LGBT executives gather in London for workplace summit

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martina

Martina Navratilova at the Out & Equal summit. – PHOTO: Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

Hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender executives and their allies gathered in London this week to focus on advancing equality in the workplace.

The Out & Equal 2012 Global LGBT Workplace Summit took place July 5-6 in the capital already bustling with preparations for the Olympics and celebrating gay Pride.

A press statement said executives represented more than 26 countries and more than 80 operations at the event at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel. About 350 people attended.

Their goal was to share best practices and discuss how to make LGBT people feel safe, accepted and valued. The event featured a gala, speeches and workshops.

Out & Equal’s founding executive director Selisse Berry, said, LGBT people want to “love who we love,” sharing her conviction that, “love is stronger than prejudice, love is stronger than injustice, and love is stronger than inequality.”

IBM vice president Claudia Brind-Woody spoke at the event, introducing Harry van Dorenmalen, chairman of IBM Europe.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova attended and talked about the power of being out.

“The biggest thing we can do is to be out. When we make it personal, it’s harder for people to be prejudiced,” she said.

“Silence,” she continued, “equals consent ... go home, and come out to your preacher, come out to your teachers, come out to those at your post office. No one ever wants to go back into the closet once they’re out.”

LGBT Capital founder Paul Thompson spoke about LGBT buying power and the growing global LGBT market.

Judy Dlugacz of Olivia talked about the ongoing struggle for equality: “Just because we get our rights does not mean that homophobia is gone ... culture doesn’t shift as quickly as the laws may.”

The event ended with a gala that included an awards program and a speech by former NBA basketball player John Amaechi. He said, “The tiny things that we do in our workplace are the most important in reaching our goals. A pathway is illuminated before you, where you believed none existed before.”

On the Web: www.outandequal.org

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