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LGBTQ+ thought leadership podcast on LBSR

To coincide with Pride, LBS Faculty joined together with students to create a podcast exploring strategies to shift gear on inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community at work, and how to build truly inclusive organisations.

Listen now to this exclusive podcast featuring Dr Aneeta Rattan, LBS Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Keyvan Vakili, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, and Aharon Mohliver, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship.

In this podcast, Dr Rattan proposes some of the ways in which organisations can help employees to feel included and reach their potential. Firstly, she explains that there is a need for both allies and advocates. “Allies are people who feel strongly that members of sexual orientation minorities do not deserve and should not bear any kind of social exclusion, based on their sexual orientation or gender identity status. Advocates are people who are ready to give their time, energy, power and resources to promoting equality for members of these groups.”

Dr Rattan notes that in an ideal world, organisations would encourage those in structural positions of power to act as advocates. “Of course, a voice from anywhere is essential, positive and valued when they're speaking for equality. But when leaders model these behaviours they can signal to everyone in the organisation what is and what is not acceptable.”

Advocates in leadership positions are a rare commodity. When leaders do speak up, they have a greater opportunity to stand out. Dr Rattan says “By showing that they value people for the intellectual potential they bring, not who they love or how they live their lives, they can send a strong signal of belonging and inclusion.”

Dr Rattan busts the assumption that private lives should stay at home. It’s a deeply flawed way of thinking, she says, because it relies on the heteronormative expectations that people have. Another assumption? Saying, “We're comfortable with your identity” and leaving it there. “Companies have to act on the things they say,” notes Dr Rattan.

In her research with co-author Nalini Ambady, Dr Rattan took the #ItGetsBetter YouTube campaign videos as a window into how people express support to LGBTQ+ teenagers. They categorised the content of the 50 most viewed videos (which at the time had been viewed over 15 million times) as social connection and social change messages. Social connection messages suggested that those targeted by prejudice would find social acceptance in the future. Social change messages focused on the idea that individuals or society could change. The results were revealing: though both messages were rated as comforting. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual students found more comfort in messages that advocated social change.

Also featured is Dr Vakili, who through a study of regional rates of innovation with Laurina Zhang shows that passing liberal policies such as equal marriage increases both the rate of innovation and its quality.
“From a business point of view, what is the effect of inclusion? Does it come at a cost? Is there a benefit? This is the angle we took in our research,” he explains.

Regions that become more open and liberal increase their competitiveness in innovation and patenting. The assumption here? That inclusive policies are a moral imperative, but that they don’t really change the bottom line. The reality? Liberalisation policies increase patenting, while the anti?liberalisation policy reduces it.

Offering a different perspective is Dr Mohliver. With co-authors Donal Crilly and SungYong Chang, he finds that promoting LGBTQ+ policies in firms can backfire.

Their ongoing research reveals that as firms affiliate in support of a given social issue they can alienate some of their stakeholders. In ‘Corporate Social Counterpositioning: The Impact of Issue Salience on the Distribution of Corporate Social Responsibility Espousal’, Dr Mohliver observes liberal societies with “pockets of persistent discrimination”.

He says: “Firms feed their beliefs to their employees and these employees feed their beliefs to each other. When you have firms that benefit from discriminating, these beliefs reinforce over time.”
Listen now to discover how leaders can implement these findings and model inclusive behaviors.