You know it. I know it. We’re all living it. COVID19 has changed our lives.

For Out & Equal, it has expedited some changes that were already in the works. For more than two decades, we relied on in-person events to learn from each other, to understand what challenges ERG’s and D&I leaders are grappling with, and to collaborate on developing effective strategies for LGBTQ inclusion.

But about a year ago, Out & Equal’s leadership adapted a new strategic plan – co-created with our stakeholders and with a rapidly evolving community and workplace context in mind – that put us on a exciting path for transformation, innovation and impact in a new era. A key element of that plan was to supplement our in-person events with a new set of tools and offerings. The Workplace Summit – and each of our other events – could only take place once a year. But new technologies and creative engagement mechanisms could help us be in touch continuously and allow for more effective modes of driving change. (See for instance this Harvard Business Review article about “New Power.”)

Social distancing has required us to re-imagine this year’s Executive Forum and the Workplace Summit as virtual events. As we do so, we are not attempting to replicate in-person events – that would be a recipe for frustration. Rather, we are leaning on what technology does well to offer enhanced capacity for connection, career development, expertise sharing and more, and supplement that with creative means for in-person connection as the world begins to open up again.

We are doing all of this because it is the best way to fulfill our dual missions to help LGBTQ people thrive and to support organizations creating a culture of belonging for all.

Last week we unveiled a refreshed Out & Equal brand and a new website. Everywhere you see Out & Equal you now also see our commitment to our partner organizations and to LGBTQ individuals. And you see that these two commitments meet at what we call the “Business of Belonging:”

We believe equality is about more than checking off boxes. And we know inclusion requires more than a set of directions. It’s about creating spaces that celebrate and foster growth for every kind of employee, and where leadership is made up of different people with diverse perspectives.

Together, we can develop an environment where everyone can thrive. That’s the Business of Belonging!

You already know how important belonging is to a company. You know that when employees can bring their full, authentic selves to work that it makes a difference in terms of teamwork, in terms of efficiency and quality, in terms of recruiting and retention, in terms of employees’ day-to-day experience in our organizations.

Belonging is not a warm and soft hug, and it must not rest on what some think is a soft or in-actionable concept. Rather, it is a smart, strategic, laser-focus on optimal organizational culture. We must be grounded in the core principal of belonging—that our potential is fulfilled only when we are bound up in the interdependence of connection.

The benefit to companies who were already building cultures of belonging was clear before the crisis of COVID19 emerged. Today, as we all navigate the challenges of the moment, we can already see that belonging is a key ingredient in effective business continuity.

This too is the Business of Belonging. Together we can make this real, impactful, and meaningful. We have a suite of virtual programs/products available to the public, and more enhanced benefits for member organizations. And… Summit Registration is open, please join us!