On November 2nd, 2018, it was my extraordinary privilege to ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange. As a “recovering” banker, it meant a great deal to me to stand before my peers and celebrate the much-deserved recognition of Out Leadership’s efforts to make the global business case for LGBTQ+ equality. Equally meaningful was representing 14 incredible LGBTQ+ organizations and 330 leading companies when I announced the Trans Business Leaders Statement for Equality, which I did moments before ringing the bell. The first and largest-in-scope of its kind, the statement declared in no uncertain terms a commitment to LGBTQ+ equality broadly, and to fighting for the equality of trans people specifically.
A year prior, we’d led a powerful alliance of 300 North Carolina-invested business leaders — representing more than 2 trillion dollars — in drafting and sending a letter to Governor Roy Moore that proclaimed an unwavering commitment to LGBTQ+ equality and the dignity of trans lives. That letter has been credited for helping speed the repeal of the virulent HB 2.
I’m incredibly proud of Out Leadership’s commitment to protecting and advancing the rights of trans people. We planted a flag in North Carolina and again at the NASDAQ; we’ve created practical, implementable tools that business leaders can use to immediately improve their trans-specific equality practices; we have a powerhouse team here at Out Leadership that includes top-notch trans talent; and we have the incomparable Mila Jam, our Senior Advisor on Trans Initiatives.
But today’s letter isn’t about what we’ve done, it’s about what we’re doing next…
Building off of our history of leveraging the power of business to beat back anti-trans legislation and to advocate for the inclusion of trans people in boardrooms around the world, we are hosting our first Transgender Leadership Summit in September. The Summit will have multiple components, including bringing as many as 200 trans-identified business leaders to New York City. When our member companies accept our invitation to send two trans leaders each, it will make the Summit the largest convening of its kind in history.
But we need your help to make the Summit a success. We are looking for 10 sponsors to help us launch the inaugural convening of what we hope will become the annual Transgender Leadership Summit.
Can we count on you?
If you’re interested, please contact email@example.com.
The Summit will also feature presentations from leaders in the medical community discussing the impact that 544 anti-trans laws – and 46 more pending across as many state houses – have had on trans lives, gender-affirming care, and quality health care provision for all Americans.
We will also strategically integrate into the Summit our recently published 2023 LGBTQ+ State Business Climate Index. The index, an up-to-date, deeply researched ranking of LGBTQ+ equality as it relates to work, life, and law in all 50 states, will allow participants to contextualize more fully what they share and hear.
There has never been a more urgent moment for businesses to use their power to improve their bottom line and drive equality. It’s not hyperbole to say that the lives of trans Americans – including trans children – hang in the balance. And businesses are responding. The ones that aren’t will when we have a chance to provide them with guidance and tools. This Summit can help do that by broadcasting the business case for equality, the urgency of this moment, and the opportunity companies have to do more for their employees, communities, and shareholders.
Together, we will once again plant a flag for equality. One that with your support, we will revisit every year until we’ve beaten back the attacks on our trans family, safeguarded the rights they currently have, and won full equality for all LGBTQ+ Americans.
Todd G. Sears
Founder and CEO
Here’s what you need to know this week…
Celebrate Pride with Out Leadership Member Firms and Nonprofit Partners!
Join us on June 22, for an engaging discussion on “The Future of Work for the LGBTQIA+ Workforce” hosted by Mastercard as part of their Pride Month programming. The event will feature a panel discussion with industry experts who will share strategies for ensuring how companies can become and remain an employer of choice for the LGBTQIA+ community while highlighting the importance of community impact. Following the panel, there will be a special performance from DJ Lina, New York’s quintessential DJ. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and gain invaluable insights.
Lesbians Who Tech and Bank of America are proud to announce their collaboration in co-hosting an extraordinary pride event on June 29. The afternoon will include an engaging fireside chat, featuring industry leaders Leanne Pittsford, CEO of Lesbians Who Tech, and Todd Sears, CEO of Out Leadership, and moderated by Nikki Katz, Managing Director & Head of Digital at Bank of America. Following the discussion a networking reception will provide a setting for fostering meaningful connections and furthering collaboration among attendees.
Brian Sims raised over $30k on his AIDS/LifeCycle ride, sponsored by Out Leadership
AIDS/LifeCycle. Pictured left to right: Tom Vosburgh, Hannah Gable, Brian Sims, Alex Drakos, Fiodor Otero, and Ryan Orkisz
AIDS/LifeCycle is a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, co-produced by and benefiting the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, supporting the provision of free HIV/AIDS medical care, testing, and prevention services. The ride also aims to raise awareness to end the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, provide a positive, life-affirming experience for people affected by HIV/AIDS, and honor those who have passed from AIDS-related causes.
“This year’s AIDS/LifeCycle was a first for me and it will certainly not be my last,” said Sims. “Crossing the finish line with my team, after an arduous week-long ride, I couldn’t help but reflect on the transformative power of collective action and the incredible impact that the AIDS/LifeCycle has on raising awareness and funds to combat HIV/AIDS.”
“I was deeply moved by the resilience and camaraderie displayed by the diverse community of riders, volunteers, and supporters, all united in their commitment to eradicating the devastating effects of this epidemic.”
Out Leadership’s newest member, CalPERS is celebrating its pioneering step to advance LGBTQ+ inclusion.
CalPERS, the largest pension fund in the United States, is paving the way for public agencies to embolden their inclusivity efforts by being the first public pension system to join Out Leadership.
Brad Pacheco, the first open LGBTQ+ executive at CalPERS, said leaders recently identified an LGBTQ+ gap in our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) efforts. While the pension fund has historically fostered partnerships with various professional organizations specific to ethnic backgrounds, there was nothing formal in place supporting this group — until now.
“It’s about saying, ‘Yes you belong here, and yes you can have a successful career here,’” said Pacheco, who’s been at CalPERS for 28 years and has served as deputy executive officer for CalPERS Communications & Stakeholder Relations since 2015.
CalPERS and its Investment Office will be better positioned to influence the diversification of corporate boards by having access to a network of LGBTQ+ professionals ready to step up if called upon.
In 67 countries, it’s still illegal to be gay. The Criminal Queerness Festival illuminates the stories of changemakers worldwide.
Pictured left to right: Festival Participants: Daniell Levsky, Andrew Kushnir, Wojtek Rodak
Across the globe, LGBTQ+ artists risk censorship, imprisonment, and violence for simply sharing their truth. This Pride, National Queer Theater’s Criminal Queerness Festival (CQF), an internationally focused theater festival created in partnership with NYC Pride, invites you to honor their bravery and witness works highlighting the queer experience in countries where queer art is criminalized or censored.
This year’s festival focuses on queer artists from Ukraine and Eastern Europe. National Queer Theater is excited to showcase full productions of Danielle Levsky’s War and Play: A Clown Odyssey of Survival and Andrew Kushnir’s The Division as well as Wojtek Rodak’s the cHIMera: A Staged Reading.
This event is FREE and open to the public. The Criminal Queerness Festival will take place in Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium as part of the Summer for the City LGBTQIA+ Pride celebration. Seating and entry are first-come, first-served; the line will form at the Atrium’s entrance on Broadway, between 62nd and 63rd Street.
This Pride Month, all eyes are on India’s journey toward inclusion.
While India has celebrated significant strides forward, such as the 2018 landmark Supreme Court decision to decriminalize consensual same-sex relations, there are nonetheless significant gaps in social acceptance and legal parity. Oral arguments on the right to same-sex marriage before India’s Supreme Court have concluded and a decision is expected in the coming months. The extension of same-sex marriage rights to India’s 1.4 billion people would bring the world’s largest democracy one step closer to realizing LGBTQ+ equality.
While the outlook for same-sex marriage remains hopeful, there is still a great need to advance transgender rights in India. Our friends at Community Business have the insights:
CEO Janet Ledger spoke to India Programme Associate Bhavya Gupta and former India C&T Programme Manager Shankri Silmula about the urgent need to accelerate trans inclusion in India.
Watch this episode to learn more about why we conducted our research and what organizations and individuals can do to push the needle on this topic:
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