Today, the biggest news for the LGBT community is that CNN's Anderson Cooper finally came out of the closet and announced he's gay.
Just as important, though, is the announcement by ESPN that it is launching the ESPN Ally program to emphasize the company's commitment to an inclusive, open workplace.
The Ally program was developed by ESPN EQUAL, an employee resource group (ERG) to support the network's LGBT employees. ESPN formed eight different ERG's three years ago in a human resource initiative to address the needs of employees that might face discrimination because of their sex, race, or orientation.
For the last couple weeks, the company has been videotaping gay and straight employees declaring their support for the Ally program. The program defines an “Ally” as a heterosexual who is committed to “foster a workplace where LGBT employees are accepted, included and supported.” The video debuted today.
In the video, the chair of ESPN EQUAL, Heath Rosenthal, described an “Ally” as someone who stands up for their LGBT colleagues.
What's most groundbreaking about this video is not just that ESPN is working to prevent discrimination; they are promoting a workplace that encourages gay people to be open about their sexuality. Also, whether the company realizes it or not, their public announcement has made them a partner of the LGBT community in the fight for equal rights.