On Wednesday, Out Leadership Founder and Principal Todd Sears joined the final day of the Pride in Practice Conference in Sydney, participating in a CEO Luncheon, a CEO panel discussion, and delivering a Keynote address. The conference was organized by Pride in Diversity, an initiative aimed at advancing LGBTI workplace inclusion in Australia.
As the International Keynote Guest, brought to Sydney by HSBC Australia, Sears started the day by delivering a keynote speech to all attendees outlining the role of Leadership in LGBTI Inclusion. He then participated in the first-ever Australian CEO Roundtable on LGBTI Inclusion. Paul Zahra, former CEO of retailer David Jones and PwC Diversity Advisory Board Member, moderated the CEO panel that followed, which also featured Luke Sayers, CEO of PwC Australia, and Jennifer Williams, CEO of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Sears remarked that LGBTI inclusion is especially effective because of intersectionality: “It’s the canary in the coal mine. If you’re good with LGBTI, you’re good with others.” He further noted that LGBTI executives can often excel at practicing an empathetic leadership that fosters inclusivity, and that “communities that are inclusive are innovative and productive.”
The panel continued by discussing intention and actions above the language used or getting the acronym right. Allowing our leaders room to “make mistakes” while they go on this journey is very important, the panel agreed. Often it’s the little things that will make a big difference in LGBTI inclusion. They continued by noting that there is opportunity in most businesses to formalize informal structures that are driving LGBTI inclusion within their organization.
Sears also remarked on the importance of active CEO allies, noting the huge number of CEOs who do great work to support the LGBTI community, and observing that many chief executives have been involved in every Out Leadership Summit. Active involvement is crucial and important, Sears argued: “the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, was the first major CEO to go on the record supporting marriage equality. He didn’t care that his support lost the firm a client, because when it comes down to it, supporting what’s right is all about building business.”