Out & Equal opens with leadership day

Out & EqualThe Out & Equal Workplace Summit opened on Monday with Leadership Day with all-day intensive conferences that a number of executives attended.

Out & Equal is a national organization that works with employee resource groups at corporations and in government to achieve equality in the workplace. It’s annual national convention takes place at the Hilton Anatole Oct. 6-8. Some attendees arrived early for Leadership Day, a one-day intensive workshop.

At one Monday workshop, corporate executives from around the world discussed finding biases within yourself and unconscious biases among colleagues in the workplace. Most of the companies represented already ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. So the exercises were about identifying hidden biases and how to address them.

What’s unique about Out & Equal is it brings together executives from many competing companies that rarely share ideas. However, more than 3,000 people will be attending this week’s conference to share ideas on achieving diversity and making a diverse workplace successful.

—  David Taffet

Volunteer hosts needed for Out & Equal Night Out

shuttleOrganizers of the annual Out & Equal Summit, which is returning to Dallas Oct. 6-8, are looking for volunteers to help with the event’s Night Out on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Night Out starts around 5 p.m. on the Cedar Springs Strip, and Texas Instruments will be running chartered shuttle buses from the host hotel, the Hilton Anatole, to the Strip, and they are looking for volunteer “hosts” to ride the shuttles to welcome guests and answer questions about options for dining, shopping and nightlife on the Strip. The shuttles will run til about 11 p.m.

Anyone interested in volunteering should send their name, the times they are available and a mobile phone number to Paul von Wupperfield at pavw@ti.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Out & Equal to host panel on being out at work Thursday at Sue Ellen’s

bookcoverdraftAnyone who has wondered what it would be like to work at a place where diversity is respected and being out at work is just an everyday way of life may be interested in Out & Equal’s Firsthand Accounts of Workplace Leaders.

Out & Equal DFW’s chair Jeffrey Gorczynski will moderate a panel of executives at Sue Ellen’s on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Selisse Berry is founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, the national organization of LGBT employee resource groups. She’s also the editor of the new book Out & Equal at Work: From Closet to Corner Office. In a video on the Out & Equal website, she said she wanted people to know they are valuable and not alone.

Kayla Shell, executive legal director at Dell, and Bobby Wilkinson, assistant vice president for USAA Financial Services, will appear on the panel.

Also among the speakers will be Louise Young, one of the founders of the employee resource group movement. Young helped organize an ERG at Texas Instruments and when her division was sold to Raytheon, changed that company’s policies and began the ERG there.

When speaking about how Raytheon embraced diversity at other  events, she said the company wouldn’t benefit by increasing sales of bombs or missiles by implementing a nondiscrimination policy or offering domestic partner benefits to employees. The only reason they implemented the changes was to retain and attract the best employees.

Sue Ellen’s Vixin Lounge, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

Watch a preview of the new book Out & Equal at Work: From Closet to Corner Office below.

—  David Taffet

Out & Equal event to raise funds for workplace summit scholarship

image001Out & Equal Dallas-Fort Worth will be raising money for its Evelyn Caldwell Scholarship Fund at an event at Times Ten Cellars on Thursday. The scholarship is named after an officer of Out & Equal who passed away in 2011.

“It’s to send some to the Out & Equal Workplace Summit representing Dallas,” said Out & Equal DFW President Jeffrey Gorczynski. “And bring those lessons back for the local community.”

This year’s summit will be held in Minneapolis on Oct. 29-31.

Gorczynski said there will be food, a wine bar and DJ. The $40 donation can be paid by cash or check at the door.

Times Ten Cellars, 6324 Prospect Ave. Aug. 22 from 6-8 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Out & Equal to discuss Bringing Your Partner’s Picture to Work at Sue Ellen’s

Today is Out & Equal’s Bring Your Partner’s Picture to Work Day.

Out & Equal is the national workplace equality organization made up of employee resource groups and individuals who work in a corporate environment.

“We believe that if you want to live in a world where you can bring your partner’s picture to work, it’s time to bring your partner’s picture to work,” Out & Equal wrote in their release.

After work, head over to Sue Ellen’s and meet upstairs in the Vixin Lounge to share your experience from 5:30–7:30 p.m.

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit takes place in Baltimore at the city’s convention center beginning Monday. Online registration is closed but attendees may still register at the conference.

Last year’s Summit took place at the Anatole in Dallas and was so successful the organization would like to return. But negotiations right now reportedly are stalled on Mayor Mike Rawlings’ refusal to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage. The convention brought millions of dollars to the city.

This year’s conference schedule is here.

—  David Taffet

Out & Equal to honor Parker, Welts

Mayor Annise Parker

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates will honor Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts at its Leadership Celebration on March 14 in San Francisco.

In October, Out & Equal held its week-long Workplace Summit at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Because of rave reviews, the group plans to return in the next few years. Welts was among the speakers at the Dallas convention.

Now in its fifth year, the Leadership Celebration is a fundraising event that includes a hosted reception and dinner. Parker and Welts will be recognized as role models and inspirations in the movement to achieve equality in the workforce.

To attend the San Francisco event, register online.

The 2012 Workplace Summit will be in Baltimore on from Oct. 29-Nov 1.

—  David Taffet

OUT & EQUAL: By the numbers

Northrup Grumman CEO Wes Bush announcing a $20,000 gift to Youth First Texas. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit held Oct. 22-25 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel broke records.

Justin Tanis, director of communications for the organization, reported that 2,623 people registered for the conference, which was a record. Participants came from 30 countries.

“The summit overall raised $2.5 million,” Tanis said.

That total includes corporate sponsorships, registrations, merchandise sales and auctions.

At the Thursday night gala, live and silent auctions raised $74,660 that will benefit the Out & Equal Scholarship Fund for LGBT students. In addition, Northrup Grumman gave Youth First Texas a check for $20,000.

According to Cordey Lash, Hilton Anatole’s senior sales manager — multicultural, the conference had a $3 million impact on the hotel. That number includes just under 6,000 room-nights sold, as well as food and beverage sales.

Because the hotel was sold out for three nights of the conference, the impact to Dallas was even greater. Three surrounding hotels also sold hundreds of additional room-nights.

Thursday night’s gala attracted 2,800 people, one of the largest seated dinners at the hotel since the Black Tie Dinner moved from the hotel.

“It was one of the most impactful conferences of the year,” Lash said.

—  David Taffet

OUT & EQUAL: What I DIDN’T learn this week

Out & Equal Executive Director Selisse Berry

I asked a few simple questions at this week’s Out & Equal conference. That’s what I do. I like to break news in the Dallas Voice. After all, I’m covering this event and the New York Times isn’t.

So I asked Barbara Spotts, at the Out & Equal conference representing NASA, if she could tell me when the first manned mission to Mars would take place. She couldn’t tell me.

Neither could David Morse, also with NASA.

“Just one scoop. Anything,” I said.

“Wish I had one for you,” he said.

And FOR Michael Barber with the CIA, a few simple questions.

He’s here to dispel myths. One of my favorite is that “everyone drives a sports car with machine guns in the tailpipes.” He assured me that he didn’t, but wouldn’t reveal to me where he does hide the machine guns in his sports car.

And he couldn’t tell me, even off the record, the CIA’s budget or who’s the next dictator we plan to bump off. Off the record! Sheesh. I wouldn’t tell. I’d just say that I knew.

And when I approached people from Chevron, I told them I write for Dallas Voice and said, “So, say something nasty about ExxonMobil.”

I wasn’t expecting them to be so gracious. This is big business. One of the people I spoke to manages a $220 million project. His project is bigger than most companies. Bigger than the economy of some countries. I expected cut-throat. Mean and nasty. This is big business.

I didn’t expect, “We want them to get their benefits too.”

See what happens when gay people get into upper management in business. People turn … well, downright nice.

I did learn that the LGBT employee group at American Airlines is even larger than the more than 50 volunteers they had at the conference. Gay people at American Airlines? Who knew? One confided that there may even be some gay people at Southwest Airlines as well.

I spent time trying to understand the thinking behind one of the week’s awards but couldn’t find a good reason that Houston won “affiliate of the year” honor. At least not until I spoke to Paul von Wupperfeld.

Out & Equal spokeswoman April Hawkins told me that Houston had an active group with more than 80 companies participating. OK, I thought, staring blankly, shaking my head. She said there are lots of activities sponsored by the Houston affiliate. OK, I’m listening. They’re growing rapidly. They’re active with the national group. I’m still not convinced.

Von Wupperfeld, who heads the Dallas affiliate finally explained: “Dallas won last year. We won the first award.”

OK, so Houston is second. Hawkins should have just said that in the first place.

Click here for more pictures of the conference.

—  David Taffet

Out & Equal Workplace Summit

photos by David Taffet

—  David Taffet

OUT & EQUAL: Welcome to Dallas

American Airlines sponsored Out & Equal registration

More than 2,500 people have already registered for the Out & Equal Workplace Summit taking place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel this week. As many as 3,000 people may participate, according to Out & Equal’s April Hawkins. In the opening plenary, a number of executives from companies around the country talked about workplace equality.

A welcome video shown at the opening plenary session included executives from companies around the country welcoming participants with messages such as, “So much energy is wasted if you’re not out at work,” and “We all win when we bring our best selves to work everyday.”

Accenture Group Chief Executive Sander van ’t Noordende said he has been out at work since joining the company 24 years ago. Soon after joining the company, he attended a reception with his partner.

“Timing and tone are extremely important,” he said.

He said that a big difference today is that after someone is hired, they go to the website, click on the LGBT group and they’re hooked in with the network of LGBT employees.

He said that gaining equality is a process and his company is working on transgender benefits. At Accenture, 600 employees self-identify as transgender, he said.

And to lighten up the opening session, Candis Cayne, the first transgender actress to to have a recurring role on a primetime network series (Dirty, Sexy Money), spoke and entertained.

Out & Equal Workplace summit continues through Friday.

—  David Taffet