Student Club Finds Reasons to be Proud and Keep Working this Pride Month 2021
LGBT-Birds+ President Robson Correa discusses the journey of the club and what allies and the business world can do better
Forbes research showed that LGBT-friendly businesses are more profitable, but how does this translate into their work culture? It’s an issue central to the activities of Thunderbird School of Global Management’s LGBT-Birds+ student club. After almost ending its run as a student club last year, the LGBT-Birds+ are back and preparing to make waves this year with guest speakers and a prominent presence on campus. Club president Robson Correa gives insights into why keeping this club around is so important in a global business context.
Question: What are the LGBT-Birds+ up to this year?
Answer: The club was dying when I secured my position as president. It became a huge opportunity for me to start from scratch and make this club something big. ROMBA, Reaching Out MBA, is a nonprofit for supporting LGBTQ+ clubs. I attended their career fair virtually last fall and was invited to their leadership summit. Attending allowed me to see what other group leaders were doing at schools around the country. I learned different ways of recruiting and engaging students. Since implementing these practices, there have been so many more students reaching out wanting to be a part of the club. We plan to have guest speakers once a month this year.
I have been working with the club president from W. P. Carey School of Business to represent our schools at the LGBTQ+ parade, which was unfortunately canceled this year. But hopefully, through the rest of this year, we can collaborate on more events.
Q: Why is this club so important and what impact do you hope it makes on students and the community?
A: I had a partner who studied gender and he taught me how LGBTQ+ awareness needs the same attention as other under-represented groups. He left me a legacy and I want to help others see the LGBTQ+ community in this perspective as well. Thunderbird is so diverse and inclusive. It’s a great environment to create new leaders who support the LGBTQ+ community.
We want our environments to be both diverse and inclusive. There are so many cultures at Thunderbird. We want to remove barriers and biases from any viewpoint. We want to say, “we are equal to everyone else.” We want to take away the “MenBA” mentality that is prominent in today’s business culture. I hope that this club does not reach the point of almost dying out again.
I believe we can lead by example. We are a club that celebrates life, community, happiness, respect, and each one of us commits to what the school also makes a change in the world as global leaders. We want to emphasize that difference is good. Different ways of thinking bring creativity and innovation and so many other things. We want to contribute to personal and professional growth. We don't care if people fit in these five or six letters. If we can make a difference in someone’s professional life, whether they are in the letters LGBTQ+ or an ally, we want to do that.
Phoenix Rising FC’s Pride Night Event
Q: What can allis be working on?
A: To really make a difference in the way we live, people need to understand the struggles and issues the community is still trying to overcome. Through education, allies can gain a better understanding of what people in the community go through, and do this year-round. Attend an event put on by the LGBT-Birds+. Talk to people in the community. Listen without prejudice. And do it year-round.
Q: What can businesses do to be more inclusive?
A: At our leadership summit, we learned that only two cases from Harvard Business Review touch on LGBTQ+ issues. It would be so helpful if these future leaders could have an understanding of these issues upon graduation. We had a discussion recently in class about how during this month, companies are “rainbow washing,” but in reality, they need to be practicing what they preach and adopt these values in their company, not just ticking boxes to fill a quota.
A couple of years ago, I would never have thought I would write in my CV that I am the president of the LGBTQ+ club, but now I am proud of it. I have many credentials to be employed, not because I am black, Latino, and gay.
Fans at the FC’s Pride night
Q: What is something businesses are doing well, or that gives you hope in the business world?
A: It makes me excited to see C-suite executives who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. There aren’t many, but the Land-O-Lakes CEO, Beth Ford, is both a female and gay. She is the only openly gay female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. It gives me hope to see another gay CEO in the business world, paving the way for the rest of us.
Written by Christina Furst, Thunderbird Branding & Communications Coordinator
Photos credit: Robson Correa