The Currency of Authenticity: Lanaya Irvin and Michael Lopez at OutNEXT 2018 Global Summit

More than 200 emerging LGBT+ business leaders gathered in July 2018 at Barclays’ headquarters in New York for the 5th annual OutNEXT Global Summit. OutNEXT is the only global talent accelerator specifically targeted to LGBT+ business leaders.

Participants in the initiative are hand-selected by their firms as high-potential and high-performing, and receive best-in-class training content by PwC (also a Global Sponsor of OutNEXT).

In a discussion focused on how LGBT+ leaders can best drive their careers and their commitments to equality forward simultaneously, Michael Lopez, Head of Inclusion & Diversity and HR Director, Diageo, noted:

“I constantly have to think about how to balance my engagement and activism with my day job. As I grappled with the question of how to mesh the two together early in my career, I realized that there was an opportunity within my corporation to engage in the purpose-driven work that I wanted to be part of. Sometimes timing is everything, and I certainly was lucky with regard to timing. In 2008, Obama’s election and the ascendant Democratic congressional majority created a special moment, a social wave building for LGBT+ equality and marriage rights. There was political favor and corporate favor to be found by being bold on marriage equality, and I found myself in a position at my firm to push for us to engage. I put together a proposal for my boss and we went from there.”

“For me, engaging my activism and bringing purpose to my day job wasn’t a choice. I subscribe to the idea that we cannot compartmentalize our personal and professional ambitions, at least not for long. I don’t subscribe to the idea that you hang your personal life at the door when you come to work. You need to be your authentic self.”

Lanaya Irvin, Executive Director, Global Equities, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said:

“Once you have some currency within your organization, based on success building your business or leading in your Employee Resource Group, what do you do with it? My preferred mode of operation is to pay it forward. I like to do good with the currency that I’ve built up. I like to collaborate, to build something. Pool together your credibility and use that to drive more meaningful change, collectively. Ultimately, you can cash it in, ask for something specific. Maybe it’s a career shift or an advancement opportunity. Maybe it’s just sponsorship of one of your ideas. But, you can leverage that currency over and over, as long as you continue to build it. If you’re leading authentically within your firm, within the community, you’re going to be doing things that you care about, and the building and leveraging of currency will happen organically, allowing you to bring yourself to any conversation or space in an authentic way.”



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