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Event Spotlight: Proud to B

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

Welcome to the officials highlight page of Proud to B! Another of our exclusively virtual events, Proud to B aims to connect our LGBTQ+ and ally members with leading employers from a range of sectors - all of whom are committed to creating truly diverse and inclusive workplaces.

We recently caught up with Mark, who, for a second year running, was this year’s host! If you’re keen to discover what you can expect by attending Proud to B, Mark’s top takeaways, and tips for making the most out of your next event, keep reading…

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, my name’s Mark! I’m a Partner Success Manager at Bright Network which involves working with our employer partners and helping them recruit our brightest members.

What drew you to become event host?

Proud to B 2023 was the second time I’ve hosted the event after joining Bright Network last year. Having previously worked on LGBTQ+ inclusion in other roles, I felt like it was a really good fit. I was also keen to explore what top employers were actually doing in this space. Not only is it valuable for our members but it was also an educational piece for myself, in which I got a feel for their priorities and got to explore what it is that they’re doing to promote inclusion in the workplace. The agenda of the event also really lends itself to this focus – it’s a mix of personal experiences and a unique insight to different graduate employers and their approaches to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. You come away with a thorough understanding of their policies, initiatives and how they’re creating a space where employees can bring their authentic selves to work.

What was your favourite part about hosting?

The panel session on Authenticity at work was my favourite part of the day –it consisted of senior leaders from a range of employers including Clyde & Co, HSBC and more. Members got to hear about how they engage or lead LGBTQ+ networks within their firms, and I really enjoyed being part of this conversation.

What was your top takeaway?

There were great insights into the different kind of initiatives that employers are implementing. We know of activities that often happen during Pride Month, however I enjoyed hearing about the wider steps employers are taking all year round that leave a lasting impact. For instance, there were conversations around trans inclusion policies and the leave that is available for individuals who are in the process of transitioning. This is something that on the face of it is quite basic in essence, but the impact can be really powerful.

What is your top tip for attendees to make the most out of networking and virtual events?

Make sure you’re putting yourself out there. Although it may feel overwhelming attending an event like this, know that lots of people are in the exact same position as you and are feeling the same way. I also try and think about ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’, and the answer is almost always “probably not a lot”! You could leave the event having a valuable conversation with an employer and having met new peers.

So be open to the challenge - you don't have to be super extroverted to get involved in networking events! Plus, the Bright Network events team have lots of support you can find prior to the event – this includes things like advice on if you’re not ready to come out in a professional setting or remaining anonymous during network sessions.

My other tip would be don’t discount yourself – people sometimes feel as though they're not studying the right degree or have enough work experience to secure an internship or graduate role. However, employers look for a real range of individuals, so don’t discredit yourself from any process or role based on preconceived notions on what you think they’re looking for! An event like Proud to B is a unique opportunity to ask exactly what top firms look for in their candidates.

Why should LGBTQ+ and ally members attend Proud to B?

Proud to B allows you to hear employers be very clear and open about their commitments to LGBTQ+ inclusion, in which they follow up with real, tangible initiatives and examples of how they are making an impact to their employees. For example, during the skills session ran by SMBC in 2023, we got to hear both about LGBTQ+ individuals’ experiences and the application process – so you get a balance of upskilling and learnings on how employers are prioritising inclusive environments. Given that only 46% of LGBTQ+ students (according to Bright Network research) feel confident about securing a role after university, Proud to B poses a really valuable experience.

Anything else you’d like to add?

When it comes to attending events, do what works for you! Whether that be only utilising the chat function during network or inviting a friend to apply to attend so you can support one another on the day. We want all our members to feel comfortable and confident at our events!

Keen to join Mark at Proud to B next year? Head here to find out more.

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