On Monday, AT&T hosted HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Team in Dallas, Texas, for the inaugural Corporate Equality Index (CEI) Awards - West. The celebratory night was held to honor the 2017 Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality with representatives from the largest group of 100 percent rated companies in the CEI's history.
As lawmakers in Texas seek to roll back and undermine LGBTQ rights, the night offered shining examples of how the business community has embraced equality, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s a win-win for businesses and their employees.
Scott Sapperstein, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs at AT&T and HRC Business Advisory Council co-chair, kicked off the event, followed by opening remarks from AT&T's SVP, Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer Corey Anthony. Anthony recounted the AT&T’s trailblazing history of adopting LGBTQ-inclusive policies as far back as the 1970s through its current stature as a global leader for equality.
HRC’s Mary Beth Maxwell, Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training, highlighted the urgent need of HRC’s coalition work on immigration and racial justice in this current environment.
“For many of us, these are hard times – the daily news and assaults on decency can overwhelm,” she said. “But hard times call for staying grounded in our core values – for resilience, for brave action and hope – and this evening I choose to be as hopeful and determined as I have ever been – in no small part because of you.”
Beck Bailey, Deputy Director of Employee Engagement for the Workplace Equality Program highlighted the crucial impact that business voices have had in the ever-evolving landscape of equality across the U.S., including in Texas, where nearly 70 businesses made public their opposition to Texas’ SB6, an anti-transgender bill similar to North Carolina’s HB2 law. The businesses, along with several Texas Chambers of Commerce, signed a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker of the House Joe Straus and other lawmakers, voicing their opposition to this discriminatory proposal. The letter was organized by the Texas Association of Business, with the support of HRC, as part of its “Keep Texas Open for Business” project.
Lou Weaver, HRC Board of Governor and Equality Texas Transgender Programs Coordinator shared from his personal and professional experience as an out, transgender man and LGBTQ advocate in Texas. Weaver elevated the critical need for businesses to have a welcoming and supportive environment not only within their four walls, but to stand as examples in the communities where employees live and send their kids to school.
Lastly, Deena Fidas, Director of the Workplace Equality discussed HRC's new program, Equidad MX: Workplace Equality in Mexico. Equidad MX partners, Fernando Velazquez, Founder FV Consulting, and Francisco Robledo, Founder of Alliance for Diversity & Workplace Inclusion, spoke about the global impact of businesses support of LGBTQ workplace equality
Equidad MX: Global Workplace Equality Program, is a groundbreaking new program that works to promote LGBTQ workplace inclusion throughout Mexico. The effort comes amidst historic progress for LGBTQ equality in Mexico by bringing together HRC and advocates on the ground to educate and mobilize the country’s business community in support of LGBTQ workers and consumers.
Thank you to all of our partners in LGBTQ workplace inclusion for making the 2017 CEI the most successful yet and for continuing to champion equality in the year ahead.