Posted by: outandequal | May 4, 2011

A global conversation

Selisse Berry

Selisse Berry, Founding Executive Director

by Selisse Berry | Over the past couple of weeks, several people have asked what continues to motivate me in my work at Out & Equal. This morning, we had a conversation with people from around the world—the US, Europe, India and Asia—about the ways in which LGBT people can be supported as they come out and as they work in India. Getting to talk with people who are passionate about LGBT workplace equality is what continues to energize me for this work.  We were able to discuss ways in which people are making change where they work and live, in ways that are appropriate for their culture and the needs of their businesses. And that is very exciting.

For almost a decade now, we’ve had international participation at our annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit and that presence has grown every year. Last year, 22 countries were represented at the Summit, including some of our colleagues from India.

We’re very aware that each country and culture has its own perspectives on sexuality and gender and we respect that. At the same time, we also recognize that some of the issues are the same from country to country. Out & Equal has been facilitating calls like the one today in order to help people share what is working around the globe, so no one has to reinvent the wheel in order to advance equality. We are very proud to play a role as conveners of these conversations, providing space for people to talk with each other about the work that they are doing.

We also hear regularly from global companies asking us to help them navigate the waters in their international work. Companies need the flexibility of placing their employees in a wide range of countries, and need to find culturally competent ways to ensure that their LGBT employees can thrive and be safe in other countries. They also need to be able to interact with people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within the cultures they are encountering.

In the past year, we’ve set up an International Advisory Committee to look at ways for Out & Equal to increase the global scope of our work and meet the needs of the international community.   It was amazing this morning to listen to the successes and challenges as people are working to improve the lives of LGBT people in India and around the world and that definitely has me motivated to keep on with this work of ensuring that people everywhere can be both Out and Equal at work.

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