“When we started at CJBS in September 2018 we identified a need to pull together some disparate strands of LGBTQ+ activity across the wider Business School. So, we formed [email protected] Judge, which was officially launched at the start of 2019,” explains alumnus Sam Chong.
“We had also identified a gap in the market for conversations around the LGBTQ+ community and what it means in business,” Sam continued. “The Business School was enormously supportive of our initiatives at the time”.
“We reached out to several businesses for support and sponsorship, which also gave our team the opportunity to practice our negotiation skills.
“We wanted to create [email protected] Judge as a community in which a predominantly international student body at CJBS could join and feel at home.”
Charles Su, MBA alumnus from Class of 2018, says, “We were very pleased to secure sponsorship for our launch event in January 2019 from Boston Consulting Group. It enabled us to grow the scope of the launch event enormously, reaching more of the wider Cambridge community”.
[email protected] Judge also reached out to other leaders and companies which supported a wider events programme after the initial launch.
Sam says, “One of the highlights for me was an audience with invited speaker Martin Stead, CEO of Nutmeg. For me, professionally, it was important because we were able to intimately speak to a very successful CEO from one of the largest European wealth management platforms”.
Martin Stead shared his insights on how a business can take steps to foster an inclusive company culture for both its customers, as well as its employees.
“For us, organising Pride events and inviting a range of high-level speakers was a way to expand our network, create role models and meet people across the wider UK-based diversity sector.”
Leading the mission of the group further in 2020 were MBA Class of 2019 students Simon Schwartz and Pankaj Nanda.
Simon, the Cambridge MBA LGBTQ+ scholar for Class of 2019/20, explains, “Pankaj and I, as Co-chairs, were keen to stay true to the original mission of [email protected] We wanted to ensure that we had people involved that were really aligned with our values of diversity and inclusion.”
Simon continues, “We wanted to explore what the words meant beyond being popular buzz words at the time.
“We ran a series called ‘Authenticity at Work,’ including an event which welcomed the head of The Points Guy UK, Christian Kramer. Not only is The Points Guy a huge brand in the US but is rapidly growing in the UK. It was a great opportunity to learn about Christian’s experience as an LGBTQ+ business leader and provide a forum for discussing identity in the workplace.
“Kramer is also a University of Cambridge alumnus. It was great, through these events, to foster connections with the CJBS and Cambridge University alumni, who were so responsive to our requests.
“These professionally focused events are a great way to explore how your personal and professional life are often inextricably linked and, of course, they are really fun as well.”
Pankaj expands, “We also wanted to show and promote inclusivity across the Business School as a whole. Last year we ran events to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK. This coincided with Valentine’s Day, so we shared the message of love across the week, inviting CJBS students to write on message boards and share on their social media using the hashtag – #LoveisforEveryone and #CJBSPride.
“We gave out stickers and badges to students, faculty and staff. This helped create a safe space for the entire community and share our support for the wider issues of diversity and inclusivity. The flags displayed throughout the building really illustrated this message for visitors and the wider University community.”
Sharing the Cambridge College experience
Simon says, “One of the nice things about the Cambridge MBA programme, is that it is nestled within the wider University of Cambridge. So as part of your experience at Cambridge, you are a member of one of the 31 Cambridge Colleges”.
“Each Cambridge College has its own LGBTQ+ community who also run their own events and activities in College. Cambridge is a very inclusive place at all levels.”
Pankaj adds, “Some of the Colleges ran movie screenings exploring the meaning of diversity and inclusion”.
Simon continues, “Trinity College ran an LGBTQ+ formal dinner. As one of the oldest colleges in Cambridge, it was nice for them to open their doors and share their formal halls for an event of this type. You also get to formally celebrate something that is always evolving – such as LGBTQ+ rights”.
A broad future for diversity at Cambridge Judge
Simon explains, “From a career perspective, Cambridge Judge hosted several different company recruitment events last year, such as McKinsey, BCG and Google, all of whom support LGBTQ+ initiatives and talent recruitment programmes”.
“There are definitely different opportunities to make yourself known to these companies and to build that relationship, as well as working with their diversity recruiting teams.”
Charles Su says, “As the job market is so continually competitive and whether you access the LGBTQ+ resources that companies offer in recruitment or not, is up to you. That’s one of those things that Cambridge does really emphasise – that you should really expand your network and leverage as many different networks as you can”.
Pankaj continues, “At the start of our MBA year we ran a session where we shared our LGBTQ+ experiences. So, for me coming from India, where legislation has been slower to respond to the LGBTQ+ community, I got the opportunity to share this with my class and then to discuss how others could contribute to and support the community more”.
Simon adds, “One of the nice things about studying for an MBA in a very international setting is that you meet people with diverse views. In my experience, people were open to hearing my ‘Coming out’ story”.
“At our [email protected] launch event I shared my story to an audience of nearly 100 people, and I wasn’t expecting to share my story with so many – I was just blown away by that”.
Simon concludes, “Be yourself, because every single person on the MBA programme is really different – but we all share a common set of values”.
A continuing culture of openness
The new MBA Class of 2020 are running a student-led recruitment event focusing on diversity and inclusion in its broadest sense. The first event held in November 2020, entitled ‘Diversity in the Workplace’, was the result of a coalition between the [email protected], together with the Wo+men’s Leadership Special Interest Group (SIG) and the Veterans @CJBS Initiative. Also featuring first-generation students, the ‘Diversity in the Workplace’ event launched an event series that will take place across the coming MBA year.
MBA Admissions Co-ordinator, Emily Brierley explains about the LGBTQ+ scholarship and the partnership with ROMBA, “CJBS is proud to be a ROMBA fellowship school and our commitment to inclusion and diversity begins at the beginning of your MBA journey. As well as being awarded a scholarship of £25,000, successful candidates will become a ROMBA fellow which comes with lots of fantastic benefits including, access to ROMBA’s leadership programme; attendance at the cohort’s annual retreat; and connection to the ROMBA network of over 10,000 peers, alumni, and professionals”.
For the first time the LGBTQ+ scholar, now the ROMBA LGBTQ+ Scholarship, recipient has been awarded to a woman, Claudia Chau.
“I am appreciative of the fact that CJBS is a firm believer in diversity and inclusion. I hope to continue the mission of [email protected] by creating a long-term plan and gathering those under-represented groups to support diversity and inclusion in every way. With the Business School’s support, I find this an excellent and exciting opportunity to engage with corporations and partners, as we together promote the benefits of cultivating a diverse and inclusive work culture.”
This content was recorded during a LGBTQ webinar hosted by our MBA Admissions team in July 2020, with our CJBS alumni and current students at the time from MBA Class of 2019.