myGwork welcomes diversity and inclusion consultant and international recording artist Michelle Raymond as their new Business Development Manager
BY MYGWORK, IMAGE BY CARLIE STEINER
Michelle Raymond, known to all as Michi, is an incredibly creative businesswoman who has used her talent to help businesses identify best practices when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion.
Originally from the U.S., Michi was born in Chester, Virginia in what she calls a “a quiet country town.” From there she developed her love of performing and her illustrious career as a musician blossomed. “I have a couple of bands, one in the U.S. and the other in Spain, and we perform anywhere and everywhere – from small local concert halls to major Pride Festivals, opening for big artists like Megan Trainor, Miley Cryus, and DJ Marshmello. When I got started, I was managing a career in Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley during the day and gigging with my band until odd hours of the night. Let’s just say… I had a very interesting lifestyle.”
Her day job was when Michi’s business career flourished and she was asked to be the representative for the Morgan Stanley Pride & Allies Network in Washington DC. After that she fell in love and moved to Spain, which she remembers jovially. “I met a Spanish girl and fell hard, I quit everything, my job, my band – none of my friends and family could believe it – they all told me I was crazy. I sold my car, hopped on a plane, and we broke up on the first day I arrived.” What others may have seen as a setback, Michi took in stride and enrolled in an MBA program at IE Business School.
“When I joined IE, I was in pretty rough shape from the move and breakup. Everyone around me thought that I was a recluse because I kept to myself and didn’t want to go out with my new classmates– in truth, I was just going through a tough time, and had too much pride to just come out to talk about it. Then one day, a guy in my course, that I knew was gay, approached me and asked me why I never hung out with the crowd. I ended up breaking down and telling him the entire story about the move and the breakup. He dragged me out with him that night, and the rest is history.” This was somewhat of a turning point for her, and she decided to join the university’s LGBTQI student group. When she joined, the club wasn’t very active – she was only the second woman to join the group that year, and the other eight members were already friends. “My reason for joining was very selfish at first, I wanted to meet new women and start dating again. But do that, I needed more women to show up at our events. I ended up running for club president, organised a slew of activities, started an allies’ program, and in less than a year, helped grow the club to be more than 300 active members.” Following this, Michi was invited by IE to be the Director of LGBT@Work – an annual workplace inclusion conference that the University runs.
From here, she approached local businesses to raise financial support for the conference. She was surprised to learn that many of the multinational companies in Spain – ones famous in the U.S. for being LGBTQI inclusive employers – did not have the same diversity resources abroad. In response, she began offering diversity and inclusion trainings to companies, and developed a niche for helping them build their LGBTQI employee resource programs from the ground up. Even though this kept her busy, she continued to be involved in music. “It was a great two years, I delivered diversity trainings by day, and ran home to throw on my guitar at night. Both of my businesses were growing, and I moved to Valencia to start a Masters in Global Entertainment and Music Business at Berklee College of Music. Life was good – and then the pandemic hit, and gatherings stopped – entertainment and business alike. Although I haven’t been able to gig with my band, it has been a really busy time. Businesses have adapted to being virtual and on the music side of things I’ve been setting up my own record label.”
Her label Lavichi Entertainment, co-founded with her girlfriend,addresses the lack of female representation in the industry and that less than 1% of record labels are owned by women. “We are so passionate about readdressing the fact that female producers only make up 2% of the industry, and only 20% of the music we hear is written by women, but we aren’t exclusively for women. I truly believe to be diverse you can’t exclude. We are representing female artists, the LGBTQI community, people of colour, those with disabilities, and older musicians… It’s crazy, you know? There is this unwritten rule that if you are over 23, labels aren’t interested in signing you, and you know what? That needs to change too.” Michi’s natural talent for music and business did not go unnoticed by Berklee, and she was awarded the prestigious Outstanding Women Scholarship, and mentorship with Yvette Noel-Schure, a top music publicist who has represented some of the biggest names in the business including Prince, Mariah Carey, and Beyonce.
That creative and business brain is what makes Michi stand out and excel in both areas. “I think that I’m so comfortable in corporate landscapes because I have a knack for business, and that experience really translates into running a label. Presenting and public speaking come naturally to me because I’m used to being on stage. When I’m speaking to an audience, I have stage presence, I can read the room, I know when to slow things down or take them up a notch, it’s all about harmony.”
At myGwork, in her first two weeks, Michi has already hit the ground running to have the network recognised as an International Diversity Supplier at NGLCC (National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce). She is also working to create a partnership with ROMBA (the largest LGBT MBA network in the United States). “My role at myGwork is to grow our corporate network and establish long-term partnerships. If I can do my part in making the corporate world a little more inclusive and visible to LGBTQI employees and candidates, well that can be only a good thing.”
“I always try to lead from a place of empathy. Inclusion and music are my passions, and I can see myself doing both forever. I want to jump on a stage at the end of the day, sing my heart out, and wake up the next day ready to carry on pushing inclusion as it’s so important for every industry.”
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