Executive Pride

Advancing Workplace Equality

Our Kudos This Week Goes to Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner & The Trump Administration

By Travis Kelso-Turner

Originally published on Medium.com

Despite many Twitter rants about VP Pence from the LGBTQ community, and some very concerning quotes and headlines coming from the new Trump administration that impact the gay community — we at Executive Pride see a ray of hope and are looking to rise above the noise by giving kudos to Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and the Trump administration for doing the right thing for the LGBTQ community, despite pressure from right wing.

It is very encouraging that the Trump administration is upholding the LGBTQ workplace protections, despite some intense political pressure to reverse the Executive Order. Our community has been very concerned, and confused, about future actions and next steps given the conflicting and chaotic messaging on this issue. Our network of business professionals are committed to working with the new administration, and everyone that cares about making LGBTQ workplace equality a reality. This statement of clarity is very welcoming and is a great way to end the week! It is my hope that this will energize our network to work towards positive change, regardless of political party affiliation. Doing what is right is always cause for celebration and deserves thanks and praise.

We at Executive Pride wanted to acknowledge - and praise - Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and the Trump administration for dismissing the anti-LGBT executive order and ensuring that inclusion and equality continues to be a reality for the LGBTQ community — in the workplace and beyond.

Want to ensure equality and inclusion in the workplace and beyond? Travis Kelso-Turner, Executive Director of Executive Pride, would like to drive people to take the pledge, become a member of Executive Pride (at no cost) and make “Pride Inside” in every American workplace a reality!

- Travis Kelso-Turner, Executive Director at Executive Pride

Featured: How Marc Benioff Unknowingly Inspired Our LGBTQ Non-Profit to Pivot Our Focus & Launch the “Pride Inside” Movement

By Travis Kelso-Turner

Originally published on Medium.com

For well over a year, I have watched in awe as Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, unapologetically wielded his business clout to unwaveringly support LGBTQ equality and challenge those trying to legislate hate. In 2015, Marc expressed his outrage over Indiana’s legislation in support of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which would have empowered businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Instead of just relying on the limited impact of his words, Marc put the full force of his business influence and network behind an effort to change the law. He started by recruiting 70 powerful executives, many from the tech community, to sign a joint statement condemning the law.

But he didn’t just check the box and stop there.

Marc went full throttle by announcing plans to cancel all Salesforce initiatives that required employees and/or customers to travel to Indiana. His tweet announcing this plan was retweeted almost 10,000 times and ignited a much-needed conversation across America from boardrooms to little league fields. When Indiana Governor Mike Pence didn’t back down, Marc amped up his voice by declaring Salesforce would offer relocation packages to Salesforce employees who wanted to leave the state. After a week of unrelenting backlash that threatened the economic stability of Indiana, Pence caved and approved a revision of the law that clearly banned businesses from discriminating against a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

That was just the beginning of Marc’s crusade for LGBTQ equality. This year, Marc again activated his network of high-powered business titans and successfully forced the Governor of Georgia to veto a religious freedom bill that would have discriminated against LGBTQ people. Marc then pressured the Governor of North Carolina to rethink his support of a bill that invalidates city level non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ citizens, and this summer he helped connect 68 companies to assist the DOJ in taking NC to court for their stance on transgender bathrooms. It was this effort that earned the most attention from the media, legislators and other opinion leaders, in part because of the enormous economic impact these businesses have on the state. Marc’s mindset is that businesses must advocate on behalf of their employees and stakeholders to take a stance against everything that is considered non-inclusive and discriminatory.

I have watched for years as GLAAD has focused on driving LGBTQ acceptance and HRC focused on basic equality. Together, both organizations have positively moved the needle in these two important areas for the LGBTQ community. However, progress has at times been slow, which should not be viewed as a negative against GLAAD or HRC. I admire both of these organizations and the Herculean effort they make every second of every minute, of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year. They are warriors who deserve epic respect.

Having said that, seeing Marc Benioff move the equality needle so profoundly in a matter of days catalyzed an epiphany for me. It became crystal clear that businesses and business leaders have an unmatched ability to unite and ignite LGBTQ equality in an unprecedented manner and timeframe. The thing is: Leaders like Marc have day jobs. We need a full court press on this effort around the clock. My epiphany inspired us to change the focus of our LGBTQ non-profit organization, Executive Pride.

To date, Executive Pride had been initially focused on LGBTQ mentoring programs in business, but quite frankly, that simply wasn’t going to be enough of sustainable impact. We needed Executive Pride solely focused on creating a powerful network of companies, business leaders and employees, to unify and amplify the voice for LGBTQ equal rights in business and beyond. Although LGBTQ equality still doesn’t exist in America, businesses are in a uniquely influential position to act as a catalyst for positive change.

Inspired by Marc Benioff’s actions, today Executive Pride, the LGBTQ workplace equality organization, launches our “Pride Inside” initiative, to harness the collective power of the business community to ensure LGBTQ equality in the workplace and beyond. Pride Inside is a multifaceted initiative — media, social media, mentoring, etc. — focused on creating uncompromising LGBTQ equality in the workplace, while holding communities and other stakeholders accountable to ensure equality exists everywhere in America. We are essentially stepping in to carry the torch Marc and others have been carrying, with the intent to lead the directive.

Thanks to a generous donor, Executive Pride is not looking to raise any funds at this time. Instead, we simply want to get businesses and business leaders to add their name to our list of vocal supporters who will have zero tolerance for LGBTQ inequality within their workforce, and within any and all communities where they do business. Let us all carry Marc Benioff’s torch and keep the “Pride Inside” flame burning brightly in the workplace and beyond.

On behalf of the LGBTQ community I want to extend a booming “thank you” to Marc and all the business leaders who have stood by his side when it comes to battling legislative hate and ensuring equal rights absolutely, unequivocally never has an asterisk next to it.

If you are a business executive who would like to join the Pride Inside movement, please add your name to our membership list.

— Travis Kelso-Turner, Executive Director at Executive Pride

A Shout Out for National Give OUT Day

According to the Horizon Foundation’s research, not even 5% of LGBT people give financial support to LGBT non-profit organizations. Give Out Day is a 24-hour period dedicated to donating money to specifically LGBT non-profits.

After the Orlando shooting at Pulse Night Club, Executive Pride was one of the largest donors to the Orlando Victim Relief Fund, a time when family and friends in the Orlando area were in need of immediate support. Give Out Day is a time for us to remember that LGBT organizations are always in need of financial support, not just in times of tragedy. Executive Pride, a network of corporate executives advocating for LGBT rights in the workforce, backs LGBT organizations in times of tragedy and everyday support.

The LGBT community, and friends, should remember that we are fighting for a place to feel safe and equal 365 days a year. Take some time today to explore the hundreds of small, medium and large LGBT organizations that provide safety, comfort and support to our community all year.

Round of Applause For Skittles

The members of Executive Pride give Skittles a heartfelt round of applause for so boldly supporting the LGBT community from a corporate standpoint. The need for the best and brightest business leaders in America to step up and promote tolerance and inclusion in the workplace and at public events is urgent.

Executive Pride's mission aligns directly with Skittle's message of putting a focus on LGBT community inclusion and tolerance. It is profoundly inspiring that a main stream corporate brand that focuses on consumer fun has stepped up to provide serious public support of LGBT equality with a very meaningful symbol of their brand and our community. Very tastefully done by a sweet company with a heavy dose of humanity.

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