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

Out & Equal Uncorked tonight at Times Ten

Days of wine and more wine

Join Out & Equal for their annual fundraiser and partake in  a variety of Times Ten Cellars wines with cheeses and other appetizers. Live music, prize drawings and a live auction of American Airline tickets will all be part of the event. Proceeds benefit Out & Equal DFW’s mission of achieving a world free of discrimination for everyone.

DEETS: Times Ten Cellars, 6324 Prospect Ave. 6:30 p.m. $35 advance, $40 door. For tickets call Jeffrey Gorczynski at 214-226-6502

—  Rich Lopez

CROSSPOINTS panel to address opportunities, pitfalls of being out at work

Dennis Coleman

The opportunities and pitfalls of being out at work will be discussed at this week’s CROSSPOINTS panel discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 1 at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Equality March Texas is coordinating the six-week series, which will take a break next week for the holiday.

Union organizer Mike Lo Vuolo will moderate this week’s panel discussion.

CROSSPOINTS organizer Latisha McDaniel said five people are tentatively scheduled to be on the panel.

Dennis Coleman from Lambda Legal will offer a legal perspective on what rights people have to be out at work and what rights employers have to discriminate pending passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Laura Martin, LGBT community liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, will give her perspective on being out in an organization with few other out employees.

Binet’s Andi Reis will talk about being an out bisexual.

Louise Young and Rafael McDonnell will talk about Out & Equal employee groups. Young formed the LGBT groups at Texas Instruments and later at Raytheon when they purchased her division from TI. McDonnell is strategic communications and programs manager at Resource Center Dallas.

“There are plenty of pitfalls to being out at work,” said McDaniel. “But I hope they talk about some of the benefits. Being able to concentrate on your work rather than on people finding out about your personal life.”

“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” which McDaniel described as the biggest example of workplace discrimination, will also be discussed.

—  David Taffet