Ivan Kovynyov

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This year sees the 50th anniversary of the very first Pride March in the UK in 1972 and this LGBT+ month the focus is on The Arc Is Long’, highlighting the continuous journey towards full equality. We spoke to members of our alumni community who told us why it is still so important to champion LGBT+ rights and the role that organisations can play in supporting and educating their staff.

The LGBTQ+ and Allies Business Club

Ivan Kovynyov (Weekend MBA 2020) founded, and was President of, the LGBTQ+ and Allies Business Club at Imperial College Business School back in 2018. The club, which has continued to grow from strength to strength, provides a platform connecting students and alumni with companies and organisations hiring in a more inclusive manner.

“My aim in creating the club was to promote the interests of students who identify as LGBTQ+ and Allies, to help companies across the industries recruit and retain more inclusively, to encourage the self-identification of LGBTQ+ colleagues and increase LGBTQ+ visibility among senior executives and at a board level.”

How can organisations be more inclusive

Now the Practice Lead in Tech Advantage Consulting & Advisory at Zühlke Group, Ivan shares his thoughts on how organisations can support their LGBTQ+ staff and create an inclusive atmosphere:

“Many businesses have already undertaken significant steps towards a more inclusive workplace by ensuring equal promotion chances, tackling homophobic bullying and supporting the coming-out process in a workplace. As well as adopting practices to attract and retain LGBTQ+ talent.

Being part of the LGBTQ+ community has elevated my self-esteem and gave me strength in my professional and private live.

“However, there is still a large number of practical issues to be solved: offering assistance and parental leave for both partners, including bereavement leave and transgender medical coverage, installing gender-neutral toilets and others. Addressing the implicit bias towards the LGBTQ+ people should be one of the top priorities across the businesses.” 

Alumnus Ivan Kovynyov (Weekend MBA 2020) in a work meeting

“The societal developments of the recent decades have set the foundations for an inclusive future. It is crucial to keep this momentum and secure the achievements of the recent past. For this reason being supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and colleagues is more important than ever."

Moving forward

Looking back, Ivan reflects that he was not as confident as he is now in talking about his personal life and how it crossed over into the workplace:

“Founding the Imperial LGBTQ+ and Allies Business Club back in 2018 has been part of my professional coming-out. It is so nice to see how the club has developed over the last years and the many things it has done to support a more inclusive workplace. However, back in 2018, it was very challenging for me to stand up and talk about my identity to the broader public. Luckily, so many people have encouraged me and helped me my along the way. From many conversations with my supporters, I have learned that you should never let fear, insecurity and doubt prevent you from pursuing your dreams and following your agenda.

“This has been a big takeaway for me. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community has elevated my self-esteem and gave me strength in my professional and private live.” 

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