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We need to increase LGBT representation in business & leadership

Brace yourself. According to Business Insider, the average person will spend 90,000 hours of their life in the workplace.

That is an awful lot of time, particularly if something integral to you is considered taboo.

The LGBT movement has made a lot of progress in recent years and is gaining acceptance. Equal marriage rights have swept across Europe, most recently with the passing of a historic bill in Germany. However, in the office, LGBT progress is lagging behind. For example, as many as 62 per cent of Generation Y LGBT graduates went back into the closet when they started their first job.

So, why is this, and why should we care?

The LGBT community has historically been underrepresented in business, creating a challenging environment for authenticity. Across nations, ages and hierarchies, LGBT professionals lack aspirational role models, much like in sport. We need to build stronger supporting networks to bring these leaders forward. After all, it’s good for both people and business.

Research by the Williams Institute has shown that an LGBT-supportive environment improves health outcomes and satisfaction in the workplace. Furthermore, businesses can expect dramatic improvements in job retention and commitment from open LGBT employees. According to the Financial Times, those closeted in the workplace are 70 per cent more likely to leave the company within the first three years.

Companies are beginning to recognise this, and every year diversity becomes more ubiquitous in business. However, we need to do better – we need a catalyst to increase LGBT representation in business and leadership across the world.

This is why the RAHM network is valuable.

“Rahm” means as ‘‘creme’’, the ‘‘best of the best’’ in German. It is founded on an uncompromising mission to bring through a new generation of LGBT leaders. This was spectacularly put into action on 21 July at Google HQ Berlin, with the launch of the world’s first LGBT leadership contest.

During the RAHM event, 90 LGBT finalists completed a series of cooperative challenges aimed at strengthening and supporting leadership ability. Overseen by 25 top executives and sponsor partners, including SAP and McKinsey, the contest has opened up new space for LGBT professionalism.

With outstanding ideas and charisma, Lindsay Krakauer, head of SAP process excellence was selected as the outright winner. She stands at the vanguard of a new professional platform that aims to serve an inclusive and open workplace in the future.

The RAHM network is the newest branch of the Uhlala organisation, who have been supporting and connecting LGBT people in their careers since 2009. In an unyielding quest to strengthen the visibility of LGBT leaders, the next RAHM contest will be staged on the doorstep of City AM readers in the UK.

You can find out more and help tackle the taboo at www.rahm.ceo

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