3 Ways AIESEC Creates an Inclusive Environment for Queer Members
The feeling of belonging is probably one of the strongest we can experience as humans. Through centuries, we developed as humankind thanks to the support we received in our communities. It is essential for survival, and therefore being left out is a threat to our well-being.
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community have been facing some of the hardest challenges. Challenges like having their voices heard, their identities accepted and supported. However, as AIESEC, we strive to create a safe environment for everyone. For them to feel seen and heard, leaving no one out.
“Back in the day, one of the reasons why I wanted to join AIESEC was to find a safe place for me in university. The general public isn’t very accepting,” says one of our non-binary members from Indonesia.
Their narrative continues to explain how they feel relief knowing that there is no way for them to get discriminated against by AIESEC based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. “The only reason for exclusion would be if I presented bad behavior or persisting lack of performance,” says our member.
Another queer member shares, “AIESEC did something that was not obvious at first. It started with accepting my flaws and helping me improve. Eventually, it ended with me honestly embracing who I was. People around me always approached me from a place of curiosity rather than that of judgment.”
So how does AIESEC do it?
Encouraging core values
One of our core values as an organization is living diversity. For us, it means to accept everyone for who they are and appreciate the diversity we have in the room. Whether they come from different backgrounds, religious beliefs, nationalities, overall worldview, and in this case, gender identity or sexual orientation, all that matters to us is for our members to strive to become the best version of themselves.
This is possible only by providing them the right environment to grow, and that’s why our values are constantly reminded to our members at every major touchpoint.
Selecting the right members
Whatever gender you identify as it will not matter if you want to become an AIESEC member. However, if you disagree that everyone deserves respect and acceptance, this may give you a hard environment in the organization.
During recruitment, we assess whether the applicant has matching values with the organization. While it is okay to deviate and have your own perspective, and we appreciate people who think outside the box. And also appreciate the ones who challenge ideas and concepts. However, the extreme deviation will hinder the applicant from becoming a member of the organization.
As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” nor did AIESEC get to the point it is now in only one day. Our key to ensuring inclusivity to our members is our consistency throughout the 70+ years since our establishment. For many years, we kept reminding ourselves about our core values, as well as our vision.
There is no way to achieve peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential if we are denying the space for development to members that are the way they are without choice, or denying to support people who are part of a minority, to achieve their potential, only because of something they didn’t choose to be.
An inclusive environment isn’t something exclusive to AIESEC. You can create a world of acceptance around you as well. As per our readers and followers throughout social media, the actions you can take are as simple as speaking up for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.