Business Briefs: Out & Equal CEO launches new strategic plan

  • by Matthew S. Bajko
  • Wednesday February 7, 2018
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Erin Uritus, the new CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, plans to spend her first year on the job learning about the San Francisco-based nonprofit before she makes any changes to its operations.

To assist her in determining what, if any, steps she should take at the business-oriented agency, Uritus will be meeting with staff, board members, and stakeholders over the next 12 months. She is also embarking on a new strategic planning process for the agency, though it remains to be determined how long of a timeline the plan will cover.

"I am really excited about it. That is my focus right now," Uritus told the Bay Area Reporter in a phone interview January 31, her 13th day on the job.

One pivot she is making immediately is to move beyond talking about just diversity in the workplace and ensuring that companies are being inclusive as well.

"This year our focus is on belonging," said Uritus. "Diversity is not particularly hard. As a company you can say I have diversity. Inclusion takes it a step forward."

Out & Equal started in San Francisco in 1996 and also has staff in Washington, D.C., where Uritus will be based. She succeeded the group's founder and former CEO, Selisse Berry, who stepped down in August.

Uritus, 44, will earn $220,000. A divorced mother of two daughters, Uritus is currently single and identifies as pansexual and queer.

"I am a proud member of the bi-plus community," she said.

Although she lives in D.C., Uritus told the B.A.R. that there are no discussions at this time of relocating the agency's Bay Area employees to the East Coast. She does plan to hire more staff for the D.C. office as its workload has expanded.

The nonprofit partners with Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies to provide development, consultation, and networking opportunities, among other services. It has increased its focus internationally over the last decade to assist LGBT executives working at companies' global headquarters, especially in regions where hostility to LGBT individuals is rampant.

The agency has held events in India, Chile, Brazil, and China, while its webinars reach a global audience. Uritus is uniquely qualified to further expand Out & Equal's global reach into corporate offices and executive boardrooms.

She opened the African Women's Media Center in Dakar, Senegal and worked in Abu Dhabi from 2007 to 2011 on a variety of initiatives, first with the government and later with the educational nonprofit International Schools Services.

"We do want to increase our international work," said Uritus. "I am really excited about that."

Despite the LGBT community's gains in recent years in the U.S., there is still more to do nationally as well, argued Uritus, noting how LGBT employees lack workplace protections in 28 states. At the federal level, bills to end LGBT-based discrimination on the job have routinely stalled in Congress.

"Even though there may have been progress in the states, we are still working hard on that," said Uritus.

She moved back to the U.S. shortly before the election of President Donald Trump, an outcome that "profoundly impacted" her and motivated her to became active again with Out & Equal. She had joined the agency in 2002 as an employee resource group leader at the Booz Allen consulting firm and attended her first Out & Equal Summit that year in Orlando.

She recalled taking part in one of the only workshops on bisexuality at the time. Having only recently come out and still working to appreciate her sexual orientation, Uritus said it was a powerful experience.

"That really changed my life, certainly that summit did," she said.

Eventually, she joined the nonprofit's board and co-founded Out & Equal's chapter affiliate in Washington, D.C. In 2007 she co-chaired its summit in D.C. and a decade later applied to lead the organization.

"I came back to my roots, I guess," said Uritus.

Out & Equal is hosting a town call from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday (February 8) with Uritus and its board chair Michael Cox. For dial-in information, visit - /?meeting=6sg17l8k2y57&campaign=nvcb43tpvfv4.

SF to fund trans job training program

San Francisco officials are looking to fund a new program that would train transgender individuals to work in the restaurant industry.

The city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development recently issued a request for proposals from interested groups to oversee the occupational training program. It is meant to focus, in particular, on transgender women of color.

The office's Workforce Development Division anticipates the contract will total between $130,000 and $160,000. The deadline to apply is Monday, February 26, and it is expected that the contract will be finalized by June.

Katherine Daniel, the acting director of the division, told the B.A.R. she believes it is the first time that the city agency has set aside funding for a program that specifically targets the transgender community. For years now the office has funded more broadly focused job training and workforce development programs offered by the LGBT Community Center.

The restaurant job training program for transgender people was inspired by plans to open a cafe owned and operated by the transgender community within the boundaries of the Compton's Transgender Cultural District in a section of the Tenderloin. The city is working with community activists to establish the district, which takes its name from the Gene Compton's Cafeteria that had operated at 101 Taylor Street and was the site of a protest by transgender patrons and others in August 1966.

For more information on the RFP, visit

Got a tip on LGBT business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected].