5 questions with Ron Ausemus
Ron Ausemus is chairman for the Dallas regional affiliate of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. Ausemus is also treasurer for Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, and a member of the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG. For more information on Out & Equal, go to www.outandequal.org/affilliates/dallas. For more information on the second annual Clock in For Equality, which is May 15, go to www.lambdalegal.org/clockin.
What is Out & Equal Workplace Advocates?
It’s a national nonprofit that started in the mid-’90s when the United Way of San Francisco decided there was a need to establish some guidelines for equality in the workplace for LGBT people and people living with HIV. It started as basically a training session for corporate managers, but it became so popular that companies started asking them to take it on the road. In 2004, it ended up becoming Out &Equal.
How did you get involved?
I had always been involved with the LGBT employee resource group when I worked at Chase in Columbus, Ohio. We took a lot of flak, and there was lot ot of resistance in the beginning, but it had the support of senior management and ended up being very succesful. When I took a job with another company and moved to Dallas about three years ago, I looked for something to get involved with, and Out & Equal was the closest thing.
What does the regional affiliate do?
There are 12 regional affilliates, and Dallas is the largest one. We have 500 people on our e-mail list. We help local employers establish LGBT employee resource groups, and we exchange ideas and best practices. We’ve also expanded in the last year to include a quarterly professional networking event. The first one was on tax inequities faced by members of the LGBT community, and the second one’s coming up June 9.
What’s the subject of the second one?
It’s called God, Gays and the Workplace. Susan Gore, a local author and LGBT activist, is working on a book about issues that arise when you’re trying to respect religion and promote LGBT equality in the same work environment. Her book is scheduled to be released at the end of summer, so we’ll be getting a preview of her book before it’s in print.
I understand you’re also partnering with Youth First Texas.
Yes, we had our first youth picnic last year. Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Chris Heinbaugh, the Dallas mayor’s chief of staff, spoke. The objective was to provide positive role models for LGBT youth. Also, because we have so many members who work in HR, we’re developing a job skills program for youth that will include things like resumes, interviewing and networking. Within the next two months, we’ll be rolling that out.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 9, 2008.