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June 29, 2017

Marketers have been targeting the LGBT community for decades, and for good reason.

Corporations have consistently been making progress with workplace rights, anti-discrimination policies, supplier diversity recognition, domestic and same-sex marriage benefits and positive trans policies, thanks in part to the tireless work of national organizations like HRC, NGLCC, GLAAD, and Out & Equal, to name a few.

As we wrap up our month of Pride-focused blog content, let’s take a look at the roll of the small LGBT-owned business in this complex ecosystem. Is it time to step back and be proud of this progress? Is there more work to do? What does the future hold?

LGBT Businesses Have Major Impact

A recent study by the NGLCC showed that all LGBT business owners across the United States contribute $1.7 trillion to the economy. Yes, trillion, with a “t.” More than 900 certified LGBT Business Enterprises created more than 33,000 new jobs.

Infographic: NGLCC

This means that businesses, not just LGBT citizens, have MASSIVE economic power. Power that politicians, corporations and communities need to recognize. Something to be proud of? You bet.

Diversity and Inclusion Are Tangible Ideals

Our current political and socio-economic climate has amplified emotions, bigoted practices and fears. White privilege is more prevalent than ever while people of color, women and our transgender people continue to be underserved and left behind. Corporations and community partners must embrace more diversity and inclusion now to avoid sacrificing fair civil rights for everyone. Plus, there is huge value in embracing these practices, beyond the fact that it is the right thing to do. Many companies and states still do not offer workplace discrimination protections (I am looking at you, Pennsylvania), partner benefits and proper healthcare or benefits for transgender people.

Infographic: The Williams Institute

And while that effort continues, sometimes successfully and sometimes slow, it’s America’s small LGBT business that can make the biggest impact in this area.  I can say with certainty that the place where the rubber meets the road is with the mom and pop shops, local nonprofits and city agencies. Reason to be proud of? Not yet. There is so much more work to do. Small LGBT businesses can lead by example here and need to do so with more transparency and conviction than ever.

More Voices = More Creativity and Innovation

Here’s us. 

I’m proud of our diverse ChatterBlast team of voices from all ages, backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual identities and perspectives.

  • Does this make our creative efforts stronger for our clients?
  • Does it allow us to add true perspective and new ideas to our outreach campaigns?
  • Does it help make our office culture wonderful and unique?

Yes, all of the above.

It’s been studied and proven for some time. Diverse voices create more innovation. Small business are naturally able to pivot, change, experiment and innovate by definition. But small LGBT businesses seem to have even more of an advantage here.

I’m proud of the role that small LGBT businesses play in our community. I know they add creativity, value, fun and important perspectives to everyone they touch.

I’m proud of the work put in by corporate America for advancing workplace rights for LGBT people.

I’m proud of the nonprofit community and local organizations who push forward every day. Let’s be thankful for progress, support and collaboration.

I’m proud to recognize that we have A LOT more to do and that the time is now to be open, transparent and loud about these conversations.

Let’s raise the chatter level on these subjects so we can be even more proud next June.

Evan Urbania is CEO of ChatterBlast Media, founding Board member and former President of the Independence Business Alliance, and a city commissioner on the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs.

About the Author

Evan Urbania

Evan Urbania is the CEO and Co-Founder of ChatterBlast Media. He can often be found cycling, reading obscure tech blogs, teasing the office dog or getting bored with new social media apps.

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