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Gap Inc., Marriott International, Inc. Are ‘Open to All’



Gap Inc. and Marriott International, Inc. announced they are signing the Open to All Business Pledge and urged other business leaders across the nation to add their voices and their businesses to declare that they are Open to All regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion or disability. There are over 2,300 Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, and Intermix stores in the country, spanning all 50 states. Marriott International, Inc. encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,700 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 130 countries and territories.

Marriott International Inc. and Gap Inc. join Yelp, Levi Strauss & Co., Lyft, as well as more than 1,500 small businesses and 200 nonprofits, in partnering with Open to All, the public education campaign focused on the longstanding principles that affirm when a business opens its doors to the public, it should be open to everyone on the same terms. To welcome all customers, Gap Inc. stores will also feature the Open to All window cling in select stores across America.

“Since our founding nearly 50 years ago, our company values have led the way we run our business. Together, our brands celebrate equality for all in our workplaces and communities globally. Not only does this foster inclusivity, creativity and contribute to a more just world, it also helps us be more competitive in the marketplace and better serve our customers. We’re proud to join the Open to All coalition and stand with other businesses to welcome all customers to our brands,” said Art Peck, president and chief executive officer at Gap Inc.

Gap Inc. will also post Open to All signs at its headquarter buildings in San Francisco, New York and Albuquerque, as well as at its distribution centers in California, Ohio, Tennessee and New York. The company has approximately 135,000 employees around the world.

“Gap Inc. and Marriott have demonstrated a deep commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equality,” said Calla Rongerude, campaign manager of Open to All. “In a time when many people of color, LGBT people, people of minority faiths, and many others still can’t be sure they won’t be discriminated against when they seek goods or services, it is more important than ever for businesses to affirm inclusive values.”

A new poll shows that most Americans support businesses like Gap Inc. and Marriott that are Open to All. The Harris Poll®, conducted in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, finds that 75% of Americans believe when a business opens their door to the public, they should be open to all and serve everyone on the same terms. The poll also found that a vast majority of Americans agree that businesses should not be allowed to deny services to people based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin (87%), sex (87%), sexual orientation (81%), gender identity (80%), religion (85%), or disability (88%).

Open to All is one of the most significant public education efforts to date that unites and galvanizes national leaders in business, civic engagement, and the non-profit sector to take a stand for shared American values of fairness and equality.

In addition to the over 1,500 business members, Open to All includes more than 200 nonprofit members spanning civil rights and racial justice organizations; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) equality organizations; health and disability organizations; faith organizations; and more. Open to All members are committed to building awareness and understanding about the importance of nondiscrimination—and to defend the bedrock principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open to All.

Open to All was originally launched in November 2017. Initially, the campaign was focused on strengthening support for nondiscrimination amid oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Open to All’s business engagement initiative represents a dramatic expansion of that effort, encouraging businesses large and small across the country to publicly and visibly declare that they support nondiscrimination and that they are open to all.

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Transgender Americans Still Face Workplace Discrimination Despite Some Progress

While US companies have made significant strides in creating workplaces that are more inclusive of transgender individuals, discrimination and employment penalties remain.



This article is republished from The Conversation under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license. Read the original article.

Activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20 to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost due to trans prejudice and hatred.

In that spirit of reflection, the day serves as an opportune time to examine how the opportunities and experiences of transgender individuals in the workplace have changed – particularly at a time when some government officials are openly advocating policies that discriminate against them.

I’ve been researching diversity and inclusion in a variety of settings including sports and work for nearly two decades. The good news is that my work and that of my peers shows transgender individuals have made significant strides in the workplace. The bad news is that many hurdles remain to equal opportunity and an end to discrimination.


Various indicators and signs point to meaningful improvements in the access, treatment and opportunities for transgender employees.

One such indicator is the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, an annual assessment of policies and benefits for LGBT individuals in Fortune 500 companies. In 2002, only 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies had nondiscrimination polices based on gender identity. That figure was 83 percent in the most recent report, which came out in 2018.

Human Rights Campaign 2016 Corporate Equality Index Best Places to Work Reception / photo credit: Ted Eytan / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The report also shows that most Fortune 500 companies now include transgender-inclusive medical benefits. In 2002, no companies offered such provisions.

Another measure of how much things have changed is in the willingness of corporate giants and their CEOs to oppose policies that discriminate against trandsgender individuals.

A recent example is when President Donald Trump said he would seek to legally define gender as immutably male or female. Coca-Cola, Apple, JP Morgan Chase and dozens of other major U.S. companies swiftly signaled their opposition.

Another is the backlash that has followed legislative efforts to limit the rights of transgender individuals to use pubic restrooms. North Carolina, for example, was estimated to lose US$3.76 billion over a dozen years after companies nixed plans to build facilities in the state or canceled concerts because of the “bathroom bill” lawmakers passed. They later repealed it.

My own research with a colleague shows why corporate America is taking a stand: Most consumers value inclusiveness. Participants in a study we conducted in 2014 interpreted LGBT-inclusive statements by organizations as a signal that the company valued all forms of diversity. As a result, the consumers’ attraction to the organization increased.


Despite the progress, hurdles still exist, impeding full trans inclusion in the workplace.

A study I conducted with another colleague in 2017, for example, showed that, although attitudes toward transgender individuals have improved over time, they still lag behind perceptions toward lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals.

Legal scholars from UCLA’s Williams Institute have shown that transgender people earn less and are more likely to be unemployed than their cisgender peers – whose gender corresponds to their birth sex. In fact, in 2011, one in seven transgender individuals earned $10,000 or less a year, while the unemployment rate for trans people of color was nearly four times the national rate.

For those who are employed, they routinely face discrimination. In another study out of the Williams Institute, state law and policy director Christy Mallory and colleagues found that more than one in four reported being fired, passed over for promotion or not being hired in the past year because of their gender identity and expression.

Others are aware of the mistreatment. In a survey of Texans – a state where employment discrimination against transgender individuals is legal – 79 percent of the respondents agreed that LGBT individuals face workplace discrimination.

Texans are not alone. According to the Movement Advancement Project, an organization whose mission is to promote equality for all, 48 percent of LGBT individuals live in states lacking employment protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.


The evidence suggests transgender individuals have made progress in the workplace, but they still face considerable barriers. What, then, can employers do to create more inclusive environments?

Legal protections are key. Organizational psychologists Laura Barron and Michelle Hebl have shown that the presence of anti-discrimination ordinances and laws decrease bias in employment decision making. Absent federal protections, states and cities can ensure all people have employment protections, irrespective of their gender identity and expression.

Organizational leaders also make a difference. My research shows that leader advocacy and role modeling are critical when creating and sustaining an inclusion culture. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, has a history of strongly advocating for LGBT rights. It is little wonder, then, that Apple is routinely listed among the most LGBT-friendly companies.

The Apple contingent in the 2014 Austin Pride Parade / photo credit: Chase Martin / therepubliq

Finally, co-workers play an important role, especially when they serve as allies. These are persons who advocate for transgender equality in the workplace and try to create welcoming, inclusive spaces. Allies seek to create social change, leading the charge at times and supporting their transgender colleagues in other instances.

Transgender inclusion helps all involved. Employee engagement and performance improves, as does their psychological and physical health. Diverse and inclusive organizations outperform their peers on objective measures of success, such as stock market performance.

Thus, the path forward – one that clears the hurdles in place and creates an inclusive environment – is one that can benefit everyone.

Disclosure: Texas A&M University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US. A complete list of partners and funders can be viewed here.

The Conversation is an independent, nonprofit publisher of commentary and analysis, authored by academics and edited by journalists for the general public.

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Out Leadership Rings the Nasdaq Opening Bell



Out Leadership, the global LGBT+ business network, rang the Nasdaq stock market opening bell on Friday, November 2, 2018. The ceremony celebrated Out Leadership’s instrumental impact in making LGBT+ equality a priority in global C-suites, and the progress its executive events and talent initiatives have made towards inspiring Out Leaders and global companies to grow their businesses through inclusion.

Todd Sears (center) was joined by members of Out Leadership’s senior leadership team and representatives from member companies / photo credit: Out Leadership / Facebook

“When I started this company, it was rare to see a CEO discussing LGBT+ equality as an issue that affected how they did business. In the last 8 years, we’ve engaged more than 400 global CEOs in our work, helping them realize the immense positive business impacts of inclusion. In many ways, ringing the opening bell is symbolic of the immense progress we’ve made in establishing LGBT+ equality as a guiding principle for many of our world’s most influential companies. As we ring the opening bell, we are grateful to the many companies and leaders who’ve helped us get here. And we are also reminded of how much potential remains locked behind closet doors. Our commitment to driving LGBT+ equality forward, in every kind of company, and in every region of the world, is stronger than ever before,” said Todd Sears, Founder and Principal, Out Leadership.

Todd Sears was joined by members of Out Leadership’s senior leadership team, representatives from Out Leadership’s member companies include members of its Leadership Committees, and other supporters.

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Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce presents 2018 Business of Pride Awards



2018 Business of Pride Awards. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Originally conceived at the 10th anniversary of what was then known at the Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the Business of Pride Awards celebrated leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied business community working to create a more diverse and prosperous Central Texas. The group, now known as the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, continued this tradition this past Saturday evening with PROUD!, its annual Austin LGBT Business Awards Gala, in the ballroom of the newly opened The LINE Austin Hotel in downtown Austin overlooking Lady Bird Lake and the Congress Avenue Bridge.

PROUD! 2018 emcees KVUE anchor Quita Culpepper (left) and Spectrum News Austin meteorologist and ALGBTCC board member Rich Segal (right). Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Emmceed by Spectrum News Austin meteorologist and ALGBTCC board member Rich Segal along with KVUE anchor Quita Culpepper, this year’s event also featured Dr. Sarah Weddington, the attorney who argued Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court, as the keynote speaker.

PROUD! gala keynote speaker Dr. Sarah Weddington. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce


Quita Culpepper presenting Todd Hogan the 2018 Business of the Year Award. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Formerly the Business of the Year award, the Business Person of the Year award is now given to the LGBTQ business person that has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to their organization, as well as the ALGBTCC and the LGBTQ and allied business community. Previous winners of the former Business of the Year award include The Staging Guy (2017) and The Great Outdoors (2016).

Winner: Todd Hogan

Your verifiable jack-of-all-trades, Todd Hogan has worked in media marketing in sales in Austin for over a decade and has been a lifelong, active supporter of the nonprofit community working side by side many well known names in Austin including Broadway in Austin, KMFA Classical Music, Zachary Scott Theatre. Todd has been an executive for top media companies including Clear Channel Communications, Infinity Broadcasting, Border Media, and Univision where he has a track record of success in creating unique, results-oriented marketing solutions for multiple radio brands and their clients

Other nominees:

  • Stefanie Collins, Attorney at Law
  • Mia Parton, Aeparmia Engineering / Women’s Alliance for Leadership
  • Carlos Rivero, El Chile Group
  • Rodney Stoutenger, Native Edge Landscaping


2018 Rising Star Award winner Mia Parton. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

The chamber debuted its Rising Star Award, given to an LGBTQ business professional or entrepreneur under 35 who has demonstrated serious business acumen, and an innovative drive that has benefited their organization and the LGBTQ community.

Winner: Mia Parton

An accomplished engineer by trade, Mia Parton was appointed by the Austin City Council to serve on the Water and Wastewater Commission. She has been actively involved in the Central and North Texas areas as an advocate for the LGBTQ Community. In 2010, Mia founded Women’s Alliance for Leadership (WAL), a statewide non-profit organization that is dedicated to empowering LGBTQ women in Texas by offering accessible leadership workshops, awarding scholarships and honoring women leaders in the community. Mia embraces her diverse background as Muslim, Middle-Eastern/Asian, and lesbian.

Other nominees:

  • Cambriae Bates, AIDS Services of Austin
  • Juan Benitez, The Q Austin / ME. I AM JUAN.
  • Nicole Conger, Attorney at Law
  • Tarik Daniels, Author


Stefanie Collins at the 2016 Austin PRIDE Festival. Photo credit: Stefanie Collins, Attorney at Law /

Presented to an LGBTQ or allied business owner and member of the Austin LGBT Chamber, the Member of the Year awardee has shown innovation in their business practices resulting in the advancement of their organization and advances the mission, goals and purpose of the ALGBTCC resulting in a positive impact for the LGBTQ business community. Previous recipients include Art Diva Creative (2017) and The Fowler Law Firm (2016).

Winner: Stefanie Collins

A fervent advocate of the LGBT community as a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer, Stefanie Collins specializes on representing those who are marginalized and stigmatized by the criminal justice system.

Other nominees:

  • Alfred’s Catering
  • Cynergy Data Texas
  • Nicole Conger, Attorney at Law
  • Mia Parton, Aeparmia Engineering / Women’s Alliance for Leadership


Texas Health Action Treasurer Christopher Adams (left), CEO Christopher Hamilton (center) and Kind Clinic Executive Director Joe McAdams (right) accepting the 2018 Ceci Gratias Guardian Award. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Formerly the Nonprofit of the Year award, the Ceci Gratias Guardian Award was renamed to honor the chamber’s first President and CEO — Ceci Gratias — and is given to an individual or non-profit organization that exemplifies Ceci’s spirit in giving tirelessly in order to positively affect the health, happiness and general welfare of those in the Central Texas LGBTQ community. Former winners of the Non-Profit of the Year award include Leap to Success (2017) and Austin PRIDE (2016).

Winner: Texas Health Action

Texas Health Action supports programs and sexual health clinics with an emphasis on HIV prevention. It’s signature program, KIND Clinic is a full service sexual health and wellness clinic dedicated to the treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including access to the HIV prevention treatment, PrEP and PEP, as well as gender care services.

Other nominees:

  • AIDS Services of Austin
  • Austin Baptist Women
  • Out Youth
  • Courtney Santana, singer-songwriter / Survive2Thrive
  • Chuck Smith, Equality Texas


Starbuck’s Pride Alliance Network marching in the Austin PRIDE parade. Photo credit: Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Also debuting this year, the Corporate Ally Award is given to a corporate partner who has shown exemplary support to the Central Texas LGBTQ business community and the chamber.

Winner: Starbucks

Other nominees:

  • Apple
  • RSM
  • Indeed
  • Wells Fargo


2018 Ambassador of the Year award winner Paola Aguillon. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Selected by the veteran members of the Ambassador Committee, since taking the reins Paola Aguillon has shown persistence, accountability and class working to increase the value of the Ambassador Program and thereby the value of the Chamber to its members. Previous recipients of the Ambassador of the Year award include Stephanie Emory (2017) and Becky Clark (2016).


Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Chase Kincannon (left), 2018 Jimmy Flannigan Award winner Shannon Mantrom (center) and Austin City Council member for District 6 Jimmy Flannigan (right). Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Named after its first recipient, former ALGBTCC board chair and current Austin City Council member, the Jimmy Flannigan Leadership Award has been given to a chamber board or staff member that has demonstrated outstanding achievement, unwavering dedication and service to the chamber and Austin’s LGBTQ community. Previous winners of the chamber’s leadership award include former board chair Amy Cook (2017) and the current board chair Chase Kincannon (2016).

Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Chase Kincannon introducing the 2018 Jimmy Flannigan Award winner as the award namesake Austin City Council member and former ALGBTCC board chair Jimmy Flannigan (right) looks on. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

“I met this board member some years ago during a Pride event, and somehow duped her into the idea that board service was both easy and fun,” said Kincannon when introducing the recipient. “During the early days of the Ambassador program, there was always one board member that I could count on to be there to help me cut that damn rainbow ribbon. Her hand was always up when it came time in a board meeting to determine who would show up early, stay late, or spearhead a project (that Pride float was the tits). She revitalized and recreated the Agenda from scratch. She has always been my number one supporter and bulldog when needed to whip volunteers into shape or otherwise make sure things got done.

“But more importantly, this person is the epitomic example of acceptance, kindness, inclusion, and community building. Tonight we give the Jimmy Flannigan award, for the first time, to a straight ally. I hope this award and its recipient continue to inspire our Chamber, our community, and our city to work together and love one another, no matter our differences.

“I’m proud to give the 2018 Jimmy Flannigan Award to my friend, Shannon Mantrom.”


The event also served as a fundraiser for the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Foundation, providing educational grants to deserving LGBTQ residents of the Austin metro area. These scholarships help any LGBTQ person of any age to develop skills and become more successful. This year’s recipients were Jamika Shivers and Joshua Sanchez. Shivers is working towards a degree in social work with the ultimate goal of opening a health clinic for LGBTQ youth, while Sanchez is working towards a Masters in Special Education.

2018 Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Foundation scholarship recipients Jamika Shivers and Joshua Sanchez accepting their educational grants. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

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