The founder of LGBT Leaders, Cai Wilshaw, wrote this piece on our inaugural conference in February and the plans for the next one. This article was first published here.
Last February, more than 130 students came to the Clifford Chance offices in Canary Wharf for the inaugural LGBT Leaders Conference – an exciting day of networking, panel discussions and inspirational speakers.
From a keynote discussion between Evan Davis and Lord John Browne to interactive sessions with law and professional services firms. the event was an opportunity to hear from LGBTQ leaders involved in activism, politics and the creative industries, alongside those from the corporate world.
We are now inviting applications for the next LGBT Leaders Conference on the 14th of November.
Even nowadays, too many LGBTQ students go back into the closet when entering the workplace. In fact, 34% of LGBTQ employees choose to keep their sexuality a secret at work for fear of being overlooked or denied promotions. More can always be done to ensure that LGBTQ students and employees feel comfortable, especially those who also identify as members of other marginalised communities – trans people, bisexuals, women, as well as people of colour.
The LGBT Leaders Conference is our contribution to this challenge, as we believe the best way to help people be happily ‘out’ at work is to expose them to the experiences of those who have gone before them.
Whatever your interests the LGBT Leaders Conference has something for you.
Aspiring lawyers will have the incredible chance to meet our law sponsors: Clifford Chance, Freshfields and King & Wood Mallesons. Our interactive law sessions, designed for those pursuing vacation schemes and training contracts, will be an opportunity to familiarise yourself with the legal industry and some of the best firms for Diversity and Inclusion.
For those students with a knack for finance, our returning sponsors Macquarie, as well as new sponsors Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, will provide an unparalleled insight into the financial services industry. With many of you applying for spring weeks, summer internships and graduate jobs, you will have the opportunity to gain a much deeper understanding of the application process throughout the day at the LGBT Leaders Conference, as well as by attending our Finance discussion panel.
The creative industries will also be amply represented, with our Media & PR panel returning after its success in the February conference, along with our exciting new Media Partnership with PinkNews. Meanwhile, those interested in education will have the opportunity to hear from Educate & Celebrate founder Elly Barnes, as well as TeachFirst, who are attending for the first time this year.
However, LGBT Leaders isn’t all about building your career — it is also about having meaningful and often difficult political discussions around the issues faced by the LGBTQ community. Our trans panel this year will hear from trans businesspeople and politicians, open to both trans attendees and allies seeking to better understand the unique issues faced in the workplace by trans people.
But aside from these panel sessions, I strongly feel that the most important thing about LGBT Leaders is the network that comes with it.
The conference is an invaluable chance to meet people like you from all across the country, and to make friendships that will last much longer than one weekend. We want everyone to have the opportunity to take part, which is why we are also offering generous travel bursaries to ensure nobody need be out of pocket as a result of attending the event.
Applications will be open from the 14th of September to the 14th of October and keep a look out for speaker announcements in the coming weeks.
More importantly: you should definitely consider applying!
PinkNews is a media partner of LGBT Leaders