Big in Japan, 2021

A year of LGBTQ+ Advocacy in review

Looking back at our work with the private sector in 2021

Two weeks ago, I wrote a summary of the progress Out Leadership fostered on LGBTQ+ representation on corporate boards globally this year (see it here: A comprehensive review of 2021: LGBTQ+ representation in the boardroom: While demand for LGBTQ+ candidates stagnated, other indicators turned full green: a good sign for 2022). This is a key priority for our organization.

Before closing 2021, I also looked back on our work leveraging the power of the private sector for LGBTQ+ equality.

Let me preface this summary by acknowledging the tragic loss of two key people in our movement this year: key Out Leadership’s ally Monica Boll and gun-control and LGBTQ+ activist Mark Glaze (see NYTimes eulogy). They devoted their life to fight prejudice and we will not forget them.

Here are some key highlights from our work in 2021:

Thank you for reading! Global Pulse on Equality newsletter. This year, we published the #GlobalPulse newsletter highlighting development at the intersection of LGBTQ+ and business for a continuous 40 weeks every Wednesday at 12 p.m. sharp (almost). I am grateful you took the time to reads it (if you are no subscribed, shame on you, here is the link) and your encouraging feedback — it keeps me going:

  • “This is a great resource. I am a fan”, Victor Madrigal (UNSOGIE Independent Expert)
  • “ […] Smart and funny. Really well done”, Jessica Stern (US Special Envoy)
  • I look forward to getting these updates from you. They’re great!”, Antonio Hernandez (Amazon)
  • “…This is “must read” material for me each week..” Richard Taylor (NASDAQ)
  • “I follow with great pleasure your weekly newsletter….” Fabrizio Petri (Italy Special Envoy)
  • “Just a quick note to say I really love these round ups, they are so well put together and useful.” Nikki Symmons (PMI)
  • “Thanks Fabrice — appreciate this format.”, Brad Sears (Gill Foundation)
  • “Thank you always for these important new digests!”, Thomas Nichols (COO, Arcus)

The most LGBTQ+-friendly US Administration in history: engaging the US Government. We reached out to the Biden administration with a transition memo. We shared expression of support for crucial LGBTQ+ talent appointments at Treasury, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. We participated in a briefing for the department of Commerce, organized by our friends at the Council for Global Equality and organized one for Treasury in June 2021. I joined the surreal the Biden inauguration in January 2021 (see Who attended President Biden’s inauguration?, NYTimes) . At the Congress level, we engaged the Equality Caucus repeatedly and supported Rep Ritchie Torres’ H.R. 1443 on Access to credit for LGBTQ+-owned businesses which passed (see press release by Rep. Torres). We hosted civil society organizations for a roundtable on the response to the plethora of anti-trans bills at the state level in April 2021. We organized with the Human Rights Campaign a meeting with businesses not yet part of the Business coalition for the Equality act. At the local level, we testified in front of the California legislature, specifically on supplier diversity. We build close ties with the House Financial Services Committee leading to Todd Sears’ testimony in front of the Diversity & Inclusion subcommittee (watch the testimony on C-Span).

Foreign Government and multilateral Engagement. We reached out to the President of Kosovo regarding the new civil code and same-sex marriage (Letter to Her Excellency Vjosa Osmani) and the Ministry of Interior in Ghana on the arbitrary arrest of 21 LGBTQ+ activities (Letter to The Honorable Ambrose Dery). We met with the Foreign Minister of Kosovo opening the way for possible opportunities in Eastern Europe. We supported the Liberal-Democrats in rolling out their “Protect our Twins” campaign at the local level in Poland. We encouraged our companies to join LLAN’s Viewpoint on marriage equality in Japan. We also launched our new CEO Country Briefs. We are working closely with both the UK Special Envoy (Lord Nick Herbert) and the Special LGBTQ+ business envoy (Iain Anderson) for private sector engagement. As a result, we joined them at 10 Downing street to brainstorm on the private sector component of the #SafeToBeMe conference. We also supported the Asian Development Safeguards review (drafting of the safeguards, guiding Treasury and moderating an IDAHOT event at ADB with Professors Lee Badgett and Kaushik Basu). In the context of the “Doing Business” China controversy, I was interviewed on Al Jazeera by our friend Steve Clemons and stressed the relevance of LGBTQ+ equality to competitiveness. Finally, I welcomed the appointment of the new Italian Special Envoy, Fabrizio Petri.

Global Pulse for Equality Events. In addition to regular Out Leadership programming as part of OutNext, OutWomen or ProudlyResilient summits we hosted events in Italy with Parks & Diversity (March 2021), trans issues in August (Europe and Feminism, March 2021), small group conversation on the Middle East. We held a webinar on inclusive language.

Editorial Content. On Insights, Out Leadership’s content platform, we published regular posts on Inclusive language, Free Speech, IDAHOBIT, H.R. 1443, the passing of Patrick O’Connell, and interviews with leaders such as Alexander Dmitrenko (Japan), Julie Tarney, Amarildo Fecanji (Balkans/Turkey), Ashley Brundage (and her new book), Igor Suran (Italy) Pink Washing, the Equality Act, the price tag for corporate “LGBTQ+ friendliness”?, ESG conversation: from words to action, LGBTQ+ equality indexes, an Interview with Anjali Rimi, California supplier diversity in public contracting, An Interview with Karen DeJarnette, business rankings, Beware the Wrath of the LGBTQ+ activist, the NASDAQ proposal/listing rule, the issue of Gay priests and witch hunts in the Church (Catholics must set up a fund for Gay priests), the sociological aspects of LGBTQ+ movements. We looked at cancel culture: the woke left and empathy. We published interviews online such as Faith, Spirituality and LGBTQ+ people: an interview with Fr. James Martin, June, 30 2021. We launched a whitepaper on LGBTQ+ visibility at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. We contributed to articles on topics such as crypto-currency (“Can Blockchain Safeguard the Rights of At-Risk LGBT People?”) or impact investing . I joined the L’Oréal Global D&I Advisory Board and continued serving on the Women’s Forum Editorial Board. I recorded the keynote speech for the Czech Pride Business Forum (see article). We held a session in India at Rise 2021 by Pride Circle with Stonewall UK (May 2021) and at the 7th International East meets West Conference on June 17th. We provided the Keynote, Diversity Week, UNC MBA program, October 2021, the Keynote, RISE Event, India, 2021 and Spoke in front of Prof. Andrew Reynolds’ Princeton Identity and Representation class. I represented Out Leadership on the Advisory Board of the Columbia University Trans Employment research project and the Global Equality Fund Partners Forum. On IDAHOBIT, we held an event at the Institute for Current World Affairs (ICWA) titled LGBTQ+ activism and Africa | ICWA, May 2021 with Ambassador Rufus Gifford (US chief of Protocol since last week) as an introductory speaker. I set up and fundraised $50K for the David Mixner ICWA Fellowship. For Pride, I contributed to a WWD article on progress in the Fashion industry. For Copenhagen 2021, we joined Odyssey for Equality, L’Autre Cercle’s project on the future of inclusive workplaces and were featured on a Human Rights Conference session (see WorldPride Copenhagen 2021 ends on a high note). I provided keynote remarks on “the unsustainable gap” at IE for Equality LGBT+@Work Conference “Success in the face of adversity”, Madrid, Spain July 5th, 2021. I received awards: Fellowship of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA ), the East Meets West You Will Never Walk Alone award (thank you Pavel/Ludo), was featured on the cover of DiverCity magazine and was named by Attitude Magazine, one of 101 LGBTQ trailblazers changing the world in January 2021. I also joined the Impact Guild. We launched three OL campaigns on social media (Out Leadership celebrates LGBTQ+ families on Instagram, Return to the Office in September and trans activists) featuring key activists and allies in the community.

Supporting Out Leadership members. We also held discussions with PWC on Poland (Jan Pasionek), Nomura on India, Brown Brothers Harriman on Poland, Twilio on Central and Eastern Europe, Alix Partners on Board representation (May 2021), P&G on dress codes, HSBC on signing up to the UN Standards and HSBC on impact investing and ESG. In May, 2021 I spoke at the P&G Gable Conference in Latin America and the P&G Fem Care event (June 2021), Visa Pride CEMEA (June 2021), the MSCI Pride RoundTable (Local Pride Chapters — Challenges and Successes, May 2021), the GLG Pride Series (June 2021), DLA Piper talk (August 2021), Citi (September 2021), PIMCO, Reed Smith (PRISM Fireside chat, November 2021).

Volunteering with the community. At Out Leadership, we believe that grassroots movement are the ones that trigger social change. I enjoyed volunteering in our community in 2021: Board Member of Trans New York, NYC (Secretary), Board Member of Housing Works, NYC, Board Member of Outright Action International, NYC, Board of Trustee of The Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA), Washington DC, Board of Witness to Mass Incarceration (WMI), NYC (President), Board Member of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), (Treasurer), Member of the Impact Guild, Sponsor of the ICWA David Mixner writing fellowship, Executive Advisory Council of the KindRED Pride Foundation, Orlando and Executive Board of Alturi, Los Angeles, Member of the Women’s Forum Editorial Committee and Member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Inclusive Governance Center.

Thank you for all your support this year. I could not do any of this work without you. I look forward to contribute to our joint accomplishments in 2022.



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Fabrice Houdart

Fabrice Houdart

Fabrice is on the Board of Outright Action International. Previously he was an officer at the UN Human Rights Office and World Bank