This year’s ROMBA Conference took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 4-6. For two and half days, more than 1,600 LGBTQ MBAs and alumni gathered from around the world to network, learn, and improve their skills. All this to emerge stronger and more confident in the business world. Along with that, more than 95 corporate partners joined the conference to show support for the LGBTQ community and to recruit top level talent. The content incorporated a range of industries and roles with the goal of educating and inspiring attendees to use their business acumen and identities to solve for issues within the community.
Friday’s Leadership Lunch featured four inspiring LGBTQ leaders: Kate Kendall (CEO of National Center for Lesbian Rights), Polly Foss (General Manager of 3M Food Safety), Rick Gomez (Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer of Target), and Beth Ford (President & CEO of Land O’ Lakes). They spoke about what progress looks like in LGBTQ policies in the current political climate, key moments where their organizations demonstrated equality and its effect on the economy, and how their LGBTQ identity plays into their roles as leaders at their company. This included some great insights into how being LGBTQ has increased their attention to diversity and inclusion within the workplace and the resulting positive effects that have come out of creating diverse workforces.
Another highlight was George Takei, the keynote speaker at Saturday’s Marquee Dinner. His powerful speech began with the story of his family’s struggling time in a Japanese interment camp and the resilience he and many other children achieved despite living in times of fear, rhetoric, and warfare. His tales of immigration struggles were a timely reminder of current policies in the US and the need for immigration reform. Leading into his teenage years George discussed the feeling of being “other” because of his sexual identity and how it took many years for him to be comfortable with himself. He publicly came out in 2005 at the age of 68, despite the open secret-ness of his identity during his run on the television show Star Trek. His parting words were a poignant quote from Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Reaching Out is a non-profit organization with over a dozen unique programs dedicated to educating, inspiring, and connecting the LGBTQ MBA community to impact change in the workplace and create the next generation of out leaders. Our next ROMBA conference will take place in Atlanta from October 10-12, 2019.