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Austin LGBT Chamber Raises Fees for Small Business Members

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ALGBTCC Rainbow Ribbon Cutting for BizBox Powered by Office Depot
The Rainbow Ribbon cutting for BizBox Powered by Office Depot at the Austin LGBT Chamber May Luncheon. Photo credit: Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce / Facebook

The Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce‘s Board of Directors has voted to approve a restructure of its membership fees for 2019. Starting January 1, 2019, the Enhanced Small Business Member level will be eliminated and the fee for the Basic Small Business Member level will increase from $250 to $365 per year.

When their current membership expires, current Enhanced Small Business Members will have the option to upgrade their membership to the Corporate Silver Partner level for $1,000 or downgrade their membership to the Basic Small Business Member level at $365.

There were no changes to the membership fees for Student, Individual or Non-Profit Organization member levels or the Corporate Partner levels.

Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce
2019 Membership Levels

Student – $25
Individual – $75
Basic Small Business – $250 $365
Enhanced Small Business – $450
Corporate Silver Partner – $1,000
Corporate Gold Partner – $2,000
Corporate Platinum Partner – $3,500
Corporate Titanium Partner- $5,000

Chase is the Founder and Creative Director of therepubliq.com, Host and Executive Producer of OutCast Austin, an award-winning LGBT weekly radio program on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin. In 2011, he was named the Critics Pick for 'Most Gaybiquitous' in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin. In 2012, CultureMap Austin named him one of Austin's Top LGBT bloggers and he received the AGLCC's Chamber Award for Social Media Diva.

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Workplace

Transgender Americans Still Face Workplace Discrimination Despite Some Progress

While US companies have made significant strides in creating workplaces that are more inclusive of transgender individuals, discrimination and employment penalties remain.

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license. Read the original article.

Activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20 to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost due to trans prejudice and hatred.

In that spirit of reflection, the day serves as an opportune time to examine how the opportunities and experiences of transgender individuals in the workplace have changed – particularly at a time when some government officials are openly advocating policies that discriminate against them.

I’ve been researching diversity and inclusion in a variety of settings including sports and work for nearly two decades. The good news is that my work and that of my peers shows transgender individuals have made significant strides in the workplace. The bad news is that many hurdles remain to equal opportunity and an end to discrimination.

SIGNS OF PROGRESS

Various indicators and signs point to meaningful improvements in the access, treatment and opportunities for transgender employees.

One such indicator is the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, an annual assessment of policies and benefits for LGBT individuals in Fortune 500 companies. In 2002, only 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies had nondiscrimination polices based on gender identity. That figure was 83 percent in the most recent report, which came out in 2018.

Human Rights Campaign 2016 Corporate Equality Index Best Places to Work Reception / photo credit: Ted Eytan / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The report also shows that most Fortune 500 companies now include transgender-inclusive medical benefits. In 2002, no companies offered such provisions.

Another measure of how much things have changed is in the willingness of corporate giants and their CEOs to oppose policies that discriminate against trandsgender individuals.

A recent example is when President Donald Trump said he would seek to legally define gender as immutably male or female. Coca-Cola, Apple, JP Morgan Chase and dozens of other major U.S. companies swiftly signaled their opposition.

Another is the backlash that has followed legislative efforts to limit the rights of transgender individuals to use pubic restrooms. North Carolina, for example, was estimated to lose US$3.76 billion over a dozen years after companies nixed plans to build facilities in the state or canceled concerts because of the “bathroom bill” lawmakers passed. They later repealed it.

My own research with a colleague shows why corporate America is taking a stand: Most consumers value inclusiveness. Participants in a study we conducted in 2014 interpreted LGBT-inclusive statements by organizations as a signal that the company valued all forms of diversity. As a result, the consumers’ attraction to the organization increased.

HURDLES REMAIN

Despite the progress, hurdles still exist, impeding full trans inclusion in the workplace.

A study I conducted with another colleague in 2017, for example, showed that, although attitudes toward transgender individuals have improved over time, they still lag behind perceptions toward lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals.

Legal scholars from UCLA’s Williams Institute have shown that transgender people earn less and are more likely to be unemployed than their cisgender peers – whose gender corresponds to their birth sex. In fact, in 2011, one in seven transgender individuals earned $10,000 or less a year, while the unemployment rate for trans people of color was nearly four times the national rate.

For those who are employed, they routinely face discrimination. In another study out of the Williams Institute, state law and policy director Christy Mallory and colleagues found that more than one in four reported being fired, passed over for promotion or not being hired in the past year because of their gender identity and expression.

Others are aware of the mistreatment. In a survey of Texans – a state where employment discrimination against transgender individuals is legal – 79 percent of the respondents agreed that LGBT individuals face workplace discrimination.

Texans are not alone. According to the Movement Advancement Project, an organization whose mission is to promote equality for all, 48 percent of LGBT individuals live in states lacking employment protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

MORE INCLUSIVE WORKPLACES

The evidence suggests transgender individuals have made progress in the workplace, but they still face considerable barriers. What, then, can employers do to create more inclusive environments?

Legal protections are key. Organizational psychologists Laura Barron and Michelle Hebl have shown that the presence of anti-discrimination ordinances and laws decrease bias in employment decision making. Absent federal protections, states and cities can ensure all people have employment protections, irrespective of their gender identity and expression.

Organizational leaders also make a difference. My research shows that leader advocacy and role modeling are critical when creating and sustaining an inclusion culture. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, has a history of strongly advocating for LGBT rights. It is little wonder, then, that Apple is routinely listed among the most LGBT-friendly companies.

The Apple contingent in the 2014 Austin Pride Parade / photo credit: Chase Martin / therepubliq

Finally, co-workers play an important role, especially when they serve as allies. These are persons who advocate for transgender equality in the workplace and try to create welcoming, inclusive spaces. Allies seek to create social change, leading the charge at times and supporting their transgender colleagues in other instances.

Transgender inclusion helps all involved. Employee engagement and performance improves, as does their psychological and physical health. Diverse and inclusive organizations outperform their peers on objective measures of success, such as stock market performance.

Thus, the path forward – one that clears the hurdles in place and creates an inclusive environment – is one that can benefit everyone.

Disclosure: Texas A&M University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US. A complete list of partners and funders can be viewed here.

The Conversation is an independent, nonprofit publisher of commentary and analysis, authored by academics and edited by journalists for the general public.

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Out Leadership Rings the Nasdaq Opening Bell

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Out Leadership, the global LGBT+ business network, rang the Nasdaq stock market opening bell on Friday, November 2, 2018. The ceremony celebrated Out Leadership’s instrumental impact in making LGBT+ equality a priority in global C-suites, and the progress its executive events and talent initiatives have made towards inspiring Out Leaders and global companies to grow their businesses through inclusion.

Todd Sears (center) was joined by members of Out Leadership’s senior leadership team and representatives from member companies / photo credit: Out Leadership / Facebook

“When I started this company, it was rare to see a CEO discussing LGBT+ equality as an issue that affected how they did business. In the last 8 years, we’ve engaged more than 400 global CEOs in our work, helping them realize the immense positive business impacts of inclusion. In many ways, ringing the opening bell is symbolic of the immense progress we’ve made in establishing LGBT+ equality as a guiding principle for many of our world’s most influential companies. As we ring the opening bell, we are grateful to the many companies and leaders who’ve helped us get here. And we are also reminded of how much potential remains locked behind closet doors. Our commitment to driving LGBT+ equality forward, in every kind of company, and in every region of the world, is stronger than ever before,” said Todd Sears, Founder and Principal, Out Leadership.

Todd Sears was joined by members of Out Leadership’s senior leadership team, representatives from Out Leadership’s member companies include members of its Leadership Committees, and other supporters.

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Gap Inc., Marriott International, Inc. Are ‘Open to All’

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Gap Inc. and Marriott International, Inc. announced they are signing the Open to All Business Pledge and urged other business leaders across the nation to add their voices and their businesses to declare that they are Open to All regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion or disability. There are over 2,300 Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, and Intermix stores in the country, spanning all 50 states. Marriott International, Inc. encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,700 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 130 countries and territories.

Marriott International Inc. and Gap Inc. join Yelp, Levi Strauss & Co., Lyft, as well as more than 1,500 small businesses and 200 nonprofits, in partnering with Open to All, the public education campaign focused on the longstanding principles that affirm when a business opens its doors to the public, it should be open to everyone on the same terms. To welcome all customers, Gap Inc. stores will also feature the Open to All window cling in select stores across America.

“Since our founding nearly 50 years ago, our company values have led the way we run our business. Together, our brands celebrate equality for all in our workplaces and communities globally. Not only does this foster inclusivity, creativity and contribute to a more just world, it also helps us be more competitive in the marketplace and better serve our customers. We’re proud to join the Open to All coalition and stand with other businesses to welcome all customers to our brands,” said Art Peck, president and chief executive officer at Gap Inc.

Gap Inc. will also post Open to All signs at its headquarter buildings in San Francisco, New York and Albuquerque, as well as at its distribution centers in California, Ohio, Tennessee and New York. The company has approximately 135,000 employees around the world.

“Gap Inc. and Marriott have demonstrated a deep commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equality,” said Calla Rongerude, campaign manager of Open to All. “In a time when many people of color, LGBT people, people of minority faiths, and many others still can’t be sure they won’t be discriminated against when they seek goods or services, it is more important than ever for businesses to affirm inclusive values.”

A new poll shows that most Americans support businesses like Gap Inc. and Marriott that are Open to All. The Harris Poll®, conducted in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, finds that 75% of Americans believe when a business opens their door to the public, they should be open to all and serve everyone on the same terms. The poll also found that a vast majority of Americans agree that businesses should not be allowed to deny services to people based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin (87%), sex (87%), sexual orientation (81%), gender identity (80%), religion (85%), or disability (88%).

Open to All is one of the most significant public education efforts to date that unites and galvanizes national leaders in business, civic engagement, and the non-profit sector to take a stand for shared American values of fairness and equality.

In addition to the over 1,500 business members, Open to All includes more than 200 nonprofit members spanning civil rights and racial justice organizations; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) equality organizations; health and disability organizations; faith organizations; and more. Open to All members are committed to building awareness and understanding about the importance of nondiscrimination—and to defend the bedrock principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open to All.

Open to All was originally launched in November 2017. Initially, the campaign was focused on strengthening support for nondiscrimination amid oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Open to All’s business engagement initiative represents a dramatic expansion of that effort, encouraging businesses large and small across the country to publicly and visibly declare that they support nondiscrimination and that they are open to all.

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