Posted by: stepgould | June 23, 2011

Insights from Ally Empowerment Tour

Stephen Gould

Stephen Gould, Associate Director of NETWORKS!

by Stephen Gould | Earlier this month, I reflected on how corporate participation in annual Pride events is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to moving LGBT awareness and equality forward.  This week, I am on the road for our Ally Empowerment Tour – and I am reminded of the depth of this everyday commitment.  I am reminded that personal stories and values are reflected in corporate policies and values – for the better.

First, we were in Dallas.  For me, a highlight of that event was the panel of straight executive allies based there in Dallas.  They shared their pride in how far their companies have come with inclusive policies and practices, as well as their personal and organizational commitment to improve upon these efforts.  Throughout, they all emphasized that a truly inclusive corporate culture is paramount to achieving success as a company – a culture that must acknowledges and embraces LGBT employees as well.  As allies, they all believe it is important that they are visible and keep LGBT inclusion in the conversation at all levels of the company.

Even more compelling than the observations and lessons they shared about their own companies were the personal stories they each offered up.  Whether straight or LGBT, each of us has a story about why we care about equality for this community.  Whether humorous or poignant, the sincerity – sometimes with emotion just beneath the surface – of one’s personal story always makes an impression on me.  In today’s panel, as I have often noticed before, I noted how workplaces are often the space where these impressions are made – whether one’s first exposure to an LGBT person, or the “aha!” moment.  After all, as one panelist noted, work is where we spend 8 hours of nearly every day with each other.

I want to thank everyone that made this stop happen, particularly Paul von Wupperfeld and our entire Out & Equal Dallas-Fort Worth council, Dr. David Hall, and our panelists, Melendy Lovett of Texas Instruments, Manny Ferdnandez of JCPenney and Paula Adkison of McKesson. Thanks too to our three sponsors: Texas Instruments, Sodexo and McKesson for making this event possible.

We’re now off to Atlanta today, and in the midst of Dr. Hall’s Empowering Allies seminar.  I look forward to sharing more insights from today.

The Ally Empowerment Tour continues this summer, with stops in Houston, Chicago and Anaheim,California.  Dr. David M. Hall, author of the book “Allies at Work” will offer an intensive seminar on Ally Empowerment, which will be followed by remarks on the state of the movement from Out & Equal’s executive director, Selisse Berry, and executive allies as well.

For more into or to sign up, go to www.outandequal.org/allies-at-work.

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