Posted by: outandequal | November 4, 2011

Creating Greater Inclusion at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit

Kevin Jones

J. Kevin Jones, Jr., Deputy Director

Last week, I was among 2,600 people gathered in Dallas to attend the 2011 Out & Equal Workplace Summit.   It was an exhausting and exhilarating week of reconnecting (usually only briefly) with dear friends, worrying over various production details, and absorbing the overwhelming sights, sounds and energy of the Summit.  Now starts the opportunity to consider the event in retrospect – the wild successes and the clear opportunities to make improvements.

One aspect of the Summit experience important to me is our ability to be inclusive.  Looking at the program, we had some great successes in portraying the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community on the main event stage, at our ticketed luncheons, and throughout our featured panels and workshops, thanks in many respects to the work of our advisory committees.   We had more workshops and panels focused on bisexuality than ever before.  Members of our community – including allies – living with disabilities were very visible this year.  And we continued to see strong program participation from our transgender and people of color advisory committees.  All reasons for me to smile.

Nevertheless,  looking across the attendees,  parts of our community remain disproportionately under-represented.  Out & Equal is committed to change that and will need help to do so.  By design, the Out & Equal Workplace Summit primarily targets a largely corporate audience (plus federal employees).   Attendees often are sponsored to participate in the Summit based on their involvement in their employee resource groups, and ERGs often also struggle to engage employees who publicly identify as bisexual or transgender or who come from communities of color.  Challenging ourselves to be inclusive effectively is an issue that deserves attention – and it is one of my personal goals to make 2012 the year where the entire Out & Equal community begins to meet the challenge of being more inclusive ourselves.

If this is something that resonates with you – let me know.  I welcome your ideas and participation.

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Responses

  1. Kevin, the world of Black Gospel music is filled with people in denial or in hiding about their own status, and fundamentalists who condemn them. Sad for me!–Patty (SJE)

  2. We had a presentation last week about the 2011 summit from the 2 members of the Marietta PRIDE group at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Marietta that went to the summit. You are so right about the attendance was supported (paid for) by the Diversity organization and had places for only 2 individuals from Marietta. I put my name into the draw and I am trans identified. The lottery resulted in a lesbian and a gay person attending. (luck of the draw).

    It was disconcerting to see that only 24 people in attendance identitfed as trans. If you subtract the trans committee members that were probably in attendance, that left about 16 or so general populace trans identified people in attendance. That is less than 1% of the people in attendance at the summit.

    With so much focus on transsexuals and ts transition in the workplace, there does not seem to be much education on the larger ttrans population that also has workplace issues. I guess I need to put together an education seminar for next year for other parts of the gender non-binary-conforming population.


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