GLBT business association gets corporate supporters

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Business sophomore Ezequiel Calderon Jr. is the president of the GLBTQA Business Association at UT. The organization strives to make business environments more accepting of GLBTQA individuals by changing the stereotype that businesspeople are only heterosexual males.

Photo Credit: Amanda Martin | Daily Texan Staff

More rainbow ties have been popping up around McCombs since an organization for GLBT business students was revived last semester.

The original GLBTQA Business Student Association was founded in 2007 after a group of students in the McCombs School of Business were offered financial backing by the consulting firm Accenture, but the club died out because of a lack of interest, said president Ezequiel Calderon Jr. The club is open to students of any sexual orientation from any college at UT and currently has about 20 official members, he said.

“Our purpose is to provide GLBTQA McCombs students with business opportunities through corporate interaction and community building events like AIDS Walk Austin,” Calderon said. “It’s growing. It’s crazy how much companies want to support the organization.”

Because of a lack of GLBT business organizations in Texas schools, companies are more inclined to support GBSA, Calderon said. UT is the only school in Texas with a GLBT organization in its business school, he said.

The group recently attended a conference in Dallas called Out and Equal, where Google, IBM and Accenture expressed interest in getting involved with the group, Calderon said. Google will host a business gala for GBSA in the UTC on Nov. 15.

Current financial backers are Ernst & Young, KPMG and Accenture, he said.

“We’ve had a couple of members where their straight friends brought them to the meeting because they were afraid, they hadn’t really been out,” he said. “We’re trying to bring them in and make them aware that it’s important to embrace every dimension of diversity.”

Business freshman Andrew Curtis said GBSA gave him a niche when he started his freshman year this fall. In the largely conservative business industry, GBSA provides more representation for members of the GLBT community, Curtis said.

“Don’t be discouraged to join because you’re not gay or you’re not a business major,” he said. “If you’re an ally and an engineering major, you’re absolutely welcome. If you have any interest at all, do it. It’s a great organization.”

GBSA helps its members learn to use their identity to their advantage in the workplace so that they can be themselves, said accounting sophomore Amanda Ritter. She helped re-found the organization with Calderon.

“It’s really just about networking,” Ritter said. “Some people might perceive it as us trying to draw attention to ourselves but we really just want to stand up for ourselves. We want to be just like any other person in the workplace.”

Published on Friday, November 4, 2011 as: GLBT organization gets corporate support