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Rainbows and tears of joy at Queer Student Awards ceremony

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 14 Jul 2021

ICAEW celebrated queer talent by attending the first awards ceremony for the Queer Student Awards.

Host Ben Pechey (they/them) guided guests through the virtual event’s nine award categories and invited category sponsors and winners to share their LGBTQ+ stories. The highlights of the evening included live music by queer musician Tom Aspaul (he/him), colourful outfits, and tears of joy from the category winners.

After nominations had closed at the end of May, a panel of student recruitment experts, queer influencers and representatives from education providers were tasked with selecting the winners. ICAEW judge Sarah Hobbs (they/them), Senior Marketing Executive for Student Recruitment, and member of ICAEW’s LGBTQ+ staff network, spent hours reading through the many stories.

Hobbs commented: “It was amazing to see all the nominations coming through, and to read about the amazing work being done across the student community for LGBTQ+ people and the issues they face. It was extremely inspiring and humbling to be asked to represent ICAEW at the inaugural Queer Student Awards.”

During the Awards ceremony, Hobbs announced the winners of the category sponsored by ICAEW: “Role Model of the Year”. ICAEW sponsored this category in recognition of the importance that role models play in young people’s careers. Diversity & Inclusion Manager for Global Student Recruitment Dr Antonia Sudkaemper (she/her) said: “As the saying goes – if you can see it, you can be it. We are hoping that one day all our LGBTQ+ students feel safe being out in the workplace, and we are so glad that we have the opportunity to share the stories of LGBTQ+ role models. Sponsoring the awards is one of the many ways ICAEW is working towards an inclusive accountancy profession.”

Congratulations to our two inspirational category winners Niamh Brownhill (she/her), Journalism Student from Sheffield College, and Susan Docherty (she/her), Student President at Glasgow Caledonian University. Brownhill impressed the judges by using her personal experience and trauma to create a platform that supports others. Similarly impressive, Docherty convinced the judges by leading on the ‘We stand together’ campaign, which focuses on intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ community.

Both winners were visibly moved when Sarah announced their names. Docherty commented: “Winning the very first Role Model of the Year award means so much as The Queer Student Awards promote the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within the university. Embedding inclusion through education, visibility and talking about role model experiences takes us a step closer to a world where diversity is embraced, and everyone has the tools available to thrive.”

The Queer Student Awards are a new annual celebration recognising talented LGBTQ+ students, and allies, who are proudly leading in their lives and the communities around them. The awards provide a space to show commitment towards positively addressing the adversity that queer youths experience every day.

Focusing on the challenges of navigating career options as a queer individual, the initiative has been particularly interesting to education providers and employers. Indeed, the awards have acted as a platform to showcase the work being done to create inclusive, and safe spaces for young LGBTQ+ people that support them in their transition into the workplace.

Steve Keith (he/him), Founder of the Queer Student Awards, commented: “The Queer Student Awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise the great work already being done to support young LGBTQ+ people and to celebrate the stories that lie behind the rainbow as a first step towards annual representation and engagement with them.”

To find out more and see a list of all category winners, visit the Queer Student Awards website.

For tailored resources and best practice guidance for individuals and organisations to help you to educate, support and raise awareness on D&I topics, join the ICAEW Diversity & Inclusion Community.

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