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Business Briefs: Business group starts program for young LGBTs

by Matthew S. Bajko

Intuit IT analyst Abigail Braceros is one of the three<br>global chairs of the company's Pride network. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Intuit IT analyst Abigail Braceros is one of the three
global chairs of the company's Pride network. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Out and Equal Workplace Advocates has long trained senior business executives on how to foster a more welcoming environment at their businesses for LGBT employees. Now the San Francisco-based nonprofit is turning its focus on the next generation of LGBT business leaders.

At its summit last year it added a young professionals track for the first time and had 700 people under the age of 30 attend. It will be expanding the track of sessions offered at the 2017 summit being held in October in Philadelphia.

"This year we are having special networking sessions and mentoring opportunities. There will be a lot more built in," said Rachel Rubin, Out and Equal's chief operating officer.

It also created a new young professionals class at its Out and Equal Executive Forum, a multi-day training held annually for LGBT business leaders. The program launched at the 10th forum held this spring in San Francisco, where 22 people under the age of 40 were welcomed into the 2017 inaugural class.

"For folks who attended the summit in October, the executive forum was an opportunity to deep dive into the stuff we talked about at summit," said Oakland resident Abigail Braceros , 32, an in-house IT analyst at Intuit . "It was great exposure to a lot of executives and folks later in their career arc and hearing about their journeys being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in the corporate world."

Braceros, a lesbian and a first generation Filipino-American, has worked for Intuit for more than three years in its San Francisco office. One of the more striking experiences she had at the forum was talking to a small group of older, white male senior executives about how to foster a more diverse workplace.

"It blew my mind. It didn't occur to me people at that level cared, especially with the political climate and everything that is happening," recalled Braceros, one of three global chairs of the Intuit Pride Network. "My input as an IT analyst is low on the totem pole."

Her direct manager has made it a priority to hire a diverse team around the country, noted Braceros. It is an example of leadership she tries to emulate.

"It was really cool to see at the very top someone from JP Morgan Chase, a big banking conglomerate, how they are trying to advocate for change, and me on the bottom of the totem pole also paving the way," she said. "No matter where you are in your career, you can drive the change you want to see."

Forty people had applied for the young professionals class, designed for people in the first 15 years of their career. In addition to attending their own sessions, the young professionals had an opportunity to meet and mingle with top executives from a number of Fortune 500 companies.

"A lot of the people in the original executive class at some point will retire. We need to build this pipeline of upcoming LGBT leaders who can continue to be advocates within their company," said Rubin.

The organization has also been alarmed by reports that despite the gains the LGBT community has made in recent decades, there is still a pervasive belief that coming out at work could hamper one's career. A study released in 2014 by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation found that the majority of LGBT employees (53 percent) nationwide were closeted on the job.

"It is not uncommon for people to start their careers closeted. They don't want to be discriminated against," noted Rubin. "In 28 states you can be fired for being gay."

With millennials, in particular, there is a tendency not to feel a need to come out of the closet, added Rubin. Many work for companies that have adopted pro-LGBT workplace protections and policies and are increasingly taking public stances against proposed laws at the state level that discriminate against the LGBT community.

"We want to understand what is going on so we can encourage people to start their careers being out," she said.

Due to the positive feedback about the spring training, Out and Equal will again be recruiting young professionals to attend its executive forum in 2018. Those interested will be able to apply starting in December.


More! murals dot SF gayborhoods

Juanita More! stands in front of a mural at the Powerhouse. Photo: Courtesy Facebook

In conjunction with her annual Pride party fundraiser, drag queen Juanita More! teamed artists with the owners of a trio of locally owned San Francisco businesses willing to have their facades adorned with a colorful mural. Dubbed the Juanita More! Pride Mural Project, the public art campaign was sponsored by Castro-based general store Cliff's Variety.

The murals can be found in three of the city's historic gay districts. In the Polk Gulch neighborhood at Lush Lounge , 1221 Polk Street, San Francisco-based illustrator and graphic designer Serge Gay Jr. painted his mural on a wall fronting Fern Street. It features More! wrapped in rainbow-colored ribbons holding her French bulldog Jackson More.

Both sport matching white ruffled collars, while a queen bee sits on More!'s nose, which gay Curbed SF editor Brock Keeling called "a literal stroke of brilliance. Lovely."

At South of Market gay bar Powerhouse , 1347 Folsom Street, San Francisco transplant Elliott C Nathan created a letter stencil mural to the right of the entrance that spells out "Loads of Love." Inside the individual letters of the first and last words are different scenes or homages to LGBT symbols.

For instance, the L in "Loads" features a white dove, Sutro Tower, and the rainbow flag, while the O sports the transgender flag, the D is painted as the leather flag, and the S is the bear flag adorned with a white jock strap. Inside the O of "Love" Jackson More sits on a hillside by the Golden Gate Bridge.

At Castro clothing store Unionmade , 493 Sanchez Street, Mexican-American artist J. Manuel Carmona, who lives in Mexico City, painted a mural on the wall fronting 18th Street that features More! bracketed by the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge with a fluttering rainbow flag behind her. The mural doubles as the poster art for More!'s party the Sunday of Pride, which this year will raise funds for The Q Foundation, formerly the AIDS Housing Alliance/San Francisco, and the LGBT Asylum Project.

"It was a crazy idea, who do I think I am to have three murals done by Pride," said More!, who began working on the project shortly after her Pride party last June. "I want San Francisco to look pretty. I want to turn the corner and see pretty stuff."

This year there is also the JM! Pride Window Project running through June in which a number of clothing stores in San Francisco are displaying gowns worn by More! and created by celebrated couturier Mr. David . The displays can be found in Union Square at Saks Fifth Avenue and Hero Shop ; in Hayes Valley at Modern Appealing Clothing; and in the Castro at Sui Generis Consignment. George Pet Shop in Pacific Heights has mounted a window display honoring More!'s pooch.

Unionmade, Sui Generis, and Powerhouse are all selling tickets to More!'s Pride party, now in its 12th year. Tickets cost $40 and are cash only. The event takes place from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, June 25 at event space 620 Jones in the Tenderloin.

Visit for more information about the murals, party, and additional locations to purchase tickets.


A bouquet of pride

Bay Area Reporter administrative assistant Colleen Small Bogitini arranges rainbow roses from Roseshire. Photo: Cynthia Laird

A Concord-based floral delivery service is offering rainbow-hued roses for Pride Month, but expect to pay a pretty penny for the painted petals.

To achieve the multi-colored palette for its Love roses, Roseshire injects dyes into the stem of the flowers, which are naturally white, as they grow. Each stem is shipped with its own water tube to ensure maximum freshness.

The company works with sustainable growers in southern California and monitors "every step of our roses' journey and do not permit our roses to be handled outside of our supervision," according to its website. It offers different colored roses, several themed to Disney films, all of which arrive in specially designed boxes.

Roseshire ships its bouquets priority, overnight via FedEx and will do so for free on orders of more than a dozen sent to addresses in the continental U.S. A dozen Love roses, which vary in length from 17 inches to 25 inches, cost $110 plus shipping.

To order, visit


Got a tip on LGBT business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail mailto:.


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