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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
November 17, 2006

Building an LGBT-friendly bank

Gay and lesbian chamber of commerce hears the details

Cleveland--Members of Northeast Ohio�s LGBT and allied chamber of commerce were welcomed to the headquarters of KeyBank on November 14, greeted with a presentation touting the bank�s commitment to diversity.

The event was originally slated to feature a speech by Charles Hyle, executive vice president handling issues of risk assessment, but he was called away suddenly.

Taking his place was Lorraine Vega, executive vice president of corporate diversity, whose interaction with the Plexus chamber of commerce group made the event possible.

Plexus President Eric Lutzo opened the presentation, which followed a social and networking reception catered by Key.

He then turned it over to his board vice president Thomas Hawn, who is also the senior vice president for market space segment at KeyBank.

Hawn presented facts and figures about Key�s reach, and his animated talk and occasional irreverent asides kept the almost 40 members of Plexus attentive.

He then introduced Vega, whose erudite and earnest explanation of her company�s efforts to ensure an open and accepting workplace for all employees impressed attendees.

She discussed employee working groups, specifically-focused groups of employees centered around ethnicity, religion, race or sexual orientation, and talked about how they can ensure that the company properly serves that constituency.

KeyBank�s gay and lesbian working group has been extremely active over the last three or four months, according to Hawn, who is one of its leaders. Once they have recommendations for improving service to the LGBT community, they can take those to executives and help with implementation.

Plexus formed out of Network Metro Cleveland and is affiliated with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month, and feature various speakers in different venues. There will not be a meeting in December.

The group is currently engaged in a fundraising drive for money to use for outreach, promotion, travel expenses and other uses. Hawn donated the first $1,000 of the $25,000 they hope to raise, and has offered to match the next $1,500 dollar-for-dollar.

Plexus will also begin holding some events outside of Cleveland, Lutzo announced, citing plans in the near future for presentations in Akron.

For more information, go to www.forwardthought.net/plexus.

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