9 important things we learned at the 2020 Europe Summit
In September, over 2,000 senior business and community leaders attended our 9th annual Europe Summit.

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”

― John F. Kennedy

Throughout our ten-year history we have relentlessly focused on convening conversations for senior business leaders to advance the cause of LGBTQ+ equality. We’ve always believed that business only engages in activities that drive sustainable bottom line impact, which is why the idea of Return On Equality has been so effective. It also shifts the conversation away from religion, politics or culture, and roots it firmly in the idea of business impact.

So with our necessary pivot to virtual events this year we have been asked questions about how we retain that focus on senior business leaders. I’m delighted to say that so far this year, over 70% of our attendees are Director level and above. Delivering content virtually has allowed us to convene more conversations and reach more people in more countries than we have been able to previously. So far this year more than 15,000 people have attended our virtual events. To put that in perspective, we typically see 100-200 people at our Summits.

Looking Back at the 2020 Europe Summit:

From the 1st through 30th September, over 2,000 senior business and community leaders attended our 9th annual Europe Summit sponsored by HSBC, our Global Summit Sponsor. Throughout the entire month, we delivered unique and dynamic virtual programming. We heard talks from 50+ renowned speakers on a wide range of  leadership topics from activism, allyship, intersectionality, the future of networking, forced LGBTQ+ migration and the increasingly violent persecution LGBTQ+ people are facing in Poland to breaking binaries in European advertising.

Watch the opening Summit session here.

Here are 9 of the most memorable things we learned in September. 

1. For C-Suite leaders being a visible and authentic ally requires vulnerability.

So far this year I’ve spoken with more than 20 C-suite leaders from around the world as part of our Leadership Lounge interview series. What’s striking about these conversations I’m having with leaders is how open and authentic they’ve been, how willing they are to sharing anecdotes from their personal lives, not just their careers.

During the Europe Summit I had the pleasure of speaking with the Global Senior Partner of Clifford Chance, Jeroen Ouwehand. Jeroen spoke eloquently about how to be a visible and authentic ally. But the topic he was most interested in talking about is sharing how proud he is of his 16 year old daughter’s activism.

2. WFH has transformed professional networking forever.

Lotte Jeffs, Former Editor in Chief of Elle UK and Published Author led a panel discussion discussing how COVID-19 has broken the mold of in-person networking and led to innovative ways to harness the power of community. Amie Snow-Mayers – Creative and WPP/Ogilvy Roots Co-Founder, Hayley Sudbury – CEO @ Werkin

3. Our difference is our advantage.

OutWOMEN events are an integral part of our Global Summits and this year was no different. This year’s OutWOMEN event was made possible with the support of our Global Sponsor, HSBC and featured athletes & LGBTQ+ role models, Shanaze Reade, Heather Fisher & Kate Richard-Walsh for a discussion on the important role sport can play in advancing LGBTQ+ equality in Europe.

4. Employee Resource Groups shouldn’t just make a company comfortable, they should challenge what a company is doing.

Following the phenomenal success of the Global OutNEXT Summit in August, the latest OutNEXT Session was held as part of the Europe Summit. This event was moderated by Beth Try, Senior Consultant, from Member Firm PwC. Beth was joined by emerging LGBTQ+ leaders from some of the world’s best known firms (AWS, BP, PwC) to discuss what it means to champion inclusivity in the workplace.

5. We are convinced the private sector can find ways to support grassroot movements and contribute to social change with locally based solutions.

Our mission at Out Leadership is to leverage the power of the private sector to advocate for a better, more equal world, where all voices are heard. Our Managing Director, Global Advocacy, Fabrice Houdart convened a conversation about the alarming rise of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in Poland for an episode of his Global Pulse on Equality Series.

Watch the recording here:

7. Increasing the representation of transgender and gender non-binary people in advertising will lead to more exposure and greater acceptance of their identities.

Marion McDonald, Global Practice Leader, Ogilvy Health & Wellness and Executive Sponsor of OgilvyPROUD with guest speakers, Eli Vasiliou – Creative Director @ Iris Worldwide, Martin Eisend, Professor of Marketing at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany and Geoffroy Seghetti – EUR Regional PRIDE & co-Lead & VP of Marketing & Communications for Western Europe at our member firm Mastercard.

8. Our groundbreaking allyship research revealed that just 45% of self-identified allies actively protect their LGBTQ+ colleagues from harassment in the workplace.

In June we published AllyUP, the first of a series of groundbreaking reports on allyship, based on initial findings from our Global LGBT+ Workplace Study where we surveyed over 5,000 workers in 13 countries around the world. The AllyUP Series maps how organizations can build alliance and inclusion at every level of engagement: among coworkers; across the enterprise; and throughout the larger community.

As part of our 2020 Europe Summit Closing Session, we launched AllyUP Europe, Landscape of Corporate Allyship in Europe which focuses on the findings from four European countries (France, Italy, Germany & the UK).

9. While on average 90% of European employees support workplace and governmental protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, only 56% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents identify as allies.

If you are interested in joining our upcoming 2020 US Summit,  check it out here.

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