Deralyn O’Connell, President of Equal at United Airlines
This year, O’Connell’s role as the president of United’s LGBTQ+ resource group was given a major spotlight. After doubling membership to 3,600 employees across five continents, scheduling gatherings at over 12 Pride parades, and encouraging the company’s support of nonprofits like AIDS/LifeCycle and Equality Illinois, O’Connell helped take the organization to new heights. But it was the company’s new consumer-facing policies—becoming the “first U.S. airline to fully recognize domestic partnerships and the first North American airline to offer nonbinary gender options throughout all booking channels” that got the press talking. Thankfully, it didn’t stop at Pride: This year, United also formally endorsed the Equality Act.
Walter Frye, Vice President of Global Brand Engagement at American Express
Being a Black gay man to hold a major leadership position at one of the most influential financial institutions in the world is already an accomplishment — but Frye’s work toward making AmEx a better place for his queer colleagues is what earns him a spot on this list. This year, Frye launched the LGBTQ+ Leadership Academy, developed in partnership with the Stonewall Community Foundation, which will sponsor more than 70 LGBTQ+ nonprofit leaders to attend a multi-day training program in November. He also helped to spearhead Pride initiatives in over 30 American Express offices around the globe, amplifying the company’s relationship to the community through a multimillion-dollar commitment to nonprofit work and brand awareness.
Anthony DeRojas, Director of Consumer Marketing at Mastercard
Right in time for Stonewall50, Mastercard unveiled its “True Name” program, “helping transgender and nonbinary individuals by allowing for their chosen names to be on the front of their card,” DeRojas says. “Nearly one-third of individuals who have shown IDs with a name or gender that did not match their presentation reported negative experiences, such as being harassed, denied services, or attacked.” The new policy makes Mastercard a leader in the financial industry, helping to simplify things for customers who are simply going about their day-to-day lives or purchases. “Our goal was to set a new industry standard with a product that would better recognize the trans and nonbinary communities, ensuring that people’s financial products can reflect their true identity.”
This piece was originally published in this year’s Out100 issue, out on newstands 12/10. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, or Nook beginning 11/21.