By Sam McClure
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is proud to be a part of celebrating the 40th anniversary of America’s very first LGBT business organization, the Golden Gate Business Association. As we look forward to the bold future of economic advancement for LGBT business owners, we are grateful to the pioneers who were at center of the earliest community organizing right here in San Francisco. The vision and mission of the NGLCC was built on the shoulders of this legacy. We must all honor the important work of the early days by working together for a bold future!
The NGLCC created the LGBT Supplier Diversity Initiative in 2004 with a laser focus on bringing significant economic opportunities to businesses owned by LGBT people. The climate for inclusion of LGBT people in corporate America was good. Corporations were already inclusive in their marketing efforts and employment policies. What was missing was intentional inclusion of LGBT businesses in corporate procurement and supply chain. Put simply, companies were not buying back from the LGBT community.
The biggest challenge was that there wasn’t a simple way to identify, recruit and nurture these businesses. The NGLCC became the exclusive certification body for the LGBT owned business enterprise (LGBTBE). This groundbreaking initiative is explained in detail at www.nglcc.org We looked closely at the existing certifications for women and minority-owned businesses and modeled our certification after those established certifications and began to advocate for opportunities for certified LGBTBEs.
Unlike minority and woman-owned enterprises (MWBEs), LGBTBEs did not have any public policy mandates to require inclusion. The NGLCC began working closely with top corporations to demonstrate the strong business case for the inclusion of LGBTBEs. The market latched on to the business case for full inclusion very quickly and today over one-third of the Fortune 500 recognize the LGBTBE Business Enterprise Certification and actively seek out LGBTBEs to contribute to their supply chains.
Despite the lack of public mandates for LGBT inclusion, the NGLCC worked closely with the Department of Commerce to ensure that the doors of opportunity for federal contracting were open to certified LGBTBEs. The historic Memorandums of Understandings that resulted from this work have opened doors for federal contracting opportunities as well as international trade. The NGLCC has led two fully sanctioned U.S. trade missions specifically for LGBTBEs to Colombia and Mexico.
In close partnership with the GGBA and our six other local California affiliate chambers, the NGLCC recently made history when Gov. Brown signed California AB1678 into law. This historic legislation brings the very first mandate for intentional inclusion of LGBTBEs to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
Moving forward, we all share a new and exciting challenge in California. We must all work together at the national and local level to identify, certify and nurture the hundreds of thousands of LGBT owned businesses in California. We must make these businesses aware of the millions of dollars of opportunities that are now available because of this historic change in the CPUC. This is a very powerful moment for all of us to come together and build an even stronger movement to advance the economic strength of the LGBT community in California. The moment to ensure a bold future for certified LGBTBEs in California is now!
Sam McClure is NGLCC’s Vice President of Affiliate Relations and External Affairs.