Message from GGBA leadership: Are you LGBTQ certified? – San Francisco Bay Times

By Terry Beswick–

A few months ago, when I took on this new position leading the Bay Area LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, there was a lot of industry jargon that I had previously been unaware of.

“Diversity of Suppliers.” “Procurement Goals.” “LGBTBE certified.”

At first, I frankly found the latter amusing and often joked about it with friends and potential members. “Are you LGBTQ certified? I would ask them, and they invariably would say, “How do you get LGBTQ certified?” Do I need to provide supporting documents? Like what, video proof?? And what will it bring me anyway? Reduced theater tickets? »

These are all great questions, giving me an opening to explain what LGBTQ Business Enterprise certification is and what it could do for their businesses.

Supplier diversity

Like many progressive gay San Franciscans, I have developed a somewhat yellowish view of big business over the years. And yet, not all companies are alike; some have good environmental and employment practices, for example.

But the fact is that big companies are like small countries and have budgets of billions and billions of dollars that they spend on contractors and subcontractors all over the world. They have to hire suppliers to make everything work, from construction to catering, from marketing to IT, from travel to decoration, and everything in between.

And many of these companies, as well as government agencies, want to hire LGBTQ-owned vendors. In fact, all of the companies that sponsor the GGBA have supplier diversity sourcing targets, in which they aim to contract with an increasing number of minority-owned, women-owned, disabled-owned, veterans and/or LGBTQ people.

It’s good for business

They’ve realized that not only is it the right thing to do, it’s also good for business and they become stronger and more competitive as they become more diverse and inclusive throughout their supply chain. ‘supply.

It’s actually a huge priority within corporate governance these days, and progress in this area should generally be reported in annual reports to shareholders and on company websites. A few years ago, the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index began requiring companies to make efforts to include LGBTBEs in their supply chains in order to receive a score of 100. And they rightly like to cheat those scores during Pride season.

Like everything else, some are better than others, of course, in terms of setting and meeting supplier diversity goals, and often LGBTQ contracts represent less than 1% of a company’s annual spend. But even 1% of a billion dollars is a lot of money.

The 1.5% rule

This month, the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to finalize a new rule that would set a target for utilities of 1.5% in contracts with certified LGBT business enterprises, phased in over the next few years. This rule is now being hailed as an important precedent that can serve as a model for other state and local governments across the country, more clearly placing LGBTQ-owned businesses under the umbrella of historically disadvantaged communities deserving of inclusive access to opportunity. commercial.

All of these trends in corporate and government contracts offer great hope for economic empowerment and greater equity for our diverse LGBTQ communities, but there is a catch.

Currently, even though 5-10% of the population is LGBTQ, there are not enough certified LGBTQ-owned businesses to meet the supplier diversity goals of all of these companies and government agencies. And for those who have been certified, it is often difficult to break into procurement bureaucracies and secure the contracts they want.

Obtain certification

But the good news is that many people are working on these issues, including the Golden Gate Business Association, and progress is being made every day. And you can help!

If you’re LGBTQ and own a small business, get certified. If you join the GGBA, your certification fees are waived and you will also receive all the benefits of being a member of your regional LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce. We will put you in touch with our national certification body to guide you through the fairly simple certification process. No video proof required.

The statewide clearinghouse for various vendors says it wants LGBTBEs from all walks of life. If you make leather handbags, get certified. If you make croissants, get certified. If you’re a florist, get certified. If you build websites, get certified. Businesses and agencies want your lesbian, gay, bi or trans products and services, and the more of us who join this movement, the stronger our community will be.

For more information on certification as an LGBT business enterprise, visit

Terry Beswick is the executive director of the Golden Gate Business Association.

GGBA Calendar

Wednesday March 16
DEI: Responding to biases and microaggressions at work
Noon–2 p.m.
In line

Did you know that unconscious bias can affect your business in many ways, from diversity and retention rates to undermining recruitment efforts and employee development? Microaggressions can also have a profound impact on your team. They justify inequalities, reinforce stereotypes and reinforce destructive power dynamics. Learn to spot them and fight them. Bring your lunch to this free online event hosted by Nancy Geenen, who is an accomplished entrepreneur, advocate and strategic facilitator.

Wednesday March 30
LGBTQ Real Estate Group Mixer
5.30–7.30 p.m.
At Manny’s
3092 16th Street, SF
Free in-person networking event for GGBA members and real estate industry professionals. Complimentary wine/beer and light refreshments. Hosted by GGBA and Garret Groenveld of Guaranteed Rate. Register in advance!

Posted on March 10, 2022

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