The direction of diversity for the future of LGBT+ in business

For 2020 the Munich Pride Week is going on from 4 July till 12 July. We as a Munich based Business School want to use this opportunity to share some of the stories about LGBT+ in the Henley-context all around the world!

By Will Murray

The current direction of diversity in the workplace has been extremely positive. From the large number of businesses at the countrywide Pride events, to the number of senior positions being held by those who identify as LGBT+, it could be said we are heading in the right direction.

However, it’s not all plain sailing, as a recent Stonewall survey found that “35 per cent of LGBT staff have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.” This suggests that there is much more that needs to be done. When I was carrying out my research of graduate roles, one of the many factors I was looking for was how the company celebrated diversity. As an out gay man, I did not feel comfortable starting a career in a firm that did not support or promote diversity as it would feel like a step backwards.

Even so, when I was about to start my role at an incredibly inclusive firm, I did feel a little apprehensive, even when I had no reason to feel so. I was lucky to be joining an industry that celebrated diversity, so why did I feel this apprehension?

Stepping into the world of work, outside of the safe bubble of University, is a major life change in its own right and it is ever so easy to slip back “into the closet.”

I feel that therefore it is crucial for businesses to have a supportive and inclusive environment in the workplace for their employees not to fall back into themselves.

Diversity should be at the very heart of a company’s culture, not as an additional afterthought. Depending on the size of the company, creating societies or committees will allow for employees to feel more at ease, and meet other LGBT+ who are working at the company. If they are attending Pride, it should be because they are proud of their employees and not just because of the marketing.

From day one, the graduates of the future should be able to be the true version of themselves and not the version that they feel they have to be. They should be able to mention that they have a same-sex partner. They shouldn’t have to feel that they need to lie or keep hidden major portions of their lives.

From a business point of view, it really is a no-brainer, employees who can be themselves are going to be happy and productive employees, especially in an environment where differences are celebrated.

In my eyes, the ultimate goal is for us to reach a point where diversity isn’t discussed because it’s an innate part of the business landscape. Graduates and employees would feel that they are valued, respected and most importantly happy and healthy in their new roles.

Hopefully, that future is much closer than we realise.

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The University of Reading and Henley Business School in Germany are closely monitoring the situation regarding the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19 and we have established a senior group to direct the University’s response.

Our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our staff, students and visitors and minimise disruption to University activities. We are following all government advice including health advice from Public Health England, the Health Authorities in Germany and travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as the German Foreign Ministry.

For all programme participants and customers of Henley Business School Germany, we advise that it remains safe for most people to continue to go to work, school and other public places, as long as you comply with the guidelines provided by state authorities, of which a list of links can be found here below. We only ask you to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to do so by a medical professional or other competent authority.

So far we have not been advised of any wider health implications for programme participants in Germany-based courses. However, if you have been traveling recently to affected areas and suspect that you might have been exposed to the virus, please do notify us early so that we can put in place the necessary measures for alternative access to course materials and lectures as you may need to self-isolate and not be able to participate in face-to-face workshops.

Information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus, including the current situation in Germany and information about the virus and its symptoms is available on the Bavarian Health Ministry info page on the COVID-19 outbreak (in German).

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Telephone hotlines & further information

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