(New York, NY October 11, 2017) –Cornerstone Capital Group joined Lambda Legal in calling on the Supreme Court to affirm employment discrimination protections for LGBT people.  Cornerstone Capital Group together with 75 other companies filed a friend-of-the-court brief today in support of a federal lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether sexual orientation discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The unprecedented Cornerstone Capital Group support for Civil Rights Act coverage was one of several briefs submitted to high court in the case. Others included ## states; LGBT rights groups, and law professors.

The case is brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of Jameka Evans, a Savannah security guard who was harassed at work and forced from her job because she is a lesbian. The amicus brief, authored by attorneys at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP and Shapiro Arato LLP, urges the Court to review Jameka Evans’s case and rule that LGBT employees are protected from discrimination under federal law because it is good for Cornerstone Capital Group and good for the U.S. economy.

Cornerstone CEO Erika Karp said “Cornerstone Capital is deeply committed to social justice and will  fight on the side of right reflected in this case. Divisiveness and exclusion are bad formulas for business and society.”

“We are glad that Cornerstone Capital Group is standing with us to oppose discrimination against the LGBT community at work and to ask the Supreme Court to give them a clear uniform rule for the entire country that provides LGBT employees the same dignity at work as anyone else,” said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Project Director. “Cornerstone Capital Group knows that when hard-working employees like Jameka can bring their whole selves to work, they are a more valuable asset to the company. It is better for Cornerstone Capital Group and better for the country’s economy. When LGBT people are forced to work in the closet, it only hurts a company’s bottom line.”

The amicus brief filed today argues that businesses have done the cost benefit analysis and concluded that making sure the Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation is better for both workers and employers. Providing protections for LGBT workers allows companies to recruit and retain better employees, generate better ideas from the diversity of experiences and perspectives, and increase productivity from employees who feel respected at work.

The case is Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital. Read the amicus brief here.

Editor’s note: Ms Foundation has just released a new report: “Centering Black Women, Girls, Gender Nonconforming People and Fem(me)s in Campaigns For Expanded Sanctuary and Freedom Cities,” by Andrea Ritchie and Monique Morris (National Black Women’s Justice Institute). Below we share the executive summary. Download the full report here: https://forwomen.org/resources/sanctuary-city-report/

Centering Black Women, Girls, Gender Nonconforming People and Fem(mes) in Campaings for Expanded Sanctuary and Freedom Cities: A Policy Brief by Andrew J. Richie and Monique W. Morris, Ed.D.


In recent decades, as anti-immigrant rhetoric has intensified and policing, detention, and deportations of immigrants have dramatically increased, social movements have responded with calls for the creation of sanctuary spaces, institutions and cities offering protections to immigrants. In response, a growing number of municipalities have declared themselves “sanctuary cities” by enacting administrative policies and legislation limiting collaboration with federal immigration authorities to varying degrees. In the wake of 2017 federal executive orders and a proposed 2018 federal budget advancing an agenda of mass deportation which relies on criminalization of immigrants as both a mechanism and justification for deportation and exclusion, immigrant rights and racial justice groups have issued renewed – and expanded – calls for sanctuary. Progressive legislators and institutions have responded to this call to action – and to attacks on “Sanctuary Cities” by the federal government – by recommitting to protecting immigrant communities.

Organizations like BYP100, Mijente, and Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) are also going beyond existing frameworks to call for sanctuary for all communities experiencing aggressive criminalization, policing, and incarceration, including and especially Black communities, both immigrant and U.S. born, launching national campaigns for “Expanded Sanctuary” and “Freedom Cities.” Building on municipalities’ and institutions’ declared intentions to resist federal efforts to target immigrants by remaining or becoming “sanctuary cities,” these campaigns call on policymakers – and on all of us – to not only resist egregious federal efforts to coerce cities and counties to participate in discriminatory and harsh immigration enforcement efforts, but also to dream bigger and do more. Expanded Sanctuary and Freedom City campaigns call for an end to all policing and immigration enforcement practices that target Black and Brown communities, immigrant and U.S. born. They also call on us to envision and build the communities we want, through reinvestment of resources away from surveillance, punishment and exclusion and toward addressing community needs. Focusing on shared experiences of racial profiling, criminalization, and exclusion between immigrant and U.S. born Black and Brown communities offers opportunities to build bridges across divides of race, immigration status, gender, sexuality, and faith in a time of division and scapegoating. It also facilitates building strong coalitions rooted in mutual aid and shared commitment to protecting all members of our communities.

A rallying cry of campaigns for Expanded Sanctuary and Freedom Cities has been “Black people need sanctuary too” – referring not only to Black immigrants, but also affirming that non-immigrant Black communities are entitled to protections from police profiling, discriminatory and abusive policing, as well as collaboration between police and other public institutions such as schools and hospitals that contribute to criminalization and mass incarceration, in the same ways that immigrants are entitled to protection. In this policy brief, we expand and deepen that call to say “Black women, girls, gender nonconforming people and fem(me)s need sanctuary too!” and outline a series of concrete steps policymakers, institutions and communities can take to protect Black women, girls, trans and gender nonconforming people.

Often invisible in conversations about profiling, policing, criminalization, mass incarceration and deportation, Black women, girls, and fem(me)s face unique forms and sites of criminalization, state violence, and intra-community violence. It is essential that as we dream of Expanded Sanctuary and Freedom Cities, we center Black women, girls, and fem(me)s in our vision, advocacy, organizing, and implementation. In order to protect Black women, girls, gender nonconforming people and fem(me)s sanctuary cities, institutions, and spaces must:

• Offer the maximum degree of protection from information sharing and collaboration between police, public and private institutions, and immigration authorities;

• Protect sensitive locations such as churches, hospitals, health care, and birthing facilities, shelters, courtrooms, social service agencies, foster care facilities, schools and other learning institutions and other locations where Black women and girls may be vulnerable from immigration enforcement agents;

• Decriminalize offenses most likely to funnel Black women and girls into the criminal and deportation systems, including drug offenses, “broken windows” and poverty-based offenses, and prostitution-related offenses, and offenses imposing higher penalties on people living with HIV;

• Create and support culturally competent pre-arrest diversion programs;

• Eliminate mandatory arrest policies;

• Remove police and end criminalization of students in schools and other learning environments;

• Protect women, girls, trans and gender nonconforming people from gender-specific police abuses including police sexual violence and violations of the rights of trans and gender nonconforming people;

• Imagine, develop, implement, and assess community-based responses to violence that will ensure safety for Black women, girls, gender nonconforming people and fem(me)s within our families, homes, relationships, communities, and institutions.

Finally, beyond providing sanctuary or building toward freedom by challenging and eliminating immigration enforcement and policing practices that cause harm to Black women, we have a responsibility to create conditions that will ensure safety from intrapersonal and intra-communal violence for Black women, girls, gender nonconforming people and fem(me)s.

Monique W. Morris, Ed.D. is an award-winning author and social justice scholar with nearly three decades of experience in the areas of education, civil rights, juvenile and social justice. Dr. Morris is the author of Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (The New Press, 2016), Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century (The New Press, 2014), and Too Beautiful for Words (MWM Books, 2012). She worked with Kemba Smith on her book, Poster Child: The Kemba Smith Story (IBJ Book Publishing, 2011) and has written dozens of articles, book chapters, and other publications on social justice issues and lectured widely on research, policies, and practices associated with improving juvenile justice, educational, and socioeconomic conditions for Black girls, women, and their families.

Andrea J. Ritchie is a Black lesbian immigrant, attorney, policy advocate and consultant, and a Researcher in Residence on Race, Gender, Sexuality and Criminalization at the Barnard Center for Research on Women. She is is a nationally recognized expert and sought-after commentator on policing issues, and the author of Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women (Beacon Press, 2017) and co-author of Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women and Girls (AAPF, 2015) and Queer (In)Justice: Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (Beacon Press 2011).

At Hetrick-Martin Institute, the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit service provider focused on serving LGBTQ youth, we know resilience when we see it. In the financial and risk industries, building resilience is about helping companies or governments achieve success in an ever-changing world of challenges. When it comes to building resilience among young people, the strategies might look different, but the results — clients that thrive — are very much the same.

40% of homeless youth identify at lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), yet LGBT youth represent only an estimated 7% of all youth in the US. Why are the numbers so high for LGBT young people and what can we do to help?  While there are many, often compounding, reasons that youth experience homelessness, family rejection is the leading cause among LGBTQ youth. Over 30% of LGBTQ youth reported being kicked out of their homes when they came out and many face negative reactions from their families and communities.

Looking to the the broader world outside of home: discrimination, rejection, and violence against LGBTQ youth persists. When asked, the majority of young people reported witnessing acts of violent discrimination towards LGBTQ people at school. When it comes to safe working environments, over 90% of transgender people asked reported experiencing discrimination in the work place. The data gives us examples of the challenges and shows that these challenges exist for LGBTQ youth across many different environments. What is needed is a two-pronged approach to meet the immediate needs of young people and meet the need for systemic change to make environments safer and more inclusive for LGBTQ youth.

Emery Hetrick and Damien Martin, founders of Hetrick-Martin Institute, set out to tackle both when they heard the personal story of a young man who was assaulted and kicked out of his group home for being gay. They immediately recognized that self-realization starts with safety. A young person needs to feel safe before they’ll sit and have a bite to eat, before they can pause to talk about their day, before they can look around and evaluate their life goals. So we start with safety. We create safe spaces for youth to be themselves, to explore themselves, to questions themselves, to access safe housing, to have a hot meal, to seek legal and medical support, to learn to read, to learn to add, to learn what life has to offer. But beyond the walls of a safe space, how does one bring change into the world? Advocacy.

Being able to present, share and discuss discordant points of view is the heart of social progress. HMI teaches its young people to self-advocate on the interpersonal level and also on the systemic level. There are government officials and state institutions ready to learn, ready to talk, and ready to expand the ways they serve us, we the people… we the people need to build up the tools we are giving to the next generation to build safer and more supportive communities, that won’t reject or forget those who are different or “other.”

Including all-too-often marginalized young people in the conversation, we can begin to shift the paradigm, recognizing the historically described voices of the oppressed as the powerful leaders of tomorrow, the voices of the resilient. That is why honoring our leaders and visionaries at galas and luncheons, like the WOMEN WHO LEAD event on April 28th, where we will be honoring Erika Karp and Fern Mallis, are so important. The bravery and intention that moves us forward as a society needs to be celebrated to give our young people something to work towards and something to aspire to… proof that being tenacious and resilient and taking steps towards change can lead to so much more than the next step, and it can lead to more than career success, it can lead to a stronger community and better society for all of us.

For more information go to: www.hmi.org/womenwholead

Ross Schwartz is a recognized New York public relations professional, LGBTQ activist and advocate for social justice. He serves as the Communications Director at Hetrick-Martin Institute.

This session brings together a group of leading chief executive officers who will discuss their experiences of diversity and inclusion. What role does the chief executive officer play in influencing the board? What obstacles can get in the way of progress and how can they be overcome? How do CEOs view and encourage activation and engagement within their organisations? How can reverse mentoring help CEOs and senior leadership teams to gain a better understanding of the issues?

Speakers: Peter Arvai, chief executive, Prezi

Erika Karp, founder and chief executive, Cornerstone Capital Inc.

Mike Pedersen, group head, U.S. Banking, TD Bank Group; president and chief executive, TD Bank

Moderator: Tom Standage, Deputy editor, The Economist

In August of 2016, StartOut delivered its inaugural study investigating the state of LGBT entrepreneurship in the United States.  Focusing exclusively on emerging high-growth companies with a sample size of 140 LGBT entrepreneurs, this study is the most comprehensive of its kind, and is intended to paint a clearer picture of the LGBT entrepreneurial experience in the US. To supplement data gathered from the entrepreneurs, StartOut researchers also surveyed 87 early-stage angel and venture capital investors. We then conducted in-depth interviews with ten LGBT entrepreneurs and five early-stage investors. Finally we culled public data sources and StartOut’s membership list to compare 6,703 LGBT growth entrepreneurs with 92,096 entrepreneurs whose orientation was straight or unknown.

When analyzing the data and survey sets as well as the more in-depth qualitative interviews of founders and investors we began to uncover trends around LGBT founder profiles, their location and migration patterns around launching their business, their willingness to present their authentic selves as part of the financing process, and their success or lack thereof in raising capital. StartOut researchers were additionally able to delve into investor mindsets around investing with diversity within their portfolios and the impact of diversity on portfolio performance. Following are several key themes and trends that emerged from the research. For more detail please download StartOut’s full study, The State of LGBT Entrepreneurship in the US.

LGBT Entrepreneurs in Investor Portfolios

With regard to the profile of LGBT growth entrepreneurs we found that:

startoutfig1 startoutfig2

Three Themes Emerged from the Data

Implications for Stakeholders

As we reflected on the research results we found that “Out” is relevant. Possibly to business performance in both positive and negative ways. But certainly to the early-stage entrepreneur–investor relationship. While it is not necessarily appropriate to “test” investors by announcing upfront, “I’m LGBT and I’m raising capital,” it does behoove LGBT entrepreneurs as they build relationships with potential investors to be authentic and forthcoming about personal aspects of their lives as they come up in conversation. That authenticity helps create trust that can strengthen the business connection going forward.

Perhaps one way to avoid having to find a way to elegantly insert the coming out process into conversations is to publicly signal LGBT affiliation in social media profiles like LinkedIn by using membership in organizations like StartOut or the LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Knowing that investors use these data sources in their due diligence process allows that information to be tacitly conveyed prior to discussions.

More role models are needed. Aside from Tim Gill and Michael Kors there are few very visible successful LGBT entrepreneurs showcased in the popular media. Millennials are less inclined to be “out” at work than older, more established LGBT workers with only 5% of LGBT young people ages 18 to 24 being totally open at work versus 32% of LGBT people ages 35 to 44. Evidence shows there is still a penalty to be paid for this openness – almost 40% of LGBT workers report discrimination and harassment when they are “out” at work, compared with the 10% who experience the same challenges while closeted[1].


LGBT founders need to consider broadening the industries they choose to innovate in. With over half of LGBT founders focusing on internet/media and consumer goods/recreation startups, they find themselves competing in industries with relatively low cost of entry, lacking in intellectual property barriers to entry and receiving only 6% of angel dollars and 14% of VC investment.

It’s time to include the LGBT community when thinking of diversity in investment. Our research shows we are an active source of emerging high-growth businesses. An LGBT inclusive diversity policy can help attract deal flow and increase return on investment.

For investors, funds and syndicates interested in LGBT diversity within their portfolio companies, it may be necessary to actively signal this acceptance of LGBT founders to lower the risks of LGBT people in coming out during the process.

Given that young LGBT people in general tend to migrate towards states and municipalities with higher levels of tolerance for difference, investors seeking LGBT entrepreneurs would do well to expand their geographic parameters to source opportunities in New York and the Great Lakes regions in particular where LGBT entrepreneurs are over-represented relative to current investment dollars.

In recent years, the LGBT community has gained substantial positive representation and visibility in politics, entertainment, Corporate America and even professional sports, culminating in the June 2015 Supreme Court Decision legalizing marriage in all 50 states. While there is much to celebrate there is more work to do.

Since the mid-twentieth century demographers have struggled to gain an accurate picture of the number of LGBT people in the United States and these data remain elusive today. While the collective buying power of US LGBT adults is estimated at $884 billion, much less is known about the LGBT community’s contributions to driving economic growth. StartOut’s inaugural report, The State of LGBT Entrepreneurship in the U.S., is a launch point in the economic discussion of the important role LGBT entrepreneurs play in American entrepreneurship. As entrepreneurial activity plays an increasingly important role in the overall U.S. economy, the goal of this and subsequent research is to provide more clarity, visibility, and contour around the experiences and contributions of LGBT entrepreneurs.

About StartOut

Economic equality is a critical step along the continuum of progress for the LGBT community. While LGBT people are often stereotyped as being affluent the reality is the opposite: 21% of LGBT people have an income of less than $12,000 per year, versus 4% of the general population[2]. The LGBT community has made political strides, yet the economic playing field is not level for our community when compared to the rest of Americans.

Founded in 2009, StartOut’s mission is to enable economic empowerment for our community through entrepreneurship. We do this by supporting LGBT entrepreneurs and the next generation of business leaders. With six chapters and a growing constituency across the US, we hold educational and inspirational events; connect qualified LGBT entrepreneurs to investors; provide mentorship for lesbians and enable digital and in-person networking for our members. Through our events, networking platform and research program, we will continue to enable LGBT entrepreneurship in the U.S. and shine a light on any inequalities that hinder progress for our community.

Waverly Deutsch, PhD, is Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Her research focuses on the execution issues entrepreneurs face as they grow their businesses, especially marketing, sales, operations and team building.

Vivienne Ming, PhD, is a theoretical neuroscientist, technologist and entrepreneur. She co-founded Socos, where machine learning and cognitive neuroscience combine to maximize students’ life outcomes. Vivienne is also a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, where she pursues her research in neuroprosthetics.

Mary Shea, PhD, is a Principal Analyst serving Forrester’s B2B Marketing Professionals. Her research looks at how go-to-market organizations can prioritize and maximize their sales enablement investments. Mary is also an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the Booth School of Business.

Chris Sinton is an Internet and philanthropic trailblazer. In 1994, at Cisco Systems, he pioneered the B2B Internet with cisco.com identifying, articulating and helping create a new business paradigm. In 2000, as an early driver of digital philanthropy, he saw that as the Internet changed the way business was done, it had could change the way people helped each other.

[1]    “A Survey of LGBT Americans”, Pew Research Center—Social & Demographic Trends, June 2013

[2]   “Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being LGBT in America”, Center for American Progress & Movement         Advancement Project, November 2014

StartOut, the national non-profit organization dedicated to fostering and developing entrepreneurship in the LGBT community, will honor Cornerstone Capital Group Founder and CEO Erika Karp with the 2016 Wells Fargo Leadership Award in recognition of her accomplishments and personal commitment to support LGBTQ entrepreneurs. The award will be presented at a gala event on Sept. 23rd at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco.

In acknowledging the citation, Derek Yach, Chief Health Officer of the Vitality Group and founding Chairman of the Board of Directors at Cornerstone stated: “Erika’s consistent leadership in promoting LBGTQ entrepreneurship echoes her broader work aimed at advancing societal progress for all through capitalism imbued with societal purpose and impact. Richly deserved and a signal for others to join her.”

Jostein Solheim, CEO at Ben & Jerry’s, who serves on Cornerstone Capital’s Advisory Council added: “Erika is an outstanding entrepreneur and business leader who brings a sense of community and compassion to everything thing she does. Her vision for capitalism will bring real sustainability and equality for everyone along with a solid return for her investors. I am so proud of her achievements and this is a well-deserved recognition.”

“Erika’s advocacy – no matter what the cause – is posited kindly, strongly, humanely, and compellingly,” said Dan Bena, Senior Director at PepsiCo and Honorary Professor, Glasgow Caledonian University.

As the premiere nonprofit organization for LGBTQ entrepreneurs, StartOut supports economic empowerment by offering unique programs and resources that accelerate success, instill pride, and bring recognition for LGBTQ entrepreneurs across the United States and beyond.  Each year, it recognizes individuals and organizations who are dedicated to advancing equality and have made a significant impact on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied individuals.

Recognition marks outstanding achievement and support of LGBT entrepreneurs

The Leadership Award recognizes an entrepreneur whose career and accomplishments have had a profound effect on the LGBT entrepreneurial ecosystem. Past awardees include actor/activist George Takei, tech columnist and author Kara Swisher, software entrepreneur Tim Gill, philanthropist Kathy Levinson and venture capitalist Amy Errett and former PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

“This feels like a wonderful affirmation of the vision we’re pursuing at Cornerstone. Together, through ‘impact entrepreneurship,’ we can re-ignite the engines of economic growth,” said Karp.

Among this year’s honorees: Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy at Airbnb; Stephanie Lampkin, Founder & CEO of Blendoor, a recruiting application that mitigates unconscious bias in hiring; social marketing pioneer Jeff Ragovin (now at Ragovin Ventures); Joel Simkhai Founder and CEO of Grindr LLC, whose highly popular dating and social discovery apps include Grindr and Blendr; and Here Media, publishers of Advocate, OUT, pride.com and HereMedia TV.

More About Erika Karp here.
More About StartOut here.
See the Sept. 23rd Event Gallery here.

Sustainability and the IRO: Linking Diversity

A conversation at Bloomberg with Erika Karp, founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group, and Greg Elders, senior ESG analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence

As a gay woman, investment executive and entrepreneur, Karp explains how diversity and sustainability are linked, because diversity of thought, experience, perspective and style allow for the observation of what’s going on in the world and bring energy, creativity and innovation to business and finance: ‘Diversity is painful but profitable.’