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Nearly 500 people from all over the world gathered at Out & Equal’s Momentum Gala in San Francisco to honour recipients of the LGBT Ally of the Year Award and Outstanding Ally Awards.

Winners of the awards have demonstrated long standing-support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“We are honoured to present these exceptional allies with the Ally of the Year and Outstanding Ally awards,” said Selisse Berry, Founder and CEO of Out & Equal. “Strong allies are crucial to the success of the LGBT rights movement, specifically LGBT workplace equality. With the support of our allies, we strive to change the world one cubicle, one employee, and one workplace at a time.”

Judy and Dennis Shepard, founders of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, are this year’s recipients of the 2016 Ally of the Year Award. They have committed their lives to combatting LGBT bullying and violence following the murder of their son in 1998. The Foundation has been pivotal in bringing families together and has inspired life-saving federal hate crime legislation that has shaped our nation’s dialogue on LGBT violence and acceptance.

“Workplace equality is about more than crafting inclusive policies for our employee manuals distributed by HR,” said Judy and Dennis Shepard. “Our work at the Foundation is aimed at helping companies ensure that all workers, both at home and abroad, from the lowest-level employee to the top earning executive, can feel safe to work without fear of discrimination, or wrongful termination, or not having opportunities because of who they love or how they identify.”

Out & Equal also honoured Michael Murray of Blue Shield of California; Erby Foster of The Clorox Company; Matt Lively of Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores; Carl Liebert of USAA Capital Corp and Jennifer Rosa of MasterCard as this year’s Outstanding Allies.

On their selection as an Outstanding Ally:

Erby Foster, Director, Diversity & Inclusion for The Clorox Company stated, “I’m honoured to be recognized by Out & Equal as an ally of diversity and inclusion. As the world shrinks, it’s even more important to increase our understanding of each other. Creating a culture of inclusion is not only the right thing to do, but it also helps drive a competitive business advantage.”

Matt Lively, Project Manager of Product Development at Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores said, “I was humbled and honoured to be nominated by my peers and receive this recognition from Out & Equal. I feel there is always more I can do. After attending the Out & Equal Summit in October, I was re-energized. This award motivates me to the next level of action to make a difference.”

Jennifer Rosa, Senior Systems Analyst at MasterCard said, “Receiving this award is a true testament to the value of working to create an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work. Diversity of thought and experience, and being able to share these openly, creates a more trusting, open and ultimately, a more successful and inspiring environment.”

About Out & Equal

Out & Equal is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organisation that collaborates with Fortune 500 corporations around the world to help them create safe and supportive work environments for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. Out & Equal provides professional development opportunities; establishes and supports employee resource groups; develops hiring policies and training programs; provides networking opportunities; and develops career advancement programs. Out & Equal, which was founded in 1996, brings together employees and experts from around the world each year at its Workplace Summit, where attendees learn about current and emerging best practices to ensure greater opportunities and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

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