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2020 Outies: Belonging During COVID

Outie Awards (the “Outies”) recognize individuals and organizations who are leaders in advancing equality for LGBTQ people in workplaces globally. Outies are awarded at the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit.

This award recognizes an organization – company, federal agency or non-profit – that stepped up to the challenges of operating in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic by innovating to maintain and increase a sense of belonging for all employees.



Due to COVID-19, a vast majority of John Deere’s 1,300 Rainbow ERG members, primarily based in the Americas, are working from home. The ERG leaders realized immediately that they needed to re-think their plans, and they identified feelings of isolation as a problem that needed their urgent attention. Widely popular virtual check-ins and other programming followed. Rainbow ERG also continued their educational efforts by partnering with the company’s Policy & Education Committee and Diversity & Inclusion Council to develop and launch the first-ever LGBTQ Awareness Online Course to teach employees how to recognize challenges, display empathy, learn inclusive language, and how to be an active ally. During the current movement towards racial justice, Rainbow ERG partnered with BERG, John Deere’s people of color ERG, to hold conversations and draft a formal statement on racial justice to company leaders.


“Rainbow ERG has concentrated efforts to remain connected to our members through a variety of engaging and creative virtual solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have done this by reimagining what is possible and leveraging available technology. Rainbow ERG has not only adapted to the environment but thrived.”



When the COVID-19 lockdown began in March, JP Morgan Chase’s global and regional Diversity & Inclusion leads quickly instructed ERG’s to focus on employee engagement across all communities and to increase direct ERG member outreach. The PRIDE ERG and JPMC’s LGBT+ Executive Forum created virtual events across the world and partnered with LGBTQ organizations to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ community. Among the virtual offerings, PRIDE US hosted panels with Out & Equal, Human Rights Campaign, SAGE, The LGBT Center, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Europe PRIDE hosted weekly wellness sessions for employees and provided education for families. APAC PRIDE hosted virtual evening social events, including weekly “drop in” session. Latin America PRIDE held sessions including a fireside chat with JPMC’s General Counsel Stacey Friedman. In some chapters, the PRIDE leadership committee divided their local membership among committee members and booked virtual coffee catch-ups with these members to make sure they were doing ok.


“Our global and regional D&I leads were quick to instruct all ERG’s that the expectation was for employee engagement across all communities to continue, and to increase direct ERG member reach-out to ensure our employees from minority communities were safe and in contact with other members of their respective communities.”


When the COVID-19 pandemic called on the world to leverage resources and take care of one another, Target answered the call both financially and with human capital. Target Corporation has offered financial support and medical supplies to local and global organizations that are addressing the immediate needs of vulnerable communities. This commitment also extended to supporting the over 300,000 essential workers employed by Target, including increased pay for frontline team members and expanding paid leave for at-risk employees. Additionally, amid social unrest and a deep cultural movement towards racial justice, Target quickly pivoted to stand with the Black community through ERG programming, public statements of support and calls to action, and support for local front-line organizations.


“From our perspective, we’re all essential to someone else and it’s that sense of connectivity that nurtures belonging. So, no matter the circumstances, you are supported, protected, cared for, and welcomed, not only because you belong, but because you are essential, to us.”

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Out & Equal is the global convener, thought leader and catalyst actively working to achieve workplaces of equality and belonging - supporting LGBTQ+ employees and leaders who thrive in their careers and lives and achieve greater impact on the world.