OutNEWS – Double Feature

In this week's OutNEWS: A recap of the OutNEXT Global Summit, the Return On Equality™ ESG Summit, National Coming Out Day, ESG Research, and world news.

Apologies if I sound more excited than I normally do this week, but we — you included! — just accomplished something extraordinary: we convened two benchmark GLOBAL SUMMITS in two weeks! With the invaluable support of our partners: RBC Capital Markets and Citi (proud sponsors of OutNEXT), Ropes & Gray and MSCI (dedicated sponsors of our Return On Equality™ ESG Summit), and Nasdaq (our ESG summit host), we brought emerging and developing LGBTQ+ leaders together from around the world and immediately followed it up with our first ESG Summit, the culmination of nearly 30 global workgroup sessions and salons with 46 companies.


Pictured above clockwise from top left to right: Todd Sears, Founder & CEO, Out Leadership, Mila Jam, Recording Artivist and Senior Advisor, Out Leadership; OutNexters at the Networking Social; OutNexters during the annual Social Impact Challenge presentations; Ali Krieger, Women’s World Cup Soccer Champion, NY/NJ Gotham player, Jane Barry-Moran; Todd Sears with Hannah and Jake Graf, Transgender Activists


It’s not just the logistical one-two-punch of pulling off two global events of this sophistication in a row (the Out Leadership team always makes me proud). And it’s not just the jaw-dropping caliber of business icons, luminaries, and thought leaders that we brought together (though we do know how to put on a show). It’s the unqualified level of investment that every participant brought to each session, salon, fireside chat, and social gathering that has me grinning from ear to ear and deeply inspired to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

At OutNEXT — our 10th annual global summit — I was struck by how much the world has changed in a decade and how many leaders responsible for those positive changes proudly call themselves OutNEXT-ers. It’s been a real joy to see some of today’s fiercest CEOs, General Councils, politicians, advocates, and more come out of OutNEXT. I’ve been lucky to witness firsthand how they engaged with each other and challenged themselves to grow and thrive.

I’m proud of how timely our Out to Succeed research has been and continues to be. Released in conjunction with the Summit, the research shows a historic 122% rise in the number of LGBTQ+ people who are out at work (from 36% to 80% from 2016 to 2023). That staggering improvement is deeply connected to the tools, curriculum, and networking that OutNEXT provides. One participant noted that the Summit was not unlike Hogwarts, a safe place to learn, socialize, and grow. I appreciate the comparison. We may not be wizards, but we are different and exceptional. Some call it magic, we call it an OutVANTAGE™.

What’s equally exciting is that the OutNEXT Class of 2023 isn’t dismissive – or worse, unaware – of how we got here and how far we’ve yet to go. These new LGBTQ+ leaders understand and are grateful that their experience isn’t informed by AIDS or the fear of being fired like mine was. And in turn, I understand the unique, generational challenges that they face and am deeply grateful for their ferocity in addressing the existing and escalating inequalities of today.

At the ESG Summit, I also took stock of how far we’ve come in just 18 months. What started as an idea a year-and-a-half ago has grown into a full-fledged brain trust of business leaders and thought partners, each as dedicated as the next to embedding LGBTQ+ equality into global business practices through ESG. This work is a critical step for LGBTQ+ progress as we outlined in our Ten Year Ambition Statement last year. The Summit’s success — its very existence — proves that despite what a few “anti-woke-ists” in Congress and on TV might suggest, the time for this strategic, global push is now. From our pre-summit standing-room-only gathering at Maxwell Social to our final speaker, the engagement was electric. What’s more, we’re not being reactive – we’re being proactive. Businesses are leading this fight – whether they call it ESG or not – because they know it’s what their employees demand, it’s what their consumers want, and it’s what’s best for their bottom line.


Pictured above clockwise from top left to right: Rachel Hodgdon, CEO, IWBI, Karl Racine, Partner, Hogan Lovells, former Attorney General of DC, John Adler, Chief ESG Officer, NYC Office of the Comptroller; ESG Summit attendees; Ken Janssens, Senior Advisor, Out Leadership


In hindsight, the takeaway from both Summits that moves me the most is this: connection catalyzes change. Every single participant I spoke to was committed to taking what they learned, the experiences they had, and the tools they were given back to where they work and to use them to strengthen LGBTQ+ equality in their own lives and in the lives of their coworkers. Each and every time we connect we get stronger and we bring that strength back home.

The muggles could never.

Todd G. Sears
Founder and CEO
Out Leadership

PS: If you joined us at OutNEXT and/or the ESG Summit, thank you! If you didn’t, there are many more opportunities to connect! In the next month alone we’ll be on three continents for LA OutNEXT, the Australia Summit, and the Asia Summit. See you there!

Here’s what you need to know this week…



Out Leadership is coming to Asia and Australia!



Out Leadership Founder & CEO Todd Sears will be in Australia from October 15th – October 29th, Tokyo from October 30th – 31st, and Hong Kong from November 1st – November 9th.

Out Leadership members may register for limited spots at Australia Summit and Asia Summit events in the Out Leadership Member Portal.


This National Coming Out Day, celebrate historic progress for LGBTQ+ workers.


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ESG is more LGBTQ+ inclusive than ever.



As part of the Return on Equality™ ESG Summit, which concluded last week, Out Leadership published a new report on the state of LGBTQ+ inclusion in ESG initiatives.

Among the key findings in the new Return on Equality™ ESG Report, designed and led by Ken Janssens, a former J.P. Morgan Chief Data Officer and Out Leadership Senior Advisor, include:

  • 91% of Fortune 100 companies report on their LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts through their ESG and DEI reports.

  • 14% of Fortune 100 companies share the size of their LGBTQ+ workforce through their ESG and DEI reports. A tenfold increase over the last 5 years.

  • 45% of Fortune 100 companies call out LGBTQ+-owned businesses as part of the scope of their supplier diversity programs.

The report outlines six leading reporting practices and four next-level reporting practices leading to LGBTQ+ inclusiveness in ESG reporting.

Read the Full Report

Return on Equality™ ESG Summit was sponsored by Ropes & Gray and MSCI, and hosted by Nasdaq.


No rainbows on the rink: NHL bans pride symbols



The National Hockey League (NHL) has banned the use of Pride symbols on the ice, including rainbow-colored stick tape and Pride jerseys. The ban, sent from the league’s main office to all 32 teams, extends to games, warm-ups, and practices. The NHL has confirmed this policy with Outsports, a leading organization for LGBTQ+ athletes.

The ban is the most harsh anti-LGBTQ+ policy in any American professional sports league. Earlier this year, multiple NHL players refused to wear Pride-themed jerseys citing both religious objections and (for some Russian players) fear of political reprisals from the Putin regime.


Türkiye’s Erdoğan calls LGBTQ+ community “perverse”


Pictured above: Turkish pride demonstrations continued during contentious elections in May


Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his stance on LGBTQ+ rights, saying he did not “recognize LGBT” and claimed that acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community would destroy traditional family values.

Erdoğan’s right-wing AK Party doubled down on its anti-LGBTQ+ positions ahead of elections this past May and initiated brutal police crackdowns on Pride celebrations.

The comments follow a somewhat baffling statement about his time at the United Nations General Assembly when Erdoğan complained about the use of multicolored displays promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It is unclear whether the Turkish President mistook the display for an LGBTQ+ pride flag, or is simply sensitive to the use of multiple bright colors due to his political stances.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, although popular sentiment toward the LGBTQ+ community remains hostile.

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