fbpx Skip to main content

Advancing Inclusion and Belonging Throughout the American South

Out & Equal has a vibrant legacy of bringing people together to create powerful, long-lasting impacts rooted in community, inclusion, and unapologetic Queer joy. The 2024 Out & Equal Southern States Forum remained true to our tradition of curating spaces for professionals to hone their leadership skills, examine emerging trends, build their network, and surface powerful blueprints for advancing inclusion and belonging in the workplace and beyond.  

This year’s Forum reinforced the significance of resilience, community, and valuing difference. In the context of an ongoing, historic wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the United States, with a particular prevalence in the American South, Out & Equal convened nearly 200 workplace advocates, changemakers, and leaders from close to 90 Southern-based companies to reinforce, equity, inclusion, and belonging are the right things to do and smart business practice.  

Southern CEOs: Don’t just celebrate Pride, catalyze it
When employees know they belong in their workplace, they are more motivated.
By Erin Uritus (she/her), CEO of Out & Equal

Beyond inspiring attendees, the Forum served as an opportunity to highlight relevant and impactful thought leadership from Out & Equal. Findings from our recently released Talent on the Move Report, which examined how the changing policy landscape in the US has impacted the experiences of LGBTQ+ people and allies, provided important insights and opportunities for reflection throughout Forum programming. 

Photo credit: Mark Morinii, 2024

Attendee Highlights

To download this chart hover in the upper-right corner and click the download button.

Intersectionality, Inclusion, and Action

Through a powerful program centered on intersectionality, inclusion-building strategies, and action-oriented solutions, we brought together leaders, practitioners, and changemakers for inspiring keynotes, dynamic discussions, and insightful learning sessions. The objective: explore the unique challenges and opportunities businesses face in creating truly inclusive workplaces in the American South and beyond.

Program highlights include:

  • Key Findings from Out & Equal’s Talent on the Move Report: Leveraging data from Out & Equal’s recently released research, which examines how shifting public policy has impacted LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, this session spotlighted the specific DEIB action steps employers can take to effectively respond, with a specific emphasis on the American South.

  • Race and the Queer Community: This panel explored the complex and often overlooked intersection of racial identity and LGBTQ+ experiences, and the need for urgent collective action to address systemic disparities. 

  • Gender and the Queer Community: This panel provided insights into the unique barriers and opportunities facing nonbinary, Queer, and transgender individuals in leadership roles. 

    Through the discussion, participants gained a deeper understanding of how gender diversity can enhance organizational effectiveness, drive innovation, and create a more equitable workplace culture. 

  • The Business Case for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in the South: Valuing difference and creating workplace cultures rich in inclusion and belonging are smart business practice. This panel highlighted the DEIB strategies and frameworks used to create cultures of belonging that ultimately help advance key business strategies, improve talent retention and attraction, and increase brand loyalty.   

  • A Strategic Action Plan for DEIB Leaders: How can leaders and change agents achieve meaningful impact that results in lasting change? In this session, attendees gained valuable insights including techniques for leveraging their workplace spheres of influence and for increasing awareness around personal bias through a strategic, 5-step process that centered the power of storytelling and helped attendees develop concrete strategies for advancing workplace equity

Alongside compelling keynote addresses, insightful learning sessions, and unmatched opportunities for networking and community-building, this year’s Southern States Forum was a resounding call to action: the principles and values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging must be reaffirmed and recommitted to.

As agents of change, it’s critical that we fully commit to embracing the diverse and intersectional identities within our community. We must recognize that true inclusivity thrives at the intersection of every unique experience and perspective. It’s from there that workplace cultures of belonging can be built and individuals can show up as their authentic self and thrive.

Explore the Gallery

Join Us at
2024 Out & Equal
Workplace Summit

Download the


Global workplaces where all people are equal, belong, and thrive.


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.