After a competitive application process featuring applicants from more than 20 countries on five continents, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates has announced its inaugural cohort of Global Fellows: Levis Nderitu, Sullivan Reed Society, Kenya; Suresh Ramdas, HP Inc., India; and Kaspars Zalitis, Association Open Centre, Latvia.
“Each and every one of our Global Fellows is a true inspiration,” said Selisse Berry, Founder and CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. “Levis, Suresh, and Kaspars have demonstrated incredible commitment to advancing LGBT rights and workplace equality, even in the most challenging of environments. Though the movement for LGBT equality has made significant progress in recent years, it’s critical to remember that in 76 countries we can still be arrested, imprisoned or even killed because of who we are and who we love. Our Global Fellows make me confident that the future of LGBT workplace equality is bright. I look forward to offering each one of them this learning opportunity, and to learning from them as well.”
The fellows will travel to the United States to participate in an intensive five-week Out & Equal leadership development program for emerging global advocates in LGBT workplace equality.
“I hope the fellowship will equip me with the right skills, tools, and best practices on how to engage with multinational corporations that find it difficult to implement their globally inclusive LGBT policies in African countries like Kenya where the laws are punitive and prohibitive,” said Global Fellow Levis Nderitu.
Each fellow will develop a project designed to advance LGBT workplace equality in their home country, in addition to working with Out & Equal staff on key workplace equality initiatives and events. Fellows will also have the opportunity to meet with Out & Equal corporate partners, engage with other LGBT non-profits, and participate in community activities and events.
“As an out gay man in India—where homosexuality is criminalized—a workplace like HP Inc., that nurtures and promotes a diverse and inclusive culture, has not only given me confidence, but has also inspired me to be a fierce advocate of workplace equality,” said Global Fellow Suresh Ramdas. “With the help of Out & Equal’s specialized expertise, I want to spread more awareness in my workplace and also in my community.”
The fellowship will culminate at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit, the premier global conference on LGBT workplace equality, where fellows will present on a globally focused panel, attend panels and workshops and network with the event’s 4,500 attendees from over 30 countries. Upon returning home, they will implement the projects they developed during their Out & Equal fellowships.
“I am very honored to take part in the Out & Equal Global Fellowship Program,” said Global Fellow Kaspars Zalitis. “Workplace equality is a very new concept in Latvia and I am thrilled to gain knowledge and experience during the fellowship that I can later implement in Latvia and throughout the region. In my professional capacity, I’ve achieved change in Latvia and I hope to soon see business emerging as a champions for equality in my country as well.”