History

Out & Equal™ Workplace Advocates has a deep and rewarding history.

In 1996, Selisse Berry had a vision:  that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people everywhere would be treated as equals in the workplace, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, or characteristics. An out lesbian, Selisse was hired to direct the Building Bridges Training Program. She shared her vision of ending employment discrimination with the then-CEO of United Way of the Bay Area in San Francisco, who saw the merit of the idea. He provided Selisse with a desk, a phone and a small grant and essentially told her to “go for it.” Pictured above, Selisse Berry and Anne Wilson, the current Chief Executive Officer of the United Way, celebrate the beginning of a movement.

With the help of other LGBT pioneers, Selisse organized the merger of Building Bridges with two other LGBT workplace organizations to form the Pride Collaborative. In 1999, the Pride Collaborative merged with COLLEAGUES to form Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, which continued to provide the Out & Equal Workplace Summit, networking events, and the Building Bridges training program.

In January 2004, after years of being supported by the United Way of the Bay Area, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates became an independent 501 [c] 3 organization.

The organization has grown significantly with dramatic increases in attendance for the annual Workplace Summit, the expansion of Regional Affiliate networks across the United States, and many global initiatives. Out & Equal has created numerous programs to advance its mission, including the first Global Summit in London, the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit, the LGBT Executive Forum and Leadership Celebration, bimonthly Town Call seminars, and the world’s largest LGBT Employee Resource Group Registry.

These successful programs continue to attract the attention of major corporations, and individual sponsors. Only through their partnership could Out & Equal have become the leading advocacy organization it is today. We are grateful to all of our sponsors for their generosity and wide-spread support throughout the years!

Timeline


1996 – Selisse Berry hired as Executive Director of Building Bridges training program. 

1997 - The Out & Equal in the 90s conference held in Rochester, NY.
   
1998 – Progress, Building Bridges, and AGOG merge into the Pride Collaborative.

1999 – The first Out & Equal Workplace Summit is held in Atlanta, GA.

2000 – The Pride Collaborative and Colleagues merge into Out & Equal Workplace Advocates.

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit held in Seattle, WA with 300 participants.

2001 – Mandy Carter and Mike Wilke speak at Out & Equal’s Workplace Summit in Northern Kentucky.

2002 - Patricia Ireland and Howard Dean address a crowd of 400 at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Orlando, FL.

2003 - Mitchell Gold, Esera Tuaolo, and Ann Richards speak at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Minneapolis, MN.

2004 - Sally Sussman, Geoffrey Frost, Billie Jean King and Rebecca Walker speak at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Tempe, AZ

2005 – US Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Judy Shepard, Tim Gill, and B.D. Wong speak at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Denver, CO to 1,000 people.

2006 – George Takei, Nina Jacobson, Richard Florida and Yolanda King speak at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Chicago, IL to 1,650 participants.

2007 – John Amaechi, Chrissy Gephardt, Brian Graden, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon speak at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit held in Washington, DC with 2,400 participants.

2008 - Don Knauss is the first CEO to speak out openly for LGBT workplace equality at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Austin, TX.

Out & Equal begins the annual Executive Forum to convene openly LGBT executives.

The Out & Equal Leadership Celebration introduced to honor workplace courage and support of LGBT equality.

2009 – Director of the US Office of Personnel Management John Berry, Sharon Allen, Kevin Brockman, Leslie Jordan, John Quinones and Kenji Yoshino speak at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Orlando, FL.

2010 - Intuit CEO Brad Smith, Kimberly Reed, Kinsey Sicks, Virasb Vahidi, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Chai Feldblum, and Chely Wright speak at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Los Angeles, CA, with nearly 2,500 participants.

2011 - Sander van 't Noordende, Kathy Martinez, Candis Cayne, Andy Cohen, Meredith Baxter, Paul Bell, LZ Granderson, Rick Welts, Donna Brazile, and Mike Ullman speak at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Dallas, TX, with over 2,700 attendees.

2012 – Out & Equal Workplace Advocates hold the first Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London, UK. Martina Navratilova, Harry van Dorenmalen, Anna Grodzka, Vladi Luxuria, and John Amaechi speak.

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit is held in Baltimore, Maryland. View the highlights video here!