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Diversity and Inclusion

What Authenticity in the Workplace Means to Five LGBTQ+ MBAs

Forté fosters a community of diverse business leaders whose personal identities and professional backgrounds strengthen our values of diversity and inclusion. We strive to build an inclusive culture where everyone is empowered to be the type of leader and role model to which they aspire.

In honor of Pride Month, I asked some of the accomplished LGBTQ+ leaders who make up our Forté community: What does authenticity in the workplace mean to you, and how do diversity and inclusion benefit the workplace? Their answers emphasize the importance and necessity of building and nurturing a corporate culture of acceptance and equality. Here is what they shared:

“I fully believe that we come up with better ideas when many people are able to combine their knowledge and experiences. Having diverse perspectives, including those who are LGBTQ+, is so important in creating well-rounded ideas. For Hasbro personally, I am so proud of the work we do to continue the conversation around representation in kids’ entertainment and toys. I would have loved to see LGBTQ+ characters in shows and toys when I was a kid, and I’m really excited that future generations will continue to get better and better experiences and representation.”
— Emily Bader, Associate Brand Manager, Hasbro

“Being able to show up as my authentic self in the workplace is incredibly important. To me, it is a non-negotiable, which I understand is a great privilege to be able to say, but that’s how important it is to me. As someone who has been out more than half of my life, not being able to be open about a critical part of my identity is, to a certain degree, unimaginable. I am very fortunate to have worked for organizations that encourage this level of authenticity, and so I have rarely if ever paused when thinking about whether to discuss this aspect of my identity.”
— Kat Greenbaum, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Airspace

“In uncertain times, diversity cannot be forgotten. It is often the smallest, simplest changes that have a lasting and invaluable impact (just share your pronouns). For years, studies have shown the business value of diversity. LGBTQ inclusivity specifically can lead the way. As with many identity groupings, we are not a monolith. We are an inherently multidimensional and multicultural group.”
— Heather Rae Martin, Senior Associate Principal, Eversana Consulting

“When I came to school, … I promised myself not to compromise who I am for my classmates, in interviews, or in my future career. I would not diminish myself or pretend to be someone I am not. The MBA was a chance for me to take a step forward in embracing my identity and saying to the world, ‘This is who I am, and you cannot take this away from me.’ My nonbinary identity is a fundamental part of who I am and how I move through the world, and it has been important to share my full self with my classmates and peers, while working to move forward in my career.”
— Kovi Shlomchik, MBA student at Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business)

“Showing up as one’s authentic self isn’t all or nothing. The degree to which I feel comfortable showing up as my authentic self depends largely on the culture that has been created at the company. Employers cannot simply tell their employees that they should feel comfortable to be authentic in the workplace and expect it to be true. Business leaders must first do the work needed to create safe, inclusive, equal workplaces in which LGBTQ+ employees can feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves.”
— Kendall Toarmina, Organizational Effectiveness Senior Consultant, Slalom

Forté is proud to celebrate Pride Month and is committed to helping everyone in the LGBTQ+ community achieve success in the business world. We especially appreciate all of the corporations and business schools that prioritize diversity and inclusion. The importance of D&I should not only be recognized during Pride Month — but every day.

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