As an American who has worked overseas in an environment where it’s not OK to be out, I personally know the courage – and sometimes the risk – that it takes to live an authentic life. I also know the amazing power and fulfillment that comes from being out and equal at work, both for us individually and for those around us.
As I get settled into my second month as CEO of Out & Equal, I’m discovering that one of the greatest joys of my new job is learning the stories of the ripple effects of change that spiral out from our Out & Equal programs and events. These stories come from our constituents, colleagues and friends, and increasingly they’re coming from diverse corners of the world too.
In 2017, our Senior Director of Global Initiatives Steve Roth created the Out & Equal Global Fellows program and we welcomed three inspiring Fellows from Kenya, Latvia and India for an intensive leadership development program in LGBTQ workplace inclusion. In just the few short months since their time with us at Out & Equal, they are each creating change in new and important ways in their respective communities.
Last month, Levis Nderitu of the Sullivan Reed Society hosted the Colourful Workplaces Conference, a one-day symposium on diversity and inclusion in the workplace in Kenya – a country that still criminalizes same-sex relations. Kaspars Zalitis, founder of the Association Open Centre in Latvia is developing a Diversity Index to rate Latvian companies on their workplace inclusion policies. And just this week, Suresh Ramdas launched a series of Transgender Awareness Sessions at HP India to promote dialogue and pave the way for more opportunity for transgender Indians.
I get so inspired when I hear stories like these – stories often sparked by attendance at an Out & Equal event or participation in one of our programs or activities. These stories fuel our work and inspire so many others by the lives they touch.
I’m spending my first year on what we’re calling The Big Listen and I would love to hear your stories too. If you work internationally and have attended an Out & Equal event or participated in one of our programs – either in the U.S. or around the world – we’d love to hear from you. This survey will only take a few minutes and is an important component of my listening tour.
I salute all those who have the courage to lead and to just be themselves around the world, and I want you to know that we have many more great programs and initiatives planned for our global colleagues in 2018 and beyond.
In gratitude, equality and hope,
Out & Equal CEO