The History of Start Proud

Author:

Start Proud Team

Categories:

Article

Date:

February 14, 2024

Out On Bay Street is deeply rooted in the Annual Conference which started in 2007 by 5 MBA students from various universities across Toronto as an assignment for their program. Their objective was to propose a Conference and Career Fair aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) business students across Canada that provides a space for them to connect, share and interact with the business leaders of today, and fosters their courage to act as agents of change in the organizations they will join and lead in the future.

Built upon its primary years of success and large amount of support, Out On Bay Street was registered as a non-profit organization in 2010 to further engage delegates of the Annual Conference through an expansion of programs throughout the year. Further expansion included the outreach of students and organizations in the fields of law, in 2008, and technology, in 2011; in order to bridge the gap between these professional fields. Additionally, in 2010, Out On Bay Street branded the terms queer (“Q”) and ally (“A”) as a means to acknowledge the interaction and support provided by all the communities in which it operates.

Acknowledging the need for greater LGBTQA women representation in the Canadian Business, Law & Technology landscape, Out On Bay Street started The Women’s Initiative in 2010 for the purpose of  providing resources and opportunities specifically for members of this community. Furthermore, to provide additional resources for all Out On Bay Street members, the Speaker Series was created in 2011 as a continuous platform; where important issues would be discussed in an open forum. Out On Bay Street also acknolwedged the need to  celebrate the success of leaders who have paved the way for the LGBTQA community and with that, started the Leaders to Be Proud of Awards in 2011. Through this initiative, we would highlight selected Canadian executive leaders of various backgrounds through a nomination process.

With the growth in our outreach and network after six successful years, we were confident in our approach to analyze our strategy in order to ensure that we stay true to the core objective on which Out On Bay Street was established. This involved examining our mission and branding, our approach to connecting with students and our sponsors, as well as our events and initiatives. After much thought in 2012, Out On Bay Street refined its mission statement in 2013 in order to highlight Out On Bay Street’s strong record of achievement as the primary Canadian resource for LGBTQA students looking to build a successful professional career in business, law and technology in Canada. We felt that our mission statement should reflect our strategic advantage of connecting students to Canadian organizations.

The translation of the refined mission was made evident through the new 2013 branding strategy. Each of the six triangles that make up the new logo represents a part of the LGBTQA community. The triangles collectively represent Out On Bay Street’s network. It is within this network that Out On Bay Street built the foundation as a leading organization providing opportunities and resources for professional development. The Out On Bay Street website was also further developed to improve navigation and style; but most importantly, to introduce the new Out On Bay Street portals for students, professionals and partners as a means to build the national network within the LGBTQA community

Beyond the above evolution, the Organization, with the support of its Board and Advisors then worked to refocus some of the Organization’s activities. An outcome of the strategic review included striving to make Out On Bay Street a national organization that operates throughout the calendar year which was showcased within the 2013 year-long Sponsorship Agreement. The organization would focus on these five key events and initiatives: at a local level, the newly established Monthly Networking Socials (with certain socials focused on a specific group of the LGBTQA community and Stand-Alone Recruitment Fairs; at a national level, the Annual Conference, the Leaders To Be Proud Of Awards & Awards Gala and the newly established Scholarship Awards & Awards Gala.

Out On Bay Street continues to strive to be a leader in academic, geographic and strategic diversity. With the continued effort to increase the quality and scope of its events and initiatives, Out On Bay Street ensures the advancement of the LGBTQA community.

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