Post Date: June 27, 2017

The Workplace Pride 2017 International Conference in Brussels set a new standard for how all types of organizations can work together to achieve more for LGBTI workplace inclusion. From private sector organizations to civil society; European Parliament Members to EU Commissioners; international activists to LGBTI network leaders, this conference truly brought a wide range of stakeholders together.

As the conference theme implied, ‘Building Bridges’ among all of these stakeholders was omnipresent throughout the organization and the realization of the event. Co-organizers, Workplace Pride and ILGA-Europe, coming from two different angles of the LGBTI movement, set the tone with their close cooperation in its preparation. Both organizations ensured that the most topical LGBTI issues were included in the discussions.

The theme of cooperation was present from the very beginning with the Executive Roundtable held on Thursday the 22nd of June at the European Parliament building. Moderated by Mr. Harry van Dorenmalen, Vice-Chair of IBM Europe, this peer-based discussion highlighted the challenges, but also many strategic solutions for how businesses and institutions can make more progress with LGBTI workplace inclusion.

The Roundtable was followed by a reception hosted by Belgian EU Parliament member Hilde Vautmans who pointed out how vital it is to promote inclusion of all types throughout Europe.

Highlights of the main conference on Friday, the 23rd of June, included a presentation by EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger, (responsible for HR and Budget within the Commission) the signing of the Declaration of Amsterdam by Sodexo Benelux President, Michel Croisé. The morning executive panel looked at both challenges and potential solutions facing organizations of all types when dealing with OUT LGBTI leaders, international legal and cultural barriers, and institutional hurdles to greater LGBTI inclusion.

Eight interactive breakout sessions gave conference participants the opportunity to learn, contribute and to take back concrete action points to their own organizations. These sessions looked at vastly different topics ranging from how the media presents the LGBTI community, to ensuring that everyone within organizations is included in inclusion initiates, and to how transgender and intersex individuals can also have their ‘place at the table’ in organizations.

Closing the day was a presentation by the Workplace Pride Special Professor of LGBTI Workplace Inclusion, Dr. Jojanneke van der Toorn, who highlighted the sociological elements within organizations that cannot be ignored if greater progress is to be made on this topic.

With over 200 people attending, this year’s international conference was an eye-opener for many participants; most of whom had never attended a Workplace Pride conference. The knowledge that they gained will help progress LGBTI workplace inclusion in Belgium, among the EU institutions, with the private sector, and among the many members of the LGBTI community for whom this movement is so important.

To see images of the event: Click Here

To download a copy of the New Horizons Magazine, 2017 Conference Edition: Click Here.