NEW YORK, N.Y. — Out Leadership launched an expanded Out Leadership (OL) Cafe with the support of partner Ten Thousand Coffees, offering extended networking and talent development opportunities to members across the globe in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The platform matches professionals based on their career goals for conversation — all online. It is available across our more than 80 Out Leadership member firms, free until the end of 2020.

The Out Leadership Cafe is powered by Ten Thousand Coffees’ proprietary Smart Matching technology, that introduces members based on their interests and skillsets. The platform sends introduction emails, conversation starters, and captures data to curate the next introduction to the members’ preferences.

The move to remote work has been a major challenge for organizations, which is why OL was quick to expand the  partnership. Keeping professionals engaged and focused on development is on the minds of all people leaders. Last year, Cigna reported that remote workers are more likely than non-remote workers to feel alone. Further, lonely workers say they are less engaged and less productive. It’s business-critical to provide professionals with the opportunity to network, build relationships and learn from one another to now, more than ever.

Out Leadership is ramped up in digital engagement after a successful pilot supporting 500 LGBTQ professionals, scaling the program to the 15 industries and 80 plus member firms where Out Leadership has a presence. CEO, Todd Sears said:

“We know that when our members have connections and networks, they’re more successful and engaged. This program will help every member learn and share with others from around the world based on their mutual career goals and interests. Now that we’re all remote, it made sense to scale up this tried and true solution.”

Sears added, “Professionals are feeling anxious and isolated. Networking events have been canceled and meeting someone to connect over coffee is not as simple as it was 2 months ago. We’ve had great success with the OutNEXT pilot and are now providing virtual ‘coffee chats’ to give members networking and learning opportunities no matter where they’re working.”

Pilot results showed that 95 percent of members built a new connection that was valuable to their current or future career; 2,670 developmental experiences were formed between OutNEXT pilot participants based on each members’ individual career goals and interests; and members were most interested in networking to share best practices, mentoring, expanding their network and furthering diversity and inclusion initiatives

Dave Wilkin, founder, and CEO of Ten Thousand Coffees added:

“Professionals rely on the water cooler or events to make the connections they need to succeed, these are now unavailable and postponed indefinitely. Our platform will provide OUT members with connectivity and virtual development experiences. No matter how far away people may feel, this solution will keep them building new relationships, sharing ideas and feeling connected. Making the OL Cafe available to everyone is a critical move now that the ‘water cooler moment’ is no longer.”


Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.