As Pride Month 2021 draws to a close, three LGBTIQ+ scholarship students from AGSM's MBA Full-Time program discuss workplace inclusivity, their experience of the LGBTIQ+ community and which parts of their MBA they're most looking forward to.

As told to AGSM @ UNSW Business School

AGSM @ UNSW Business School this year awarded three Scholarships to LGBTIQ+ students in the 2022 MBA Full-Time cohort. Coming from India, Chile and Sydney, Reno Leon, Elizabeth Paya and Emily Scott all arrive at AGSM with diverse experiences of belonging to the LGBTIQ+ community. 

To celebrate their achievements, the three students were asked about their experience of being part of the LGBTIQ+ community, why promoting LGBTIQ+ inclusion in workplaces is important and what they are most looking forward to during their MBA at AGSM.

Today, we speak to Elizabeth Paya.

Leon and Paya are both recipients of the AGSM Leadership Excellence Scholarship – LGBTI Leadership Award, while Scott is the recipient of The Luminis AGSM Wharton Business Innovation Scholarship and is a member of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Read Reno Leon's story here, and Emily Scott's story here.

Elizabeth Paya: AGSM Leadership Excellence Scholarship (LGBTI Leadership Award)
Pronouns: She/Her
Hometown: Santiago, Chile
Previous role title and employer: Senior associate tax consultant at Cariola, Diez, Perez-Cotapos

What are you most looking forward to during your MBA at AGSM? 

I am looking forward to meeting and connecting with the Full Time, Part Time, and MBAX cohort, learning from their diverse professional and personal experiences, and being part of the overall AGSM community. I am also looking forward to learning about different areas of business that complement my legal and tax knowledge and exploring new possible paths. 

I would like to contribute with my professional and personal background, particularly related to the legal and cultural experience as a Latin American tax lawyer and a member of the LGBTIQ+ community.

What is your experience of being part of the LGBTIQ+ community and how has this changed over time? 

My experience has evolved over the years, particularly with my family. Coming out to my parents while I was still in high school wasn't easy, particularly coming from a Catholic family and education. I lived a compartmentalized life for many years until they finally fully accepted me in my mid-twenties. They even attended my wedding last year which made me incredibly happy!

With the LGBTIQ+ community in Chile, I was lucky to make connections early in my adolescence. This and my closest friends provided me with a very good support network. However, this was not the most common reality, as I learned during my undergraduate studies. Many LGBTIQ+ people, especially women, struggled to make connections and build support networks, leaving them feeling quite isolated. 

I like to think that this reality is changing as younger generations are transforming the Chilean perception of the LGBTIQ+ community and paving the way for a much more inclusive society. 

Why do you think promoting LGBITQ+ inclusion in workplaces and communities is important?

I believe that it is incredibly relevant to provide a safe space for people from the LGBTIQ+ community to develop themselves. Not doing so might force people to live a double life and limit themselves in how they interact with others. This would not only provide a very poor and sad experience for the person but would also prevent the co-workers from engaging in meaningful relationships with them. In this line, I think that is relevant to work in both, the culture at the workplace and in specific procedures in case discrimination occurs.

Curious to find out more? Read Reno Leon's story here, and Emily Scott's story here.

If you would like to know more about The AGSM Leadership Excellence Scholarship – LGBTI Leadership Award, as well as other AGSM Full-Time MBA Scholarships, please visit the AGSM scholarships page.