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OutServe Magazine | October 23, 2014

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OutServe Wins an Outie

OutServe Wins an Outie
David Small

Baltimore, Md. — OutServe is the best LGBT employee resource group according to Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, who recognized the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel at its gala here tonight with an “Outie.”

The Out & Equal Workplace Awards — known as the “Outies” — recognize individuals and organizations who are leaders in advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in workplaces across the world.

The award recognizes a particular ERG, sometimes referred to as a business group or network, with an exemplary track record of leadership in advocating for LGBT equal rights over the past year. Other finalists for were ERGs from IBM Canada, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo.

“It’s an honor to accept this award on behalf of six thousand LGBT service members who make up OutServe. I’m so proud of the organization we began while still serving in silence and have built to the largest LGBT Employee Resource Group in the country. More than that, I’m excited about the future, as I move to the position of Board Co-Chair of our newly combined organization, OutServe-SLDN, and we bring on a new Executive Director,” said Josh Seefried, co-founder and previously co-director of OutServe.

Seefried, who now serves as co-chair of the board of directors of OutServe-SLDN, introduced Allyson Robinson, named last week to lead the new organization as its first Executive Director as it was announced the planned combination of OutServe and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) was set to be finalized.

“As an Army veteran and a veteran of this movement, I am humbled by the daily sacrifice of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who not only serve the country they love, but chose to do so despite the extraordinary burden of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ I am so proud of the role OutServe and SLDN played in putting an end to that law once and for all,” said Robinson, who went on to focus her remarks on the work ahead to achieve full LGBT equality in the military.

“LGBT service members still carry extraordinary burdens. They fight for our freedoms while their family members still do not have the benefits that straight military spouses have. They don’t have Equal Opportunity protections. Our trans brothers and sisters still serve in silence, barred from legal, open service. And our veterans still carry the stigma of so-called “homosexual” discharges,” she said.

The gala hosted a keynote address by Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith, the first lesbian general officer serving openly, who also spoke to OutServe-SLDN at their Orlando conference Oct. 27.

“I know with certainty…That I am speaking to people who have skin in the game. We share that characteristic, you and I…we are “all in” to live an authentic life, to be ourselves both at home and at work,” Gen Smith said.

A selection committee determined the finalists for the each award, which were announced in August 2012. An independent panel of business and community leaders determined the winners.

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit, currently ongoing, brings together 3,000 business leaders, human resources and diversity professionals, employee resource group leaders, executive sponsors, LGBT employees and allies for a three day conference to examine issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. For more information about the summit, Click here.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, founded in 1998 by executive director Selisse Berry, is the leading champion for fully inclusive workplace equality that convenes, influences and inspires global employers and their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and allied employees.