Out & Equal hosted the Southern States Forum: Pride & Resilience – a forum for leaders from the U.S. South – on June 4. The Southern States Forum brought together hundreds of LGBTQ and ally professionals from national and multinational companies, local advocacy groups, and non-profits to share Southern perspectives on what it means for individuals and companies to be resilient this Pride season.  

Out & Equal has transformed the annual conference into multiple virtual engagements, with each following a particular theme. This quarter’s forum included inspirational stories from leaders in the South, shared best practices in harnessing the power of our own narratives, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities during interactive breakout sessions. 

Out & Equal Managing Director and Chief Program and Partnerships Officer, Deena Fidas, kicked off the forum with an acknowledgement of Pride and all of the incredible work companies are taking on this Pride month and beyond. Following Deena’s opening, attendees heard from 5 keynote speakers – Raquel Barlow, Cracker Barrel, Kaleb and Carrie Hall, Toyota, Monique Evans, Wells Fargo, and Toni Barrington, Chevron. These leaders shared their own stories of resiliency and what Pride means to them both in their personal lives and in the workplace. The stories covered themes of living authentically, the journey to coming out, mental health in the workplace, and creating cultures of belonging. Deena hosted a session on storytelling and how LGBTQ people can share their stories as a tool for inclusion. Attendees broke out into interactive small groups to discuss their own stories and share the ways they show resiliency in their workplaces. 

The Southern States Forum presentation can be downloaded here.