In New York, non-profit and business leaders discuss the importance of transgender inclusion and protections

More than 200 LGBT+ business leaders gathered in May 2019 in New York for Out Leadership’s 9th annual U.S. Summit, sponsored by EY, Ogilvy, and Ropes & Gray.

Ogilvy hosted the first session, LGBT+ in the Corner Office: CEO’s Taking Action.

Sarah McBride, National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign moderated a panel focused on business’s role in advocating for transgender rights, with Bill Campbell, Executive Director and Business Tax Global Compliance and Reporting Leader, EY, Pam StewartSVP of National Retail Sales, Coca-Cola North America, and Allison VanKuiken, Executive Director of TransCanWork.

Pam Stewart on the importance of pushing for change:

“If you are working at a pace that people feel comfortable with, you’re probably not pressing on inclusion in the deep ways needed to change hearts and minds, to really create an inclusive workforce. If everyone’s nodding and feeling comfortable and not being forced to think, they’re probably not working hard enough. All of us who are leaders, who have that decision-making power have to move faster than people feel comfortable. Not just internally, but the people who are already part of your customer programs. We get those same pushes at Coca-Cola, we go out for those ads. Don’t allow the external ethos to define your values.”

In New York, non-profit and business leaders discuss the importance of transgender inclusion and protections

Sarah McBride on the unique challenges surrounding transgender inclusion:

“One of the things that I think is a challenge in the fight for trans rights that’s different than the fight for LGB rights, is that most people who are straight can understand what it feels like to love and lust, so they’re able to enter into conversations around sexual orientation with sort of an analogous experience that allows them to build empathy and compassion for gay, lesbian and bisexual folks, who are not transgender. But most people who aren’t transgender don’t have the analogous experience to having a gender identity that differs from your sex assigned at birth, so the conversations that we have to have are a little bit different around transgender rights. And folks who might be great on gay rights lag a little bit behind on trans rights, and have a slightly more difficult time getting fully on board.”

Allison VanKuiken on the impact of TransCanWork:

“We provide access to a very talented and gender-diverse talent pool, and what I love is seeing companies come to us weeks or months later, saying, ‘Wow, this person is really working out, who else have you got?’ Each of those stories is exciting to hear, and each makes me feel like the work I’m engaged in is slowly changing and shifting cultures.”

Bill Campbell on what was at the core of EY’s advocacy in upholding transgender non-discrimination protections in Massachusetts:

“Great companies hire great employees. We just have to empower and engage them, and then, when necessary, educate them. But also, we reached out to the community to get companies like ours. Nobody knows this, but when you have a bunch of accounting firms together, that’s when you’re going to win a war. It’s a known fact. We had our competition just walking into EY and, where we’re engaged is with the community. In that way it was a powerful voice.”


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