JPMorgan Chase and PriceWaterhouseCoopers both received a prestigious ‘Outie’ Award last week from Out Equal Workplace Advocates for advancing a safe and equitable workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) professionals.

This year’s Out and Equal Workplace Awards were presented during the 16th Annual Out Equal Workplace Summit, where a record-setting 1,723 attendees gathered to share best practices on how to achieve workplace equality for LGBT employees.

LGBT employees and straight allies, along with human resources and diversity professionals, representing some of the nation’s most prominent companies — a majority from the Fortune 500-participated in this year’s Summit.

Other recipients of the ‘Outie’ Award presented at the 2006 Out Equal Workplace Summit Gala Awards Dinner include Emily Jones of Kodak; Deborah Dagit of Merck; and Microsoft GLEAM, the company’s LGBT employee resource group.

The winners were chosen from dozens of nominees and voted on by a panel of experts representing corporations and non-profits that are known to set the standards for LGBT workplace equality.

Highlighted speakers from the three-day Summit included actor George Takei, entertainment industry executive Nina Jacobson, author Richard Florida, and civil rights leader Yolanda King. Popular author and humorist Kate Clinton emceed the Summit’s Gala Awards Dinner on Friday evening.

These keynote addresses were in addition to the more than 90 workshops on topics ranging from implementing gender identity policies to how companies can embrace and promote diversity in heavily conservative environments.

“We had a fantastic Summit this year, full of ideas and practices on the cutting edge of corporate thought and proven methods for achieving total workplace equality for all employees,” said Selisse Berry, executive director for Out Equal. “Our award winners, such as PriceWaterhouseCooper and JPMorgan Chase, have demonstrated that allowing LGBT employees, and all employees, to bring their whole selves to work results in better business and success.”

For the first time in history, more than half of all Fortune 500 companies are offering domestic partner benefits to their LGBT employees, and this year noticed a remarkable trend among leading businesses to adopt policies around transitioning transgender employees, including the willingness to cover gender reassignment surgery among other health insurance benefits.

And the winners are…

Trailblazer Award – Emily Jones Cofounder of the Lambda Network at Kodak, Jones helped to design the UCLA Executive Leadership Program for LGBT and is a graduating member of the first class, served as awards co-chair for Out Equal, co-chairs the HRC Business Council, and has seen the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley through times of great change as president and board chair. Jones has a gift for mentoring and growing new leaders who “connects the dots” between allies, LGBT individuals and corporations.

Champion Award – Deborah Dagit Dagit has been an LGBT advocate throughout her 15 years as a diversity leader. She has implemented domestic partner benefits in three companies, serves on the board of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), has facilitated the development of LGBT training in partnership with Brian McNaught, has been actively involved with three different LGBT ERGs, and has taken on tough issues such as same-gender marriage.

Employee Resource Group of the Year Award – Microsoft’s GLEAM Microsoft’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender group (GLEAM) was able to effectively work with the company to include gender identity or expression in the company’s EEO statement, obtain approval to add health coverage for transgender surgery to the company’s healthcare policy, and influenced the company’s decision on turning a neutral support of Washington State’s anti-discrimination bill and other anti-discrimination legislation to full public support of anti-discrimination legislation in the US.

Significant Achievement Award – PricewaterhouseCoopers PricewaterhouseCoopers has committed great energy, effort, resources, and budget to advancing workplace equality for LGBT people in the firm, including launching and funding LGBT Circles (our ERG) in 10 US offices, launching our executive level National LGBT Partners Advisory Board, sponsoring office-wide pride celebrations in 5 major market offices, launching LGBT diversity training for all lines of service, and awarding the firm’s highest honor, the Chairman’s Award, to the LGBT Circle in their Tampa office.

Workplace Excellence Award – JPMorganChase JPMorgan Chase is a consistently forward-looking champion for workplace equality, safety, and inclusiveness.

Its global ranking as a top company for LGBT diversity and its consistent score of 100% on the HRC Corporate Equality Index, illustrate strong leadership for nondiscrimination policies, benefits parity, inclusion, and community support.

Out Equal Workplace Advocates is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organisation headquartered in San Francisco, California. Out Equal(tm) Workplace Advocates champions safe and equitable workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

The organisation advocates building and strengthening successful organizations that value all employees, customers, and communities.

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