Below is an excerpt from Out & Equal CEO, Erin Uritus’, address at the 2022 Executive Forum in San Francisco.

Let’s take a minute. Together. To reflect on the changes. The grief. And how we found ourselves – what we are made of –
in the midst of crises after crises, from COVID, to the trauma of racist violence, global wars, the attacks on our rights.

And let’s reflect on and cradle our perseverance and survival.

We have entered 2022 forever changed.

For some of us, there are scars. For others, replenishing healing over those scars.

I invite you to see this as a new way of being.

A rebirth.

Who were we in the spring of 2020?

We were terrified. Traumatized. About to feel loss on a scale so massive, science fiction scripts would be rejected for their outlandish portrayal of a year like that.

Our most brutal, challenging moments can become our greatest calls to action. These moments teach us how to focus – out of bare necessity – on what is most needed and what is most important.

When we went into lockdown, we rapidly transformed the Out & Equal best known for its global in-person events – to the Out & Equal best known for converting all of its programs to a virtual environment.

We had no time to lose.

And I don’t mean plug and pay from live to virtual. I mean literally creating new programs, new ways of forging community, and the world’s largest virtual gathering of thousands of LGBTQ advocates at our annual Summit.

Our team was recently invited to present at the world’s major Events trade show on how we did it. How we brought together inspiring people like ALOK, Laverne Cox, Bri Scurry, multiple CEOs and others, alongside dozens of workshops on cutting-edge practices. And most importantly, how we sustained community across our virtual platforms.

When so much was uncertain, vulnerability and raw connection was simply the way of being.

And I am proud of how we built this.

Since 2020, our global learning community has grown exponentially. There are hundreds of companies in our Global Hub, registering their ERGs and posting their latest Self-ID practices. We have launched hundreds of teaching modules and resources. We are convening community engagement groups to harness our voices, our knowledge, and our power.

We rallied and you rallied with us. When it was hardest to bring ourselves to work. To show up as our best selves. We had each other’s backs.

And when we had those breakthroughs together, we got to celebrate as a global force of thousands of LGBTQ leaders from all walks of life!

The movement as a whole is in a rebirth – brought on by changing demographics in our community, especially among our youth, and solidified in the face of relentless and varied ways we are being attacked.

All of us should know, when you see what’s happening in states like Texas and Florida and others. When you hear what Deena and Sarah brought to us yesterday from the front lines of the legal battle that feels like unending crashing waves…

We. Have. No. Time. To lose!

This is our moment. All hands on deck!

God forbid we face another Administration like we had under Trump.

We need a full business change agent ecosystem – from rapid response on public policy to community engagement groups, to practical resources to support trans and nonbinary employees, and beyond!

Now is your moment! What space will you occupy?

What goal can you make for yourself? And For your organization?

YOU are the ones who will ensure that 2023 has more victories for equality instead of setbacks or hate than 2022!

YOU will cut through the noise and connect with new colleagues this week to strategize in Texas where our youth are under attack.

YOU will adopt our pronoun guide and make sure everyone in your company recognizes that culture is built every day.

YOU will ensure that any ERG that celebrates whitewashed versions of Pride, becomes intersectional!

YOU will become the mentor you needed when you were younger.

And YOU will embrace the challenges.

Even if you have to reach around and grab the corners of your superhero capes to wipe your forehead or eyes.

YOU will lead by example.

There is no single person in your company like you. Your journey – with its moments of growth and discomfort and perseverance is unlike anybody else’s.

When these individual journeys fill a room, fill a discussion and become best practice – then that framework for change is intersectional.

When we are our dynamic, layered selves, WE ARE the Future of Work.

Our kids are standing up into their own fluid identities.

And we owe them a future of work that welcomes them in their fullness.

And it’s up to us to finally rise up and form a blockade around them as their identities are coming under attack… state to state.

And we need to rise up for each other. Stay in the discomfort of being white and deeply internalizing privilege. Don’t abandon the conversation about misogyny. Stay attuned to able-ism and the return to work. Stay in the challenge.

Because if you are not being challenged and sticking with it, you are not being an ally.

And more than anything, we need each other. When I look across this room, I recognize people who told me they were going to leave the corporate sector because they didn’t belong.

I see those who pulled me aside at my first ExFo and quietly told me they were also Bisexual, but just telling people they were gay to get along.

I see people who always referred to leadership in the third, not the first person.

But I now see LGBTQ leaders who are entering into their fullness.

And I say, WELCOME! We need you!

The space you are claiming is your own and for those coming after you.

Whether or not you refer to yourself this way, you are leaders in a movement, and I’m happy you are with me – with us.

Thank you for being here, for being you, and the next version of yourself we all need!