In much of America, you can still be fired for being gay. You can be denied government services. You can lose your home. Ensuring our basic civil rights protections is at the heart of the cases that the Supreme Court is hearing this week. Businesses have been a key community that have stood with us in this legal effort. They signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief in record numbers, and they are a key component of the coalition that is pushing to pass the Equality Act.
There is another important way that businesses, and other large employers, are showing up for us. Next week, more than 6,000 people will be coming to Washington, D.C. to take part in the Out & Equal Workplace Summit, the largest gathering of LGBTQ professionals anywhere in the world. These attendees come from 38 countries and represent more than 70% of Fortune 1000 companies. And it’s not just the business sector; five U.S. government agencies are also sponsoring this conference.
Summit is a forum for thought leadership. It brings together a richly diverse group who raise ideas and programs that push the envelope, who give visibility to often ignored identities, and who establish best and next practices. Summit workshops and stages are where the next iteration of LGBTQ workforce inclusion is showcased: The future is pan. It is non-binary. It is unafraid to call out racism. It openly acknowledges the significance of mental health at work.
What started as a small gathering 20 years ago has grown into a powerful testament of the commitment of leaders of large businesses to further equality and belonging. What can explain this meteoric growth?