First appeared on inclusivenetworks.co.uk

Should you write LGBT achievements on your CV? It seems graduates up and down the country are not getting the best advice when it comes to this question.

At a recent Student Pride event, a London Metropolitan Banking student, told us how much he wanted to get on a acclaimed Lloyds professional services graduate scheme. To make sure he nailed the application, he asked for advice from this lecturer. Part of the advice they gave him included taking out being the LGBT society president, despite the vast amount he’d achieved and the leadership skills this showed about him. “Its not relevant”, he was told.

The frustrating irony of this? Companies like EY, in the professional service industry, are desperate for LGBT graduates to join their scheme. EY have sponsored Student Pride for five years and Tom Guy the President of organisation, says this story is all to common to hear from Student Pride sponsors.

Liz Bingham (Managing Partner for People, UK & Ireland at EY and Student Pride ambassador) says: “At EY we are passionate about enabling people to come together in an environment where they feel included and respected. National Student Pride enables LGBT students to do just that”.

LGBT friendly employers who are involved with the event take part in what is now the largest LGBT student career fair at the annual event. They do so to meet LGBT graduates and get them in the workplace.

So why do careers advisers get people to play down their LGBT diversity? Perhaps its because the perception that being out in the workplace is still difficult. 62% of graduates go back into the closet after getting a job. I know I thought very carefully about coming out at my job, I wanted to be seen on my merit – not for being the only gay in the office.

Perhaps it is down to culture. Many companies shout from the rooftops about their equality and diversity policy, but the London Metropolitan student told us another of his mentors who works in investment banking said, “There is a lot of talk about diversity, but in practice, not much has changed”. It seems any business where clients are involved, that may still hold homophobic views, affect the way hiring is taken on.

James McFadzean at the London School of Economics bucks the trend by not only being out at work, but by giving positive advice about adding LGBT to your CV. Working in the careers department, he thinks, “Being completely open and honest with students, many from international backgrounds, it gives them a chance to witness a gay professional, many of whom they’ll meet in their future working and personal lives.” Because James is out, students are able to approach him for LGBT specific advice. It may be a cliche, but there is a lot to be said for ‘I can see, so I can be’.

Empowering students to be proud about being LGBT is crucial not just for the individual, but for the workplace. LGBT employees bring a vast array of diversity to the workplace and with this, fresh ideas that can revitalise the way we all work. More work needs to be done nationwide to make it clear to students and employers that being open about sexuality, is better for everyone.

Words: Jamie Wareham Presented by: Student Pride, 27th February – 1st March. Daytime festival and careers fair free, Boy Meets Girl premiere, Queer as Film and club nights and lots more. Buy your tickets here: <a “=”” href=”http://www.studentpride.co.uk/tickets” target=”_blank”>www.studentpride.co.uk/tickets