The Metropolitan Club in the Willis Tower was the luxurious setting in which the National LGBT Bar Association honored Elliot Stultzsenior vice president, assistant secretary and deputy general counsel of the Allstate Insurance Companywith its Out and Proud Corporate Counsel Award Feb. 6.
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Stultz leads a team of attorneys and paraprofessionals in providing legal advice and support in connection with Allstate's investment and business transactions. He is also the executive sponsor of the Allstate Network of Gay and Lesbian Employees and Supporters ( ANGLES )the corporation's resource group boasting around 200 members from across the country.
In 2012, the group hosted Judy Shepardmother of Matthew Shepard and LGBT advocateto discuss hate-crimes legislation and its effect on the LGBT community. ANGLES also hosted an event explaining the business impact of the then-impending Supreme Court decision on DOMA. Stultz is also the Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Center on Halsted.
The National LGBT Bar Association is a nationwide alliance of lawyers, law students, judges and legal professionals along with activists and affiliated lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal organizations. According to its website, The LGBT Bar promotes justice in and through the legal profession for the LGBT community in all its diversity.
The Corporate Counsel Award honors legal professionals who advance LGBT equality through words and actions to create more secure and welcoming workplaces. The award is given in partnership with the Association of Corporate Counsel ( ACC )a global bar association promoting the business and professional interests of in-house counsel working for corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations.
"We have a wonderful, symbiotic relationship with the Association of Corporate Counsel," LGBT Bar Association Executive Director D'Arcy Kemnitz said. "We could not do these events without them."
In presenting the award, LGBT Bar Association President-elect Nicole Dogwill said of Stultz, "His passion for equality shines through in his advocacy on behalf of critical issues that impact the LGBT community."
Surrounded by friends and colleagues from Allstate, Stultz joked, "I think anyone who comes to Chicago in February voluntarily probably deserves this award more than I do."
Stultz applauded Allstate for being a company that respects and values differences and embraces diversity and inclusion.
In recalling his personal and professional journey Stultz said he feels fortunate to be living in the United States. "We are fortunate to be living in Illinois," he added. "Where a lot of advances have occurred including same-sex marriage."
Stultz remembered the atmosphere a quarter-century ago when the LGBT Bar Association was founded and he was graduating from law school. "I think one of the biggest challenges then were that there were very few role models," he said. "You couldn't turn on your television set and see LGBT characters. If there were LGBT characters, they weren't lawyers. You didn't hear about openly gay lawyers in the courtroom."
"When a young employee sees you with a seat at the table, when a new attorney sees you participating in the dialogue," Stultz continued, "whether you are aware of it or not, the fact is that you are a role model for them."
"The message that you're sending in that moment is very important," Stultz added. "The message is that there's a place at the table for anyone who is talented and works hard and plays by the rules regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, their race or their religion."
The attorney said that people are not talking enough about LGBT topics. "They are either uncomfortable, or perhaps they don't feel it's appropriate in a business setting," he said. "For whatever reason, these conversations aren't happening."
Stultz considered that to be a lost opportunity to personalize and humanize what might otherwise be confusing, intimidating or alien. He said he hopes safe and trusting relationships will be created between colleagues and friends. "So they can feel comfortable asking questions and engaging in a dialogue about what it means to be LGBT," he said. "They are opportunities for us to educate, inform and to focus on our similarities rather than our differences."
Stultz concluded by encouraging the audience to continue to advance equal rights for all. "Until that has been achieved, not only in the United States but in countries like Russia, Nigeria and Uganda," he said.
Senior Vice President, Assistant Secretary and Deputy General Counsel of the Allstate Insurance Company Eric Stultz.
Senior Vice President, Assistant Secretary and Deputy General Counsel of the Allstate Insurance Company Eric Stultz was surrounded by colleagues and friends from Allstate when he received the LGBT Bar Association's Out and Proud Corporate Counsel Award at the Metropolitan Club in the Willis Tower, February 6
(From L to R) President-elect of the LGBT Bar Association Nicole Dogwill, Senior Vice President, Assistant Secretary and Deputy General Counsel of the Allstate Insurance Company Eric Stultz and Executive Director of the LGBT