Yours truly was fortunate enough to attend the 8th Annual Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Celebration here in Kansas City tonight. Held at the Hallmark Visitor’s Center, the event included more than 100 professionals from more than 20 local corporations who gathered to celebrate local companies whose Corporate Equality Index (CEI) as determined by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) was 65% or greater. I was invited because my company was included in the celebration for the first time ever, largely because of the transgender protections and policies put into place in conjunction with my personal gender transition.
The event was very classy, with nice snacks and desserts, an open bar (the pinot noir was much better than the chardonnay), a live Jazz band, and many HRC personnel to answer questions and meet and greet with everyone. I found my fellow corporate attendees to be very engaging and interested in TLGB rights, some of them seemingly almost as militant as I! And I was both surprised and gratified that no one knew I was a transsexual woman until I told them (and I did tell everyone when the subject arose). Several attendees took my business cards and promised to contact me, saying they would like me to come and speak to their company directors and employees. I was able to spend a little personal time with Don Hall, the CEO of Hallmark, who I found to be a very polite and thoughtful man, and who directed me over to the small museum at Hallmark which is attached to the Visitor’s Center. I recognized immediately one of my favorite Normal Rockwell works, “The Kansas City Spirit,” and was also tickled to discover that Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali had been contracted to design some Christmas cards, none of which were released to the public due to the images being too…well, surreal.
I was ever so pleased and proud when my company was up for our award, and I found many of the short speeches by the other recipients to be entertaining and in some cases touching – such as one speech by a woman who brought her wife up to the podium with her, to both praise her wife and use their experiences as an example of how much more still needs to be done for TLGB rights.
There were two messages which I took with me from the event – the first one was a recognition that the HRC has done banner work to date, but the road ahead is still long and a bit rocky. But the second message was that so much progress has been made, and there is more opportunity for hope than ever before in our history.
The companies who were honored last night, and their scores are listed below:
|City of Kansas City, Mo.||Perfect Score|
|Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics||Perfect Score|
|Shook, Hardy, & Bacon LLP||100|
|Bryan Cave LLP||100|
|Thompson Coburn LLP||100|
|ConAgra Foods Inc.||95|
|Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc.||90|
|Stinson, Morrison, & Hecker LLP||90|
|Polsinelli Shugart PC||85|
|Nestlé Purina PetCare Co.||85|
|Union Pacific Corp.||70|
|Enterprise Holdings Inc.||65|
|Black & Veatch Corp.||65|