My dear friends,
Like you, we at Out & Equal are grappling with the new reality of operating effectively during a global pandemic. Our mission – to support workplaces of belonging and to help LGBTQ employees thrive – is too important for us to pause or slowdown in any way.
In fact, that work is all-the-more important now: If workplaces do not work towards cultures of belonging – if we are divided, suspicious or devaluing of our differences – then the toll of this crisis and feelings of disconnect will only deepen and widen.
Organizations are in the middle of a major stress-test of their systems. Leaders must be strong and forward-looking enough to know that inclusion and belonging are not simply optional or even factors in a competitive advantage, they are imperative for business continuity.
Out & Equal is not going anywhere. We are here to support our partners, especially in this challenging time.
The good news is that we had already made major investments in resources and strategies that are needed now. Two years ago, Out & Equal embarked on a process that included an intense listening tour, an in-depth needs analysis with our stakeholders, and consideration of the myriad of ways that workplaces, and our LGBTQ community, is changing.
- A foundational piece of our new strategic plan was the decision to supplement our in-person events with other best-in-class tools and technologies that support our partners. For example, we have pioneered, with technology and a “crowdsource” approach, the O&E Global Hub that – beginning this summer – will support HR, D&I, and ERGs as they develop, execute, and share cutting-edge work in creating true cultures of belonging. The Global Hub features an organized, centralized and searchable library of resources, threaded message boards, and a shared community calendar, and is available only to O&E partner organizations.
Other pillars of our strategy include:
- We have continued to improve our in-person events in exciting and dynamic ways- increasing learning and connection. The 2019 4-day Workplace Summit reached more than 6,000 queer and ally participants – the largest in the world! (Given the current uncertainties, we are preparing for scenarios that will prepare for and leverage both in-person and virtual platforms.)
- We have invested in developing and mobilizing local connections – from the Southern US to Brazil, China and India, corporate and NGO – that have resulted in resources that are tailored for various languages, cultures, local contexts, job functions and levels.
- Now that more and more of us are “at the table,” Out & Equal focuses on developing LGBTQ professionals at all phases of their careers. It is not just about helping people come out and be treated equally, it is a series of initiatives that will help LGBTQ professionals truly thrive!
We are proud that we are ahead of the curve, and that the investments we’ve made will most effectively serve our evolving community.
In addition, for the current, critical months ahead, we are enhancing virtual programming to deliver on our mission with an energized focus in 5 key pillars:
1. Change Agent Capacity Building & Support – We will help build your organizational capacity through supporting the learning, development and effectiveness of D&I & HR professionals and Executive Sponsors with access to the digital Global Hub, webinars, e- learning and toolkits/resources.
2. ERG/BRG Capacity Building – We will bolster the effectiveness of LGBTQ ERGs with tailorable, out-of-the-box resources; and the ability of D&I teams to bring these best practices to other ERG/BRG groups within their companies.
3. LGBTQ Leadership & Professional Development – We will convene and support LGBTQ employees, from the front lines-to pipeline-to the C-Suite, through our renowned Executive Forum, Roundtables, and affiliated e-learning opportunities. From the closet to you at your best, the world needs you to thrive so you can go on to achieve maximum impact in the world.
4. Global/Regional Programs – We will continue to bring targeted learning and engagement opportunities to communities around the world, and to unique regions like the US South – supporting practitioners in adapting best-practices to specific cultural environments.
5. Building Communities of Belonging – We will sustain our entire community and provide virtual platforms of connection and support for multiple groups within LGBTQ+, as well as provide tailored content on such important issues as Mental Health and Wellness, Cultures of Belonging in Virtual Environments, Preparing for 2020 Summit and more.
Stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead for specific program announcements.
These are unprecedented times. They will continue to test leaders, isolate employees, and greatly stress systems and organizational culture. Successfully navigating these times demands not just innovation and virtual solutions, but also strategic work fostering and sustaining communities of belonging. This is part of how all of us can weather this crisis.
Out & Equal is here to support our partners. We are not going anywhere!