When I first heard the idea for the LGBT Leaders conference, I was stunned by the potential and that no such conference had been held in Britain before.
Making that idea into a reality at our inaugural conference this February was staggering — not simply because of the level of organisation involved, but also because of the responses we received from students and from many of the incredibly accomplished LGBTQ figures we contacted to speak.
As a bisexual woman, I am very aware that many LGBTQ spaces are often dominated by white cis gay men. Confirming speakers like Lady Phyll Opoki-Gyimah of UK Black Pride, Natasha Wallis from RBS, and Isabella Segal, a partner of NLP, was intensely exciting. As Leanne Pittsford, founder of Lesbians Who Tech says — “you can’t be what you can’t see”. Seeing such successful queer women was inspirational, and definitely broadened the horizon of possibilities for myself and for many of the other attendees of the conference.
I was lucky enough to host the ‘Women in Business’ panel in February. Emma Woollcott, a litigator at Mishgon Private, discussed the obstacles that queer women trying to build families face in the workplace with Natalie Gamble, the founder of specialist family law firm Natalie Gamble Associates. Siobhan Martin spoke about her work as the UK HR Director of Mercer, debating the reasons for low women’s attendance at LGBTQ events with Margot Slattery, the managing director of Sodexo Ireland. After an interesting conversation about the duty of women to help other women and the community which is built from that, there was a seemingly unending stream of questions both from students and other speakers who had chosen to attend the rest of the conference.
It was fascinating to hear about the different challenges faced by women in different industries, and I’m happy to confirm that the ‘Women in Business’ panel will be repeated in our November conference.
One of my aims after the inaugural conference was to increase bisexual representation. Confirming our ‘Bisexuality’ panel was a great step. I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve confirmed Dr Meg Barker, the author of Rewriting the Rules, and Marcus Morgan, the leader of The Bisexual Index to speak on biphobia and bi-visibility, to engage in discussion with our attendees, be they bisexual or otherwise.
LGBT Leaders has changed the way I think about my future career, and gives attendees insights into the professional world that simply aren’t available elsewhere. The realm of possibilities is wider than ever before for the LGBTQ community in the corporate world, and whilst there’s still work to do, it’s been very exciting to be part of the movement forward.
We’ll be announcing more speakers as the conferences approaches, so do follow us on twitter @LGBTLeaders and like our Facebook page! Applications are open until October 14th, and do get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions for us.