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.