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Baim guest speaker at CME/HRC event
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

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Chicago Reader Publisher and Windy City Times owner Tracy Baim was the featured speaker at a Dec. 10 CME Group LGBTQ PRIDE Employee Group/Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Chicago at Cantina Laredo restaurant.

CME Group Corporate Communications Director and PRIDE Employee Group President Matthew Stroud and HRC Chicago Steering Committee member Celeste Wright spearheaded this event.

Stroud and CME Group Executive Director of Finance Sam Coady welcomed the crowd, with Coady speaking about knowing Baim for about 35 years and that they worked together on the 2006 Gay Games when the event came to Chicago. He said the 2006 Gay Games garnered more than 300 corporate sponsor,s including CME Group.

"Tracy has been at the forefront of seeing the LGBT movement in all of its forms," said Coady.

Baim's remarks focused on the role of corporations within the LGBT movement and how that is taken for granted by some in the community. She said that, at times, corporations would be open to LGBT inclusion but then backtrack when outside forces threatened them. Baim spoke about the early adopters, like entertainment companies and alcohol brands, that began to advertise in LGBT media through Rivendell Media.

Also, Baim spoke about co-founding the Chicago LGBT Chamber of Commerce in 1996 and the survey they gave to Chicago-based businesses, adding that this survey was similar to the one HRC used for its Corporate Equality Index ( CEI ) when it was created years later. Baim said corporations also need to dig deeper and look at how they are impacting not only the LGBT community, but also people with disabilities and communities of color with their business practices.

Baim switched gears to focus specifically on the 2006 Chicago Gay Games, including a primer on the history of the event and its founder, Dr. Tom Waddell, and the role she and other organizers played in getting corporate sponsors. She spoke about some of the roadblocks they experienced as well as Kraft's $25,000 grant to the Games. Baim read a letter from then Kraft Foods Inc. Executive Vice President, Corporate Counsel and Corporate Secretary Marc Firestone sent to all employees in 2005 about why the company decided to award the grant to the Gay Games.

During the Q&A session, one person asked how corporations can give back to LGBT organizations that need it the most. Baim suggested they look into the ones based on the South and West sides of Chicago, such as Affinity Community Services, ALMA and Brave Space Alliance among the dozen that are a high priority for funding needs.

Lastly, HRC Chicago Corporate Engagement Co-chair Dru Holmquist welcomed HRC Chicago Board of Governors and Steering Committee member Bonnie Johnson. Johnson said when HRC started the CEI in 2002, there were not a lot of companies willing to fill out the survey—as opposed to today, when 87 percent of Fortune 500 companies participated in the 2019 survey.

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