Corporate & Social Responsibility summit 2017

In the Spring and Summer of 2017, the Texas state legislature debated multiple "bathroom bills" that threatened the rights and privacy of the LGBTQ community, but also united the business community of Texas and the nation. As the legislature debated various versions of the bathroom bill in its special summer legislative session, we invited some of Austin and Texas' most influential business leaders to a panel with the goal of turning business leaders into activists. All versions of the bathroom bill were defeated by the end of the summer session.

Insights: 

  • Traditionally conservative pro-business candidates and traditionally liberal LGBTQ advocates find common ground in defeating legislation that threatens personal freedoms, which subsequently threaten the growth of business
  • Republican primary contests with low turnout are the fulcrum for deciding the agenda of subsequent Texas legislatures, and eventually Texas law
  • The doors to Texas lawmakers and their staff are literally open to the public during the legislative session; but misperceptions of access prevent citizens from face-to-face communication with their elected representatives 

Results: 

  • Acquired the participation of the following business leaders, bios can be seen in the summit program
    • Erik Day, VP at Dell
    • Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer SXSW
    • Edgar Gierbolini, President, Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
    • Chris Plonsky, Director of Women's Athletics, University of Texas
    • Mellie Price, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Capital Factory
    • Chris Wallace, President, Texas Association of Business
  • Secured press coverage on Austin Business Journal (subscription required for full article) and Huffington Post
  • Led participants to timely, specific action steps, including direct lobbying at the Capitol, and joining Texas Association of Business' "Keep Texas Open For Business" initiative

My Roles

  • Initiate conversations with and confirm all panelists and moderator
  • Develop moderator guide
  • Manage all event logistics, including audio recording