A year of LGBTQ+ Advocacy in the Business World
On January 15, 2020 last year I joined Out Leadership after 20 years of public service. As 2020 (finally) comes to an end, I take stock of progress and achievements. While the pandemic derailed many of our plans, thanks to the agility of Out Leadership team, I was able to accomplish some of my goals in bridging the LGBTQ+ experience and the corporate world. I also had the great pleasure to spend more time with my 7 year old sons as most of it happened from my home while the twins were out of school. Here are some 2020 highlights:
Quorum: getting LGBTQ+ represented on corporate Boards. That is a piece I am truly excited about with incredible developments in 2020 such as passing AB979 in California, NASDAQ new listing Board requirements or Goldman Sachs IPO announcement. We placed the Quorum Board reporting guidelines on the map of corporate secretaries of major corporations. We reignited conversations with top tier candidates through Quorum newsletter and individual outreaches. We developed a vision to provide value to candidates and Boards through partnerships with KPMG, Ropes & Gray, Equilar, Diligent and Eghon Zender (with more in the pipeline). I also approached the US House Financial Committee to ensure OL is considered as the expert on LGBTQ+ representation on Corporate Boards.
Out Leadership Talent Summits: OL pivoted quickly to online as soon as the pandemic hit. I moderated sessions in our various summits: US (Neurodivergence, Quorum), Europe (Poland), Asia (Navigating the LGBTQ journey through Singapore, China, India), Australia (the LGBTQ+ aboriginal experience, LGBTQ+ families, closing session), OutNext (Trans inclusion), ProudlyResilient and breakout rooms. We brought in some of the most accomplished business leaders and activists from around the globe in this conversation.
Support to Out Leadership 80+ member companies: I spoke at Microsoft Pride 2020, on India with Nomura, Shearman Sterling, the Pride events of LVMH and Blackstone, moderated a Ropes & Gray event on attitudes in Asia, the Pride Month fireside chat at Morgan Stanley and Nomura. I provided advice on wording, pronouns and policies to D&I team in many of our member companies.
Global Pulse and Equality Imperative: bringing LGBTQ+ activist voices to the private sector. I recorded interviews with Parmesh Shahani, LGBTQ+ migrants and CSOs, Lee Badgett, Igor Suran, Andrew Reynolds and many other LGBTQ activists such as Frederic Martel on Sodoma, Mathew Shurka of Born Perfect, Michael Adams of SAGE, Evie Litwok on decriminalization, Sean Strub on HIV, John Tanzella on Tourism, Trevor Project and Family Council, David Mixner, Urvashi Vaid, Graeme Reid and Maria Sjodin on Welcome to Chechnya and Tamara Adrian.
Small Group Conversations on salient issues. I organized behind closed doors conversation on the US administration transition with Government Affairs teams, on LGBTQ+ equality in the Middle East or private sector response in Poland with activists and business partners.
Relationship with LGBTQ+ non-profits. We provided support to organizations such as the Tanenbaum Center (Board Members), Immigration Equality (Board Members), TransNewYork (Speakers’ Bureau), International Peace Institute (Corporate Giving Program), the NYC LGBT Center (Real Estate Firms). I represented OL at the GEF, David Mixner’s Victory Institute Tribute, the SCOTUS coalition briefing calls.
Written articles. I published more than 50 pieces on Out Leadership Insights with the most recent being on : our transition memo efforts, why neurodivergence is also an LGBTQ+ topic, the SCOTUS unfortunate Statement on Marriage Equality, the Pope’s recent comments on LGBTQ+ families, the Coming Out experience, the Polish situation, the impact of Covid19, the community’s response to BLM, the status of “freedom of religion” bills or the SCOTUS decision along with interviews on Brazil, Spain, Mauritius or Argentina. We also penned Forbes pieces such as on the passing of AB979, the SCOTUS Title VII decision and the related NGLCC press release.
Outside speaking engagements: I recorded keynotes for Czech Pride Business Forum, Coming Out in Tech, East Meets West, Global Compact Australia, SMU in Dallas, Accenture, Sanofi, the World Economic Forum, Richemont, the East Meets West Conference, the Hellenic Republic Pride event, India “Queering the Quarantine” . I was interviewed by our friends at OutBuro,and PinkMedia on Corporate Social Responsibility and LGBTQ+ issues.
Philanthropy. · Throughout 2020 I volunteered on the Boards of Outright Action International, Housing Works, Fondation Emergence (Canada), Alturi, the KindRED Pride Foundation, Witness to Mass Incarceration, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and the Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA). I was an active member of “The Collective”, a group of leaders dedicated to initiating and accelerating action for, and within, the LGBTQIA+ community as well as the Gill Foundation OutGivers. I offsetted my 2020 individual annual carbon offset with a donation to the CarbonFund in February 2020. Since January 2020, I donated $17,000 to non-profits including Outright Action International, Witness to Mass Incarceration, Big Apple Performance Arts, Immigration Equality, Trevor Project, Housing Works, ICWA, Short Mountain Sanctuary/Radical Faerie, Born Perfect, Alturi, Human Rights Campaign, Kindred Foundation, American University, the Victory Institute, Carbon Fund, SAGE, Milford Covid19 Fund, Interfaith Center, Athlete Ally and EJI. I also raised money and donations from companies such as P&G or Verizon for these non-profits.
2021 should be an easier year to advance #LGBTQ equality for multiple reasons. With a bit of luck, my sons might even be able to return to school at some point. But with or without the twins at home, I look forward to continuing focusing on elevating LGBTQ+ professionals to the C-suite and Corporate Boards and to build stronger connections between the Business World and LGBTQ equality.