Continuing its longstanding partnership with the global LGBTQ+ business network Out Leadership, Ropes & Gray served as a global sponsor of the organization’s 2022 OutQUORUM Summit, “Progress and Possibility.” The three-day global summit, held virtually from March 22-24, convened senior executives, corporate secretaries, existing board members and senior business leaders from around the world to examine the state of LGBTQ+ diversity in the boardroom.
The summit included panel discussions on a range of policy and legal issues affecting LGBTQ+ board diversity, and the launch of “Visibility Counts 2022: LGBTQ+ Board Diversity: What are we waiting for?,” a research report containing tactical policy examples and best practices for increasing LGBTQ+ corporate board diversity.
Ropes & Gray partner Peter Erichsen, who serves as head of the firm’s corporate department and co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Forum, and Kia Scipio, the firm’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion, welcomed attendees to the summit. Kia noted Ropes & Gray’s focus on supporting work that has the potential to “really move the needle for LGBTQ+ equality” and that the firm’s partnership with Out Leadership is critical to that mission because “bringing leaders in the business community together to foster LGBTQ+ leadership at the most senior levels—and backing up that mission with data—is what moves the needle.”
Peter echoed that sentiment. “At Ropes & Gray,” he said, “our collective hats are off to Todd Sears and Out Leadership for their groundbreaking research, their tactical efforts to advance LGBTQ+ equality, and for convening all of us to work together with common purpose. We are proud to stand alongside all of you in your efforts to make the business world, and the world at large, more inclusive, equitable and vibrant.”
Ropes & Gray partners Emily Oldshue and Jeremiah Williams introduced a panel on the role of investors and regulators in LGBTQ+ board diversity. “As a global sponsor of OutQUORUM,” said Jeremiah, “we are proud to be helping to expand the board diversity conversation globally.” Emily thanked Out Leadership for its “innovative leadership over the years that has brought so many of us together and harnessed our collective passion to advance LGBTQ+ equality.”
Ropes & Gray’s partnership with Out Leadership dates back to 2014, when the firm signed on as a founding sponsor of Out in Law, the first LGBTQ+ senior leadership initiative for the legal profession. Since then, the partnership has expanded significantly. In 2018 and 2019, Ropes & Gray served as the sponsor for Out Leadership’s U.S. Summits, which focused on legislative and policy challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and the role of businesses in advocating on behalf of LGBTQ+ equality. In 2019, Ropes & Gray and Out Leadership jointly produced a first-of-its-kind report on LGBTQ+ self-identification. The report, “Visibility Counts: Corporate Guidelines for LGBT+ Self-ID,” outlined best practices and key considerations for implementing LGBTQ+ self-ID programs. In addition, Ropes & Gray served as the sole global pro bono legal partner on Out Leadership’s CEO Business Briefs, which provide organizations with comprehensive overviews of policies and regulations affecting LGBTQ+ people who live and work in locations where they do business. Ropes & Gray provided the legal and regulatory reviews for 28 country briefs, as well as all 50 U.S. state briefs.
Within the firm, Ropes & Gray has a longstanding commitment to ensuring that its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lawyers and business professionals feel welcome and empowered to bring their authentic selves to work. Since 2009, the firm has earned the top rating of 100 percent in the Corporate Equality Index, an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. To help promote an inclusive environment, the firm has an active diversity committee, which addresses policy issues, and an LGBTQ+ Forum and several resource networks that provide ongoing support to LGBTQ+ lawyers and business professionals, and help identify and coordinate firm-sponsored LGBTQ+ pro bono matters.
Ropes & Gray’s pro bono work includes fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers; helping secure health care and other rights for gay and transgender people; and forming effective pro bono partnerships with organizations such as Lambda Legal, GLAD and the Human Rights Campaign. In 2015, Ropes & Gray partner Doug Hallward-Driemeier, along with Mary Bonauto of GLAD, successfully argued the pivotal marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges before the Supreme Court. Since then, Doug and his team have continued to work with others to defend the rights of LGBTQ+ persons, including in states that have attempted to limit the rights that the Supreme Court recognized in Obergefell.
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