Business Education Is Integral To Securing Better LGBT+ Representation In Business – Vitor Kawamura & Leandro Lanzoni
To mark PRIDE month, we’re sharing the stories of inspirational business school students and alumni around the world who are using their business school experiences to make the world a more inclusive, place.
Vitor Kawamura is a Managing Partner at WP Capital. and Leandro Lanzoni is a Global Marketing Manager at Gympass. Vitor and Leandro are married and currently studying on the Postgraduate programme in International Business, at Porto Business School.
Here, they share their individual and joint experiences of crafting their careers, their decision to travel to Portugal for their studies and why they believe business education should be an integral part of securing better LGBT+ representation in the business world.
How did your experiences as an LGBTQ+ individual influence your decision to pursue a business education and career?
As LGBTQ+ individuals, our experiences have played a significant role in shaping our decision to pursue a business education and career. We believe that representation matters, and we wanted to contribute to the advancement of LGBTQ+ individuals in the business world. By pursuing a business education, we aimed to challenge stereotypes, break barriers, and foster inclusivity within the corporate sector.
We chose Portugal and Porto Business School for several reasons. Portugal has a reputation for being inclusive and accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals, which was important to us. Additionally, Porto Business School is highly regarded for its academic programs, faculty, and commitment to diversity.
How has been your experience during your time in Porto Business School? And/or in your career? How did you navigate them?
Our experience at Porto Business School has been overwhelmingly positive. We have been fortunate to work with organisations that prioritise diversity and provide a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+.
How have you seen attitudes and inclusivity towards LGBTQ+ individuals evolve within the business sector since you started your career?
Since the beginning of our careers, we have observed a significant evolution in attitudes and inclusivity towards LGBTQ+ individuals within the business. Initially, we faced challenges related to our sexual orientation and felt the need to hide our identities in previous jobs. In recent years, we have witnessed a positive transformation.
A lot of companies now prioritise diversity and inclusion, creating supportive environments where LGBTQ+ individuals can thrive. My [Leandro Lanzoni] current experience at Gympass, a tech company based in New York and with an office in Portugal, exemplifies this positive shift. Gympass have inclusive policies, affinity groups, and a culture that values diversity and mitigates biases. This industry-wide change reflects a growing commitment to LGBTQ+ rights and equal opportunities. While progress continues to be made, the business sector is moving towards a more inclusive future, benefiting both LGBTQ+ professionals and companies themselves.
In today’s world, companies striving for growth and success recognise the importance of embracing and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. This vibrant community is not only significant in terms of its numbers but also its economic power. Employing LGBTQIA+ individuals is no longer just a matter of inclusivity and social responsibility; it has become a strategic imperative.
Companies that fail to respect and incentivise LGBTQIA+ employees run the risk of losing potential business opportunities. By creating inclusive and supportive environments, organisations can tap into the diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences that the LGBTQIA+ community brings to the table. Embracing diversity leads to innovation, creativity, and a broader customer reach.
[Vitor Kawamura] As a business owner of a small company, I deeply embrace the cause (30% of my collaborators are LGBTQIA+) by giving an open environment to diversity.
What advice would you give to other LGBTQ+ individuals who are considering pursuing a business education or starting a career in the business sector?
To other LGBTQ+ individuals considering a business education or career in the business sector, we would offer the following advice:
- Be proud of your identity and embrace your unique perspectives and experiences. Your diversity should be a valuable asset in the business world
- Seek out educational institutions and companies that prioritise diversity and inclusion. Research their policies and commitment
- Don’t accept being the only one: Once you have achieved a good position within a company, it is crucial not to settle for being the only LGBTQ+ individual. Instead, actively encourage and strive to create opportunities within the company to include more members of the LGBTQ+ community