51% of undergraduate students. The Gender Equality Office at IE University is working hard gender equality with seminars and other initiatives that develop protocols and address gendered violence awareness and prevention. In addition, IE University faculty is dedicated to continuous research about gender perspectives to implement in their education initiatives. In addition, there are over 100 clubs to choose from, all diverse and inclusive; and a platform has been created to raise awareness for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) issues on the university’s campuses.
The best way to implement change is through education, which is why IE University celebrates diversity and inclusion so openly. As Íñiguez said, “We want to bring the torch of freedom and liberty to the rest of the world.” Additionally, statistics and research have proven time and time again that institutions, organizations and companies that celebrate and promote diversity are much more innovative and spur greater results.
As Pride Month comes to a close, Madrid is just beginning its celebrations. The metropolis is filled with colorful displays, banners and flags to show support. The Pride Parade is set to march on July 9, where more than 500,000 people will attend. At IE University, there is also so much to celebrate. Zayne Imam, engagement officer at IE Business School and former vice president of LGBT+@Work, announced that after 16 years of hard work, the LGBT+@Work Initiative was recognized for their incredible efforts. The Annual Conference of the Association of Business Schools awarded the conference in their 2022 ceremony. It was a monumental moment for the initiative, which is under the umbrella of IE University’s diverse IE Out & Allies Club. The club aims to raise awareness and promote diversity with engaging events and conversations focused on broadening the understanding and support of the LGBT+ community.
Every year, the LGBT+@Work team works around the clock to organize this conference. Event attendees have the opportunity to hear from the most inspirational LGBT+ voices in the business world, helping them see they can also be successful. Among the speakers in this conference are: John Jundert, CPTO of the Financial Times; Javier Bueno and Sagi Sheinkman, co-presidents of the IE Out & Allies Club; Jessica Stern, US Special Envoy to Advance Human Rights of LGBT+ Persons; and Óscar Muñoz, the CEO and co-founder of REDI.
With so many uncertainties within the spectrum of human rights today, LGBT+@Work has worked tirelessly to ensure that organizations and businesses create an environment and atmosphere that is inclusive. As Íñiguez said, “We all deserve to be treated with equal respect and concern. Everyone should not just tolerate the way you live, but applaud the way you live.” That is IE University’s way—ensuring that equality, freedom and inclusiveness are at their core.