The Chicagoland Out & Equal's May 1 Citywide Pride Kickoff at the offices of the global law firm Jenner & Block was both a beginning and a goodbye, as outgoing local Out & Equal Chairman Jim Huberty was thanked for his service. Huberty and incoming co-chairs Bernadette Smith and Joshua Wright welcomed about 80 different companies and community organization looking to share ideas and partner with each other on events to perhaps educate their employees about LGBTQ issues.
Huberty described Out & Equal as helping to identify topics to focus on and make partnerships with other organizations, and he encouraged attendees to run any concerns and questions by his organization. Last year Out & Equal put on 14 events in the city and suburbs, and this year's slate of events includes companies like Comcast, Barilla and Northern Trust hosting discussions and presentations on adoption, LGBTQ history and trans issues.
Prior to the kickoff, Out & Equal had sent out a survey of topics that attendees might want to focus on, and the room was set up with six flipboards for participants. Those topics included engagement and intersectionality; sexual orientation, gender identity and expression; business and corporate culture; policies and rights; learning and leadership development; and community involvement and partnership. For about fifteen minutes attendees had the chance to discuss these issues and network with each other before reconvening for some closing words.
Huberty also mentioned needing to fill the local chapter of Out & Equal's Board; they need five more members to be fully staffed at 12. ( Anyone interested in joining can email firstname.lastname@example.org . ) The national organization's new CEO, Erin Uritus, is also potentially visiting Chicago in the fall, and is currently conducting a national listening tour for input about the organization.
The outgoing chair recalled the early days of his career, when he was warned he might lose his job for coming out at First National Bank. "Over the years, the issues have changed, but not our expectations," Huberty said, adding that he still sees inequality.
USG employees Cassandra Nelson and Jodie Arenz attended looking for ideas to bring back totheir company's Pride Leadership Council. While both were hoping for more ideas on best practices when it came to LGBTQ issues, both thought the handouts Out & Equal provided were "fantastic" and a great opportunity to "self-audit" as a company when it came to LGBTQ issues.