Legacy Business Cultures’ Melanie Sklarz, director of marketing and Dustin Lancy, marketing manager traveled to Minneapolis the last week in October to attend and exhibit at the Out & Equal Annual Workplace Summit.

According to the website, the Out & Equal Workplace Advocates was founded by Chief Executive Officer Selisse Berry, and is now 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, Regional Affiliate networks across the United States, and the world’s largest LGBT Employee Resource Group Registry.

“From attending the summit, I realized that although we have made great strides for equality in the workplace with the fall of DOMA (defense of marriage act), we (companies) have many inroads to go and there is more work that needs to be done,” stated Sklarz.

Sklarz gave the example that “it is somewhat alarming to me that we have laws to protect against workplace discrimination—but not on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In 29 states, you can get fired just for being gay. In 33 states, you can get fired just for being transgender.”

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, they 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.

“From being at our booth, people would stop and discuss the training that Legacy Business Cultures does in building awareness of people’s blind spots to the LGBT community,” said Lancy. “Our Connecting with Respect training has set the stage for organizations and for individuals to become more inclusive to start the dialogue of equality.”

One of the message points that Sklarz heard throughout the conference centered on the need for respect and bringing your whole self to work. “There were many anecdotal examples of unique stories, which gave way to creating a respectful workplace. It was evident that the demographics of the workplace are changing and everyone needs to go beyond tolerance to an environment of respect and acceptance,” related Sklarz.

While the concept of diversity and inclusion may be a new topic to some, many notable and influential companies throughout the United States were highly visible at the summit as supporters of the Out & Equal Advocates’ mission. These included: IBM, The Wall Disney Company, Thomson Reuters, Target, Hewlett-Packard, DuPont and General Mills plus about 50 more.

As this was the first summit for Legacy Business Cultures, both Sklarz and Lancy agreed “our training and workshops are in alignment with the advocacy for respect at every level. Legacy will be a supporter of Out & Equal throughout the year. Expect to see us at the summit in San Francisco in 2014.”