As the employee resource group prepares to turn 25, it celebrates equality gained at AT&T and focuses on anti-bullying efforts
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
As Dallas prepares for the arrival of the national Out & Equal Workplace Advocates convention in October, LEAGUE, the LGBT employee resource group at AT&T, is making plans to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
The AT&T group was the original LGBT employee resource group, begun after the first March on Washington in 1987, and is a model that has been recreated since then across corporate America.
LEAGUE held its national convention at the Melrose Hotel in Oak Lawn on Sept. 9, and openly gay Fort Worth City Councilmember Joel Burns spoke at the Saturday night awards program about his “It Gets Better” experience (see story, Page 27). The group is beginning to prepare its own “It Gets Better” materials on behalf of AT&T, and in Burns’ honor, the group made a donation to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.
Several awards were given to Dallas LEAGUE members during the convention last weekend.
National Executive of the Year went to Gary Fraundorfer, vice president of human resources, who was honored for re-evaluating all company HR policies to make sure AT&T’s policies treat LGBT employees equally.
Fraundorfer recently joined the Resource Center Dallas board of directors.
“Awards from employees mean the most because they’ll hold you the most accountable,” he said.
But Fraundorfer wanted LEAGUE members to know just how committed to equality the company is.
“We mean it when we say we want things to be equivalent for spouses and partners,” he said. “The goal is complete parity.”
Among AT&T’s 11 latest initiatives to ensure parity is the addition of gender reassignment surgery to the company insurance plan for the company’s transgender employees.
John Cramer, LEAGUE’s national public affairs director, was among the recipients of a “LEAGUE Cares about Bullying” award. He said that the company has rallied around the group’s anti-bullying efforts.
LEAGUE President Theresa Bates-McLemore said she’s heard from employees across the company thanking her for the group’s anti-bullying efforts.
“I’ve heard heartfelt stories from straight people who said, ‘We didn’t know how to do this,’” Bates-McLemore said.
Cramer said that bullying is not just a gay issue and the LEAGUE campaign is helping employees across the company and others outside of AT&T as well.
The new chapter of the year award went to Puerto Rico.
“They took the League Cares About Bullying initiative to a new level,” Bates-McLemore said.
That chapter created an “It Gets Better” public service campaign with Telemundo.
LEAGUE has 45 chapters across the country with about 750 members. Nationally, the group provides scholarships to at-risk LGBT youth and contributes to the “It Gets Better” campaign and has awarded about $150,000.
Locally, LEAGUE supports the community in Dallas with Black Tie Dinner tables. Team AT&T will participate in the Lone Star Ride. And earlier this year the group made a $5,000 contribution to Resource Center Dallas to support its communications technology needs.
And the group supports its members.
For LEAGUE member Mark Carden from Atlanta, the group has had a much more personal impact. He was already working at AT&T when he came out.
“LEAGUE made me feel more secure about myself and the workplace,” he said. “It helped me grow personally and professionally.”
Look for Cramer, Bates-McLemore and other Dallas LEAGUE members in the parade and at the festival in the park. They’ll ride in an AT&T eco-friendly vehicle down Cedar Springs and give out T-shirts and beads.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.