by Stanley Ellicott | What an exciting first day at the 2012 Out & Equal Global LGBT Workplace Summit. The morning general session opened with remarks from Out & Equal’s Founding Executive Director Selisse Berry who reminded attendees that at the heart of our campaign for equality is the truth that LGBT people want to “love who we love,” sharing her conviction that, “love is stronger than prejudice, love is stronger than injustice, and love is stronger than inequality.”
of IBM addressed attendees, intertwining her personal story, with that of IBM’s efforts to expand equality globally, “We’ve got to bring the power of our brands together to change hearts, minds and wills.” Claudia also welcomed Harry van Dorenmalen
, Chairman of IBM Europe, who elaborated on IBM’s work to advance LGBT equality. He reminded attendees that “the personal is powerful… when you are genuine and sincere, you can have a powerful impact,” and urged attendees to “go back to your home village, where you were born, and tell your story.”
Liz Bingham, Managing Partner for People, Ernst & Young, took to the stage, “[Workplace equality] is a business imperative. The more engaged your people are, and the stronger your brand, the better you’ll do in the market.”
Dawn Nicholson, Special Commentator, spoke with tennis legend and activist Martina Navratilova about her experience of being openly lesbian. “It all came together– being out, training, getting a coach– and then I just started beating everybody. I had some pretty good years there.” When asked what the LGBT community can do to raise the bar on equality, Martina commented, “Out & Equal does its part in educating people. The biggest thing we can do is to be out. When we make it personal, it’s harder for people be prejudiced.” Martina pressed on, “Silence equals consent…go home, and come out to your preacher, come out to your teachers, come out to those at your post office. No one ever wants to go back into the closet once they’re out.”
The afternoon luncheon
, sponsored by Deutsche Bank. included remarks from LGBT Capital founder, Paul Thompson
who described the size and scope of the growing global LGBT market and buying power.
BBC correspondent Jane Hill led an outstanding panel on how business visibility – through employment practices, advertising, and community engagement impact LGBT issues globally. Sharon Fraser of Deloitte commented that, “Diversity and inclusion is an absolute business imperative for us.” Judy Dlugacz of Olivia rounded out the conversation, “…just because we get our rights does not mean that homophobia is gone…culture doesn’t shift as quickly as the laws may,” highlighting that changing policy is only one hurdle on the road to equality for LGBT people.
Tomorrow will start off with a General Session
featuring Out & Equal Founding Executive Director Selisse Berry; followed by Vladi Luxuria, Former MP, Italy; and Michael Cashman, MEP, Chair of the UK Labour Party’s National Executive Committee.
The Summit will conclude with a fabulous Gala Dinner
emceed by Simon Fanshawe. We’ll hear from John Amaechi, former NBA basketball star and best-selling author, and enjoy music from The Pink Singers, Europe’s long established lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) choir.