Guest Post with Author, Selisse Berry
Written by
February 2013
Written by
February 2013

I first realized that I am a lesbian when I was studying in seminary to become a Presbyterian minister. I quickly learned that, if I came out and chose to live my life honestly and openly, I would not be allowed to be ordained as a minister. I had to leave a career that I loved simply because of my sexual orientation. 

From that point forward, I dedicated my life to creating workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the workplace, with the hope that one day people will no longer have to choose between a career they love and living their lives with authenticity and integrity. My own experience inspired me to found Out & Equal Workplace Advocates sixteen years ago to advance workplace equality for LGBT people. Over the years, Out & Equal has grown into an international nonprofit organization working with multinational corporations, executives, employee resource group leaders, and diversity professionals to create more inclusive workplaces. Through this work, I met many senior executives and leaders who have driven real change in the corporations where they work. They each had touching personal stories of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allies. 

I realized that their stories were history in the making, and this inspired me to write Out & Equal at Work: From Closet to Corner Office. I knew that the stories had to be told, and so I reached out to senior executives from some of the world’s top corporations, inviting them to join me in sharing our stories. I was so honored with the results – that so many powerful people were happy to share their stories - including the CEO of Intuit, who is an important ally to the LGBT community, and openly LGBT senior executives from the Walt Disney Company, the Clorox Company, Campbell Soup, Merck, IBM, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Deloitte, Wells Fargo, and many other top corporations.

Out & Equal at Work is the first time that business leaders, including C-Suite executives from Fortune 500 Companies have come together to share their personal stories of facing discrimination and forwarding LGBT equality in the workplace. In many ways it is a book that reminds us that it really does get better. And, although things have improved, there is still so much to do. In 29 states, anyone can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and there are still some countries that punish LGBT people with the death penalty.

I hope that Out & Equal at Work will inspire people, including you, to become involved in Out & Equal’s efforts to expand workplace equality. There are many ways to become involved with Out & Equal: our headline events like the Workplace Summit, the annual LGBT Executive Forum and Momentum Leadership Celebration, local Regional Affiliate events, and training for your organization. We also host free monthly Town Call webinars, maintaining the world's largest registry of LGBT employee resource groups which connects LGBT employee resource group leaders from around the world. Contact [email protected] with any questions.

Copies of Out & Equal at Work can be purchased online, or via Amazon for electronic versions. 

A major transformation is happening in today’s workplace. This groundbreaking anthology chronicles personal narratives from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied executive trailblazers who have conquered adversity and ushered in policies that affirm and support the LGBT community in the workplace. Out & Equal at Work profiles an advocacy organization located at the intersection of the private sector and the broader social movement: Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, and its visionary Founding Executive Director, Selisse Berry.

Praise for Out & Equal at Work

“Out & Equal at Work speaks to the power of cultivating an environment that celebrates diversity, and ensures employees can bring their whole selves to work every day. Not only is this the right thing to do, but I believe it has profound benefits on employee engagement, retention, productivity and, ultimately, business results. Sexual orientation and gender identity are differences that should not matter. The only things that truly matter are the content of one’s character and the unique talent a person brings to the organization.”

– Don Knauss, Clorox CEO


“There are business books that reinforce the business imperative of diversity. This book is not just one of those. It’s a collection of authentic stories from real people — authentic, successful role models — whose stories are both moving and educational. More than that, they’re inspirational, because they demonstrate how LGBT employees can contribute and prosper at the highest levels in the inclusive workplace.”

– Harry van Dorenmalen, Chairman, IBM Europe


“Every American deserves to be treated fairly and equally in and out of the workplace. Out & Equal at Work is both educational and inspirational for employers and employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. With moving personal stories, Out & Equal at Work puts a human face on the benefits of diversity in the workplace and the rewards of being open and honest about who we are.”

– Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)


“Part of the way we each find the strength to bring our whole lives into the workplace is to learn about the experience of others who have taken that step. We not only can succeed, but we can contribute to the work environment in a more substantive way and lead a more fulfilling life. These stories of leadership and courage serve as a real inspiration.”

– Rick Welts, Chief Operating Officer, Golden State Warriors


“These are the stories that executives around the world should hear, coming from the brave voices of smart, successful executives who are making important contributions in business, in government and in the ways they conduct their lives with dignity and integrity. Even more so, these are the stories that all companies should want to be part of, showcasing how creating inclusive workplaces equates with creating a business culture where all of us can bring our mind and heart to work.”

– Sophie Vandebroek, Xerox Corporate Vice President


“When I started my career at Ford Motor Company, and ultimately served as Ford’s Vice Chairman, what strength and insight Out & Equal at Work would have offered. Each personal narrative here is a reminder how important it is to celebrate diversity and openness in every workplace — and to lead by example.”

– Allan Gilmour, former Vice Chairman, Ford Motor Company and President, Wayne State University


“The aim of the Nation’s best employers is to implement policies that make every workplace as equal, welcoming and purposeful as it can be. Selisse Berry’s new book, Out & Equal at Work, will help managers and employers everywhere understand why these fair-minded values make a real and lasting difference.”

– The Honorable John Berry


Selisse Berry is Founding Executive Director of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. Under her leadership, the organization has grown significantly with dramatic increases in attendance at the annual Workplace Summit and the expansion of programs and global initiatives. Selisse is a frequent speaker on workplace equality and has spoken across the United States and abroad including recent presentations in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, Hungary, the West Indies, and Mexico. Her most recent awards include the Outstanding Hero Congressional Recognition from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi; the Parks Award* in Rome, Italy; and the KQED Local Heroes Award** in San Francisco, California.  Selisse is the editor of Out & Equal at Work:  From Closet to Corner Office, Out & Equal’s new anthology of personal stories of executive trailblazers who have transformed the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Selisse’s clear and unwavering vision has been instrumental in creating an international organization whose philosophy reflects the importance of treating all colleagues in the workplace with respect and dignity. Since her first job as a guidance counselor, Selisse has continued her commitment to justice as a teacher and as a leader of several social service organizations prior to founding Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. She has master’s degrees in education and theology from the University of Texas and San Francisco Theological Seminary respectively. Selisse and her wife, Cynthia Martin, were legally married in California in 2008.

*The Parks Award was given by Parks – liberi e uguali, a nonprofit organization advocating for LGBT workplace equality in Italy.

**The KQED Local Heroes Award was given by a public television station.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

Founded by Executive Director Selisse Berry, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is the world’s largest nonprofit organization specifically dedicated to creating safe and equitable workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The organization has grown significantly with dramatic increases in attendance for the annual Workplace Summit, the expansion of regional affiliates across the United States, and many global initiatives. Out & Equal has created numerous programs to advance its mission, including the first Global Summit in London, the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit, the LGBT Executive Forum and Leadership Celebration, bimonthly Town Call seminars and the world’s largest registry of LGBT Employee Resource Groups.

Out & Equal is committed to creating safe and equitable workplace environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. We believe that people should be judged by the work they do, not by their sexual orientation or gender identity. Every day, we work to protect and empower employees to be productive and successful—so they can support themselves, their families, and contribute to achieving a world free of discrimination for everyone.



    @OutandEqual      Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

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