Michelle Raymond: Queen of Music and LGBTQ+ Inclusion

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Michelle Raymond

(Photo by Shawnee Custalow)

When Michelle Raymond moved to Spain in 2016 to pursue an M.B.A. in International Business at IE Business School in Madrid, she had no idea that this experience would be so formative. It was during this time that Raymond hosted LGBT+@Work, the longest-running LGBTQ+ conference in Europe, and jumpstarted her career in diversity and inclusion work.

Raymond, now 34, is currently the Director of Global Business Development at myGwork, the largest global recruitment and networking hub for the LGBTQ+ business community. An “LGBTQ+ LinkedIn” of sorts, myGwork allows LGBTQ+ people to connect with more than 300 inclusive employers and find jobs, mentors, and professional events.

Before that, Raymond made a name for herself as a diversity and inclusion consultant. As the Conference Director for LGBT+@Work, Raymond worked to get companies operating in Madrid involved in the conference. But she kept coming up against an obstacle: most of the companies did not have a diversity and inclusion budget.

Raymond took it upon herself to help these companies by securing funding from their U.S. headquarters and providing free diversity and inclusion trainings to employees. Her advocacy efforts helped secure more than $35,000 in sponsorship during her first year as Conference Director for LGBT+@Work. Less than three years later, Raymond helped the event grow to become the third-largest LGBTQ+ Work Conference hosted by a business school in the world.

This work has kept Raymond pretty busy, yet somehow still leaves her with enough time to pursue a music career. Over the last decade, Raymond has performed and recorded music under the artist name “Michi” and served as the opening act for artists including Miley Cyrus, Meghan Trainor, Rita Ora, Kelly Rowland, and Carly Rae Jepsen.

In 2020, Raymond earned a Master’s Degree in Global Entertainment & Music Business from Berklee College of Music, where she was awarded the Outstanding Women’s Scholarship and a mentorship with Yvette Noel-Schure, legendary publicist to Beyoncé, John Legend, and Chloe x Halle, just to name a few. As part of her degree, Raymond also launched LAVICHI Records, a record label to cultivate and amplify the work of diverse musicians.

When asked how she balances it all, Raymond says: “You just make time for the things that you love. During the day, I rock a leather jacket and talk about diversity and inclusion with business leaders from all over the world, and at night, I literally get to rock – where you’ll find me performing onstage, rainbow guitar in tow, in front of the audience of people I spend my day trying to help. Life doesn’t get much better than that.”

 

 

 

 

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Becca Damante
Becca Damante
Becca is a Smith college graduate with a B.A. in Women and Gender Studies and an Archives concentration. She has worked and written for non-profits organizations such as Media Matters for America, The Century Foundation, and GLAAD, and loves to write about the intersections between pop culture, politics, and social justice. You can find her at @beccadamante on Twitter.