CBS Love Suits Everyone – pride, research and academic citizenship
As both a study- and workplace, it’s important for Copenhagen Business School to send a loving message of valuing diversity and show willingness to walk that extra mile for an inclusive learning environment. As a university, we see it as our social responsibility to make room for difference and we’ve walked the talk since 2017, when CBS first joined the Copenhagen Pride parade. Our slogan, ‘Love Suits Everyone’ is a play on words that allows us to ‘queer’ the stereotype about everyone at CBS thinking alike and looking the same in their blue business suits. For CBS Pride, students and staff come together in all the rainbow’s colours, (re)presenting a different and counter-normative narrative of what a modern business school can be like.
Our participation in pride is inherently academic and since we cannot parade through the streets of Copenhagen this year due to COVID-19 and government restrictions we have decided to upscale our contribution to the Human Rights Programme during Copenhagen Pride Week, taking place from 17 to 21 August 2020. Among our events is a thesis saloon where CBS graduates share insights from their master projects on LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) related topics. We also have a talk with Dr Anna Einarsdóttir, University of York and Ulla Dalsgaard, Nordic Learning Partner in IBM, on the impact and outcomes of LGBTI employee networks at workplaces.
Pride is also the theme of a new research project titled ‘Beyond Pinkwash: Pride Parades and Integrative Civil Religion’. Funded by The Independent Research Fund Denmark, the project tackles the pressing issue of how political and corporate actors may tap into genuine sources of social legitimacy without damaging their authenticity. Pride parades that promote LGBTI rights represent a globally growing sociocultural force and have developed into public celebrations of values without which a democracy would not function: tolerance, inclusion, care for others – also attracting an increasing number of corporate sponsorship. For some, this is a sign of success as the backing of large employers signals mainstream public support. For others, this support is indicative of commercialisation which undermines the LGBTI movement’s political and emancipatory potential. The aim of the project is to explore and resolve these tensions through an investigation of how pride might form part of what American sociologist Robert Bellah called a ‘civil religion’, that is, a bond of allegiance based on universal human rights and solidarity among strangers.
Three members of the Diversity and Difference Platform are affiliated with the research project: Associate Professor Stefan Schwarzkopf (CBS), Professor Sine Nørholm Just (Roskilde University) and Assistant Professor Jannick Friis Christensen (CBS), who—together with Professor Sara Louise Muhr (CBS)—also serves on the Governing Board for the Copenhagen 2021 LGBTI Human Rights Conference that takes place next year as part of World Pride.