Out & Equal

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Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Founded 1996
Founder Selisse Berry
Type Nonprofit Advocacy Organization
Focus LGBT Workplace Discrimination
Method Training, Advocacy and Programs
Key people
Selisse Berry (Founder/Executive Director)
Slogan Shaping the Future of Global LGBT Workplace Equality and Inclusion
Website www.outandequal.org

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates (commonly known as "Out & Equal") is a United States lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workplace equality non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Out & Equal describes its organizational vision as, “To achieve workplace equality for all regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, or characteristics .” Out & Equal provides training and resources to LGBT employees and corporations alike through advocacy, training programs and events.[1]

Out & Equal achieved 501(c)(3) status in 2004.


Out & Equal's mission is to “educate and empower organizations, human resource professionals, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and individual employees through programs and services that result in equal policies, opportunities, practices, and benefits in the workplace regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, or characteristics”.[1]


Out & Equal's founder, Selisse Berry, was hired in December 1996 by the United Way of the Bay Area as director of the Building Bridges[2] training program.[3] The Building Bridges program developed partnerships with fellow LGBT organizations around the Bay Area. Berry ran the program and built coalitions as a single-person staff working out of the Pacific Center in Berkeley, California, and by September 1997 she moved into the United Way Bay Area (UWBA) offices in San Francisco.

Out & Equal at San Francisco Pride 2010
Out & Equal at San Francisco Pride 2010.

By 1998, three LGBT workplace organizations merged in an effort to effectively collaborate on their common mission of creating safe and affirming workplaces for LGBT individuals—called the Pride Collaborative. These organizations included Building Bridges, A Group of Groups (AGOG), and Progress.

In 1999 The Pride Collaborative merged with COLLEAGUES, a national organization that sponsored the annual Out & Equal Conference aimed at human resource professionals and LGBT employees, to form Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, and the current organizational structure was born. That same year, Progress’s Leadership Summit and COLLEAGUES’ Out & Equal Conference combined resources to produce the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit, one of the keystone programs of the organization.

In January 2004, after years of being supported by the United Way of the Bay Area, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates became an independent 501 [c] 3 organization.[3] Out & Equal is headquartered in San Francisco's Financial District and in 2015 announced the opening of a second office in Washington, DC.


Workplace Summit[edit]

Comedian Kate Clinton hosts Out & Equal’s Outies
Kate Clinton hosts ‘’The Outies’’

Out & Equal annually holds a training and networking event called the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in rotating locations around the United States. The Workplace Summit hosts thousands of LGBT employees, human resource professionals and organizational representatives each year for a few days of training and networking. The Workplace Summit includes an award ceremony aimed at recognizing leaders in LGBT workplace equality called The Outies.

Out & Equal’s Workplace Summit is considered to be appropriate for federal training in compliance with 5 U.S.C. Chapter 41. As proclaimed by Human Resources Director John Berry on August 6, 2010, the Out & Equal Workplace Summit is open to all federal employees.[4]

Year Workplace Summit Location
1999 Atlanta, GA
2000 Seattle, WA
2001 Northern KY
2002 Orlando, FL
2003 Minneapolis, MN
2004 Tempe, AZ
2005 Denver, CO
2006 Chicago, IL
2007 Washington, DC
2008 Austin, TX
2009 Orlando, FL
2010 Los Angeles, CA
2011 Dallas Fort Worth, TX
2012 Baltimore, MD
2013 Minneapolis, MN
2014 San Francisco, CA
2015 Dallas, TX
2016 Orlando, FL
2017 Philadelphia, PA

Global LGBT Workplace Summit[edit]

In 2012 Out & Equal held their first international Summit in London. This dynamic event brought together people from around the world to consider ways to build greater equality in the workplace for LGBT people and allies. Attendees came together to share best practices, engage with colleagues from around the world, and strengthen the diversity of global workplaces. Tennis champion Martina Navratilova, IBM Europe Chairman Harry van Dorenmalen, and organizational consultant John Amaechi were among the speakers at the Global LGBT Workplace Summit. The conference featured 24 workshops covering a broad range of topics focused on LGBT workplace issues around the world.

 Out & Equal at Workplace Summit
Out & Equal in Dallas, TX

Executive Forum[edit]

The Executive Forum is an annual meeting of executive leaders in a multi-day conference to “learn from one another and share best practices.” The first Executive Forum was held in 2008 in San Francisco but have been held in countries all over the US.[5]

Momentum Gala[edit]

The Momentum Gala is Out & Equal's annual celebration and gala dinner held in San Francisco which honors prominent activists in the LGBT movement, organizations dedicated to diversity and inclusion in their workplace, and features LGBT entertainers and inspirational speakers.


Out & Equal offers diversity training, educational resources and consulting services to senior management, human resource professionals, employee resource groups and individual employees to promote LGBT workplace equality. Out & Equal training programs include “Train the Trainer,” “Building Bridges,” “LGBT Diversity Training,” and “Transgender Intensive.”

The Out & Equal Town Call speaker series feature of monthly telephone conference calls with guest speakers discussing LGBT workplace topics. Each call includes a presentation followed by a question and answer session in a one-hour time frame. Town Calls are free for the public and are built to fit into a regular workday.

Regional Affiliates[edit]

Out & Equal is supported by many Regional Affiliates throughout the United States composed of local volunteers from partnered companies. These Regional Affiliates provide knowledge, training and networking[6] to local LGBT professionals.

Out & Equal Regional Affiliates
Atlanta, GA
Chicago, IL
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
Houston, TX
Kansas City
Metro New York, NY
Finger Lakes, NY
Greater Philadelphia
Greater Portland/Southwest Washington
Rocky Mountain
San Francisco Bay Area
Southern California
St. Louis
Tampa Bay, FL
Washington, D.C

LGBT CareerLink[edit]

Out & Equal’s Workplace Summit Out & Equal’s Workplace Summit

Out & Equal's LGBTCareerLink[7] was launched in November 2008 and serves as a job search engine and professional networking website, designed to expand members’ career-building networks by connecting them to other job seekers as well as employment recruiters. LGBTCareerLink allows users to upload job ads, articles and tips, as well as other career-building resources .

Workplace Policies[edit]


As a workplace equality advocacy organization, Out & Equal has publicly supported the passage of ENDA . Out & Equal has issued public statements urging constituents to contact their United States House Representatives to proceed with the passage of ENDA. During San Francisco Pride Parades, Out & Equal has provided signage to parade participants displaying support for ENDA.


Considering the military a workplace, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates took an early stance against Don't Ask, Don't Tell policies. In February 2008, Selisse Berry wrote in an open letter to Congress and Nancy Pelosi stating, "We believe that in these times of international crisis (and at all times), the military has a duty to recruit and retain the most qualified people, foster genuine teamwork, and set an example that ALL American citizens matter. We believe that Congress has a moral obligation to repeal policies that have prevented the military from achieving these goals."

Marriage Equality[edit]

Leading up the 2015 SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates was one of 379 employer organizations that signed on to an amicus curiae brief[8] which urged the High Court to consider the burdens imposed on both employers and employees by a fractured legal landscape with no uniform rule on same-sex marriage.

Out & Equal's “Business Case for Marriage Equality” was penned in 2010 and remains a critical tenant of the organization’s overall work.


In light of national outcry for immigration reform, Out & Equal joined a coalition of LGBT organizations around the United States in a public statement to support the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which protects the rights of same-sex couples during the immigration process into the United States. In a partnership with organizations including The Council for Global Equality and Human Rights Watch, Out & Equal publicly stated that, “An estimated 17,000 young children are being raised by LGBT parents in binational families and those children face the very real possibility of losing a parent, or leaving the only country they have ever called home.”


In response to public backlash to Target Corporation’s large political donation to anti-gay Republican politician Tom Emmer, Target Corporation publicly called upon the Corporation’s continued financial sponsorship of Out & Equal’s Workplace Summit. Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel emphasized Target’s relationship with Out & Equal in order to demonstrate the company’s commitment to LGBT Workplace equality.

 Out & Equal at Workplace Summit
Out & Equal at Workplace Summit.

Stanford University lists Out & Equal as the leading organization for LGBT graduates to turn to for job placement advice.

In 2010, Out & Equal launched a series of editorials called "Communities in Common"[9] written by diverse members of the LGBT community in order to recognize and celebrate the roles of other communities within the struggle for equality.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

On October 8, 2010 Out & Equal was recognized by GLSEN for outstanding leadership in LGBT rights at the GLSEN Respect Awards in Los Angeles, California.

In 2016, Selisse Berry, Founder of Out & Equal, was presented the Bonham Centre Award from The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto, for her contributions to the advancement and education of issues around sexual identification.[10]

Related Organizations[edit]

Out & Equal partners with a variety of organizations to promote LGBT workplace equality. To date, some key partners include Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, International Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Human Rights Campaign, Linkage, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Out for Work, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Council for Global Equality, United ENDA, ENDA Now, NCTE, Immigration Equality and ReachOutUSA.

 Workplace Summit Attendees
Workplace Summit Attendees.

Out & Equal also partners with gay media organizations including Diversity Inc.


In 2013, Out & Equal published its second book, "Out & Equal at Work: From Closet to Corner Office".[11] Out & Equal at Work is an anthology of personal narratives from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) executives and straight ally workplace leaders who have ushered in policies that affirm and support the LGBT community in their workplaces.[12]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]