We were scheduled to video Ernst & Young’s Global Vice Chair, Beth Brooke, for a video the firm wanted to submit to the Trevor Project in support of LGBT youth at risk. Beth had been asked to appear in her role as global leader for diversity and inclusiveness, and we’d submitted a draft script of her remarks for her review.
The morning of the shoot, I sat at breakfast in my hotel in DC, thumbing my Blackberry, and I came across an email from Beth. Attached was the script as she had revised it. In her version, she was choosing to come out as a lesbian. I think I said “Whoa!” out loud.
We spent time with Beth before the shoot that day, talking about what this would mean for her, not only as a leader at Ernst & Young but also as a prominent advocate for women’s leadership globally. Ultimately, we were all confident it was the right thing to do. But it was a very dramatic day.
If I’d been impressed with Beth before, I grew to be even more so, as I watched her step forward and exhibit a type of leadership many corporate executives rarely need to exercise: merging her business profile with her deeply personal experience.
What happened as a result? Watch the video. And here’s a link to the original Trevor Project video, featuring not only Beth but a number of other remarkable professionals who stepped forward in the same spirit of leadership. In my years in corporate communications, this was one of my most deeply meaningful projects.