On July 5, 2018, IEOut & Allies Club, IE University’s LGBTQI* & Allies network, hosted the 12th Annual LGBT@Work Conference at Madrid’s historic 19th century palace, Casa de América, located in Plaza de Cibeles. This year’s theme was “Leading Out Loud” and the event welcomed 200 attendees representative of 29 countries worldwide. LGBTQI* professionals from various industries around the world presented their company’s best LGBTQI* workplace inclusion practices, shared their personal journeys, and discussed what it means to be LGBTQI* in the global workplace today.
Since 2006, IEOut & Allies Club, IE University’s student-led LGBTQI* and allies’ organization, has proudly presented LGBT@Work, the longest-running LGBTQI* work conference in Europe and the 3rd-largest organized by a business school in the world.
The goal of LGBT@Work is to promote the free exchange of ideas and provide a unique networking platform for LGBTQI* students, professionals, and allies. Speakers, sponsors, and attendees from all over the world join LGBT@Work, creating a truly diverse, international, educational, and welcoming learning experience.
Santiago Iñiguez, Executive President of IE University, delivered the conference’s official welcome at 18:30 to an energetic room of attendees, representative of over 40 nationalities from around the globe: “It’s always an honor to be opening this event that we are so proud of.” His opening remarks addressed the conference’s 2018 theme, “Leading Out Loud.”
The 2018 LGBT@Work Speakers Series began with Hyung Hak Nam, President of UN-GLOBE of the United Nations, the group representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex employees of the UN system. Nam spoke of his personal aim to change minds and attitudes in the UN system, and his desire to push the UN to be front and center in the fight for equality and inclusion for people of diverse sexual and gender identities everywhere.Next up to the LGBT@Work stage was Johan Turcios (USA), IEOut & Allies Club Coordinator, to introduce Marta Fernández Herraiz, founder of LesWorking & co-general director of REDI (Red Empresarial por la Diversidad e Inclusión LGBT in Spain), who delivered an inspiring message citing the need for lesbian visibility and her motivation behind creating the first international professional network for lesbian women. She is also a board member of the European Lesbian Conference and coordinator of REDI, the first professional network to promote LGBTQI* diversity and inclusion the in workplace in Spain. Her testimony included an emotional video starring the women of LesWorking titled, “Yo Lesbiana” – a video which was first featured on the front page of EL PAÍS on April 26th, the International Day of Lesbian Visibility, and has since received international recognition, awards, and over 500,000 views.
Joël McConnell, Director for Europe and Central Asia for IE University’s International Development Department presented Marijn Pijnenburg, Global Business Development Executive at IBM, LGBT@Work’s 12-year legacy sponsor. Pijnenburg spoke to the importance of sponsoring LGBQI* conferences such as LGBT@Work, citing the desire to see change in professional organizations in the coming years.
Alex Luzar (USA), LGBT@Work Committee, was next up to announce Luisa Ercoli, Global Diversity & Inclusion Manager for Barilla, who spoke about the importance of authenticity and the support from allies within organizations. In September 2013, Guido Barilla, the chairman of Barilla Group made controversial remarks regarding his refusal to feature gay couples in his company’s advertisements and his opposition to adoption by gay parents. Ercoli reflected on her personal experience working for the organization during this time – she transitioned from her position in marketing to a managerial position in the company’s diversity and inclusion office to help the company where she thought it needed it most. In response the to the chairman’s remarks, she and her colleagues created Barilla’s first LGBTQI* employee resource group and leveraged their authenticity to volunteer for special causes to help create a more inclusive workplace environment, allowing other employees to feel safe. Ercoli concluded her speech by
challenging the audience to “bring your authenticity, create an employee resource group, volunteer for a special cause, and help someone to uncover.”
The first half of the LGBT@Work Speakers Series concluded with an introduction by Chris Chinting Kuo (Taiwan), IEOut & Allies Club Coordinator, and a powerful personal story by Joel A. Brown, Esq., CLC, Chief Visionary Officer of Pneumous LLC. Brown is based in San Francisco, California and specializes in cultural intelligence,
leadership, and organizational strategy. As a change agent, Brown works strategically with organizational leaders to cultivate innovative, creative, and adaptive environments where the cultural genius of everyone can be harnessed and leveraged successfully. His captivating storytelling led the audience to follow his high school and college experiences and the double-bias and intersectionality he faced as both a person of color and as a gay man.
Prior to the conference’s intermission, Santiago Iñiguez, Executive President of IE University, anad Michelle “Michi” Raymond, President of IEOut & Allies Club, took to the podium to present the 2018 IEOut & Allies Awards: The Leading Out Loud Award & The IEOut Allie’s Award.
The “Leading Out Loud” Award is given annually to someone who has demonstrated exceptional service and support to the LGBTQI* community. The recipient of this award is someone who has had a significant and positive impact in advancing LGBTQI* initiatives. This year’s recipients were the founding members of IEOut & Allies Club: José de Isasa Fereres, Frank Uffen, Paul Crabtree & Juan Ramirez. In attendance were José de Isasa Fereres and Juan Ramirez, who accepted the award on behalf of the founding members. During their acceptance speech, they surprised the audience by dialing in Paul Crabtree via speaker phone to deliver a riveting testimony of their experience founding IE University’s LGBTQI* club over a decade ago.
For the first time in the conference’s history, an Allies Award was presented to recognize someone who has had a significant and positive impact on the LGBTQI*
community through their demonstration of exceptional service, advocacy, and support. Maaian Lichtensztajn Kaplan was the award’s inaugural recipient in recognition of her work with Fundación Eddy-G, the first LGBTQI* shelter-home for youth in Spain. Earlier in the day, Kaplan and her husband welcomed their second child into the world. Accepting the award on her behalf was her colleague and friend, Ignacio Martinez Mancebo. Speaking passionately of Kaplan’s formidable contributions to the LGBTQI* community, Mancebo concluded by addressing IEOut & Allies Club and Fundación Eddy-G’s long-standing partnership.
Following a networking intermission which included and assortment of traditional Spanish tapas and refreshments sponsored by Mahou, the second-half of LGBT@Work
kicked off with an energetic, humorous, and powerful testimony by Richard Sypniewski, CEO & Managing Director, SAGIN, LLC. Sypniewski was introduced to the stage by Jorge Hoyos (USA/Colombia), IEOut & Allies Club Coordinator. According to Sypniewski, “Education is a fundamental value that breaks down all the walls of indifference.” This belief led him to create SAGIN’s E3 fund which donates 15% of profits to organizations supporting Equality, Education, and Environment. In addition to his professional career, he spoke of his childhood, growing up in a working middle class neighborhood of Chicago, and the close relationship he shared with his father, whom he was raised by after losing his mother at the age of 3 to cancer. His charisma brought the audience to laughter when he openly advertised for a Spanish husband from the stage. “Like all gay American men at the moment, I’d like a second passport.” Sypniewski also developed his own drag character, “Wendy Sitti,” which he performs to raise money for causes supporting equality. He concluded by encouraging the audience to believe in themselves, “…Your success is not tied to working for a big company. Your success is within you. And once you’re out, you will start leading. Follow your heart.”
Leandro Augusto de Oliveira (Brazil), IEOut & Allies Club Coordinator, introduced the conference’s next presenter, Pedro Pina, VP Global Client & Agency Solutions at Google. Pina is a Portuguese-born marketer who joined Google in 2013, overseeing Google’s deep engagement with some of the biggest advertisers around the world and their respective media/creative agencies. During his presentation which included emotional and inspiring videos, Pina spoke of the importance of online media channels in supporting the LGBTQI* community.
Sarah Finegan (Ireland), 2018 International MBA Student, welcomed Charles Myers, Chairman of Signum Global Advisors to the LGBT@Work Conference stage. Prior to becoming Chairman, Myers was the Vice Chairman of Evercore ISI and a member of Evercore ISI’s Executive Committee and Investment Policy Committee. In addition to his advisory career, he has had over 20 years’ experience in US electoral politics, having served as a senior member of the Finance committees of the 2008 and 2012 Obama Presidential campaigns as well as the 2016 Hilary Clinton for President campaign. Myers spoke about the importance of coming out at work and encouraged audience members to vote and elect leaders that were representative of their beliefs – leading out loud by taking a more active interest in politics.
Zayne Imam (South Africa), head of the LGBT@Work Speaker Committee and IEOut & Allies Club Coordinator, delivered an enthusiastic and heartfelt thankyou to IE University, the IEOut & Allies Club, the LGBT@Work Speakers and audience members, and took great pride in introducing the LGBT@Work Committee: Johan Turcios (USA), Sarah Finegan (Ireland), Chris Chinting Kuo (Taiwan), Jorge Hoyos (USA/Colombia), Leandro Augusto de Oliveira (Brazil), Ravinjay Kuckreja (Indonesia), Alex Luzar (USA), Cat Dawson (USA), and Samuel González Rodríguez (Spain). He concluded by congratulating and introducing Michelle “Michi” Raymond, LGBT@Work Committee Chairwoman, to the stage by saying, “all of this, everything that you see before you today…this would not have been possible if it were not for this woman, who I have the pleasure of introducing you, my friend, Michelle Raymond.”
Michelle “Michi” Raymond (USA) approached the stage by individually hugging and thanking each one of the student committee members. Her address to the audience was both heartfelt and cheeky as she explained her reasons for moving to Spain and heading IE University’s LGBTQI & Allies Club. Reminiscing about her decision to move to Spain for love, she spoke of the heartache that came when on the first day of her arrival, the relationship between her and her girlfriend abruptly came to halt. An “aww” from the audience was quickly deadpanned with, “hey, hey, don’t worry – the good news is that now I’m single,” accompanied by a grin and a wink. Raymond spoke of the importance of leading out loud and the support she received from IE University, especially from the institution’s Executive President, Santiago Iñiguez. Citing the need for action, she challenged the audience to consider when asking “Shouldn’t someone be doing this?” to instead question, “Am I that someone? Why aren’t I doing this?” She spoke proudly of IEOut & Allies Club’s rapid growth and the many events and partnerships that have been established with local organizations including: Fundación Eddy-G, REDI, Fundación Triángulo, and LesWorking, and multinational companies. Lastly, she introduced her friend and mentor, Selisse Berry, as LGBT@Work’s 2018 Keynote Speaker.
Selisse Berry is the founder of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. Since 1996, Berry has built the Global LGBT Workplace Equality movement by creating a network of multi-national companies and federal agencies to work toward LGBT education, empowerment, and visibility. When Berry founded Out & Equal, less than 4% of Fortune 500 companies had LGBT protections. Through her tireless efforts 96% of companies now protect their LGBT employees. In the past 20 years, Berry’s work has impacted more than 40 million people in over 50 countries. Berry captivated the room with her powerful story of coming out while studying for the Presbyterian ministry and California, even creating a support group called Seminary Lesbians Under Theological Stress (SLUTS). She concluded her awe-inspiring speech with a video highlighting Out & Equal Workplace Advocates’ push for LGBTQI* workplace rights, her legacy as the non-profit’s founder and former CEO, and closed with the unifying message, “When leading out loud – We are stronger together.”
Immediately following the LGBT@Work Conference, attendees were invited to join the event’s speakers and organizing committee members at the official Networking After Party on Casa América’s terrace overlooking Plaza de Cibeles. Conference attendees enjoyed a tapas-style dinner, drinks, and dancing while interactively networking with event speakers, sponsors, corporate recruiters, and partnering organizations. Business professionals from around the globe and undergraduate and masters students representative of 21 universities worldwide attended the 12th Annual LGBT@Work Conference, creating a diverse and electric atmosphere at the longest-running LGBTQI* work conference in Europe.
Silver: Amadeus, IE Foundation, Google, IE Talent & Careers, LinkedIn
Premier: RBC Wealth Management
Supporter: U.S. National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)
About IEOut & Allies Club:
IEOut & Allies Club, IE University’s student-led LGBTQI* & Allies organization, is a network that provides educational, social, and professional support to LGBTQI* students, alumni, staff, allies, and surrounding communities. IEOut & Allies Club organizes events year-round that are open to all members of the IE Community, which range from educational workshops and volunteer activities to health seminars and networking social events. For more information about IEOut & Allies Club, please visit: https://www.ielgbtatwork.com/ieout-club