The world needs more color: Why Pride Month never ends at Oxford Saïd

It’s Pride Month 2022! Celebrate with us and Oxford Saïd as we speak to Alejandro Arroyo-Yamin, Oxford MBA student and Co-Chair of Pride@SBS, a student-run club that creates an inclusive LGBTQ+ community at the business school.

In short

Pride at Oxford Saïd: Community, representation & careers

The Pride@SBS Club at Saïd Business School supports and empowers the LGBTQ+ community at the school, with membership open to all LGBTQ+ students, alumni, and allies. Members of the Pride@SBS Club also have access to the Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society, a student-run society with over 3,000 members that organizes multiple social events and offers welfare services.

“The main [purpose of the Pride@SBS Club], in my opinion, is to create a community and to make sure that everyone feels welcomed here at the business school,” Alejandro explains. “I think, so far, we’ve been very successful at it. The Pride Club has truly become my family.” (00:42)

Other important focus areas of Pride@SBS are representation and careers. When it comes to representation, Alejandro tells us, “We really try and champion that LGBTQ+ voices are heard within the business community and within [academia]. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’ve been working together with the university and with the business school.” (01:24)

In terms of careers, Pride@SBS supports club members in finding inclusive opportunities. As Alejandro puts it, “[We] really create a support network as we move on to the next stage of our lives.” (02:15)

While community, representation, and careers are the core activities of the Pride@SBS Club, Alejandro adds, “We do a really good job in linking not just with the wider university – because the University of Oxford has an incredible LGBTQ+ network and a very active society – but also with other business schools within the UK and in Europe.” (02:27)

Why inclusion matters

The LGBTQ+ community continues to face discrimination in business and beyond. In the US, 4 in 5 LGBTQ+ people say they have been personally discriminated against due to their sexual orientation. In the UK, research has shown that LGBTQ+ students experience high levels of discrimination, as well as mental and physical health problems.

For Alejandro, building inclusion is key. “We had a class in the MBA [program] and we talked about the importance of exposure,” he says. “Having those voices present in the room is really important because it creates an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing not just who they are, but also their points of view [and] their attitudes.” (04:40)

He adds, “In the world today, this [means] listening to every single point of view. Otherwise, [companies] are not going to be able to tackle the diversity that we have in our world.” (05:26)

Indeed, research shows that diverse companies are more likely to financially outperform less diverse companies, building a strong business case for diversity & inclusion in business.

Pride Month at Oxford Saïd: Bringing color to the community

Pride@SBS has been celebrating Pride since February (LGBT History Month in the UK), with numerous social events, career panels, and other celebrations.

While the state of LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion in the world can seem helpless – in the US alone, 2021 was declared a record-breaking year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation – Alejandro is grateful and proud to be part of an “incredibly friendly community” at Oxford. He says, “There’s an incredible push to celebrate, to protect, [and] to explain and inform about the LGBTQ+ community and [its] history. At least to me, it has been a very important factor [in] why I’ve been so happy this year…It’s just really lovely to be living in a town where you can be who you are and celebrate it and everybody’s there to give you hand.” (09:38)

However, the fight for equality continues. “Pride Month is just a reminder that there’s been a lot of great work done, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Alejandro says. “Pride Month never ends. The fight for equality is still there.” (06:21)

He concludes, “There’s representation [and] equality but at the same time, it’s just a celebration of the diversity [of] points of view that exist in our world and how they enrich the community overall – and not just the business community, but also the overall community. There’s a reason why the queer community is associated with colors. [We] bring a very colorful attitude and energy to life, and honestly in the world today, we do need a lot of color. We need a lot of energy. We need a lot of vibrance, and I think Pride is a great opportunity to get into that mood and realize that there [are] struggles, but there’s also happiness and hope and always a path forward.” (06:50)

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