In a win for LGBTQ+ small businesses, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) have signed a memorandum of understanding designed to make GSA contracting opportunities more accessible for LGBTQ-owned small businesses. GSA is an independent government agency that provides real estate, acquisition, and technology services to the U.S. government.
The two organizations will accomplish the goal established in the memorandum by providing info about GSA programs, services and events to local LGBTQ affiliate chambers of commerce across the U.S.
“Including LGBTQ-owned businesses in procurement is an essential best practice for every major industry you can think of, and now even more-so as governments are leaning into inclusion to ensure the best, brightest, and most innovative small businesses have a fair shot to succeed,” Jonathan Lovitz, special advisor to the NGLCC, said in a statement. He has spent over half a decade helping to write and pass LGBT Business Enterprise inclusion laws in over 30 U.S. cities and states.
“From federal agencies like the GSA, to Governors like ours in Pa. and next door in N.J., to city governments like our neighbors in Pittsburgh and dozens more across America, the public sector is rapidly catching up thanks to the NGLCC nationally, and local affiliates like the [Independence Business Alliance,]” which is Greater Philadelphia’s LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, Lovitz added.
The memorandum of understanding parallels the GSA’s Equity Action Plan, which is rooted in driving equity and supplier diversity in the area of federal procurement. It also backs the Biden-Harris Administration’s long-term initiative to lessen the economic and social roadblocks that burden underserved communities.
“We’re proud to partner with the [GSA] to help connect innovative, job-creating LGBTQ-owned businesses to contracting resources and opportunities in the federal government,” NGLCC co-founder and president Justin Nelson said in a press release. “Diversity is good for the business of government. The American Dream must be open to every American, including the 1.4 million LGBTQ business owners that help power the national economy.”
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Special Report on Small Business and LGBTQ+ Inclusion, 73% of small business owners said they think that LGBTQ business owners face more challenges than their cishet counterparts; 69% said they deem it important to do business with or invest in businesses owned by LGBTQ folks; 72% of business owners said they don’t mind losing customers as a result of supporting LGBTQ communities; 86% of respondents said they want to create an inclusive culture for customers; and 77% said they think it important to institute a formal workplace nondiscrimination policy that includes LGBTQ identities. The top three actions among millennial and younger business owners include: taking actionable steps to recruit LGBTQ employees, enacting LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policies and donating money to organizations that support LGBTQ communities.
Lovitz zeroed in on the issue of LGBTQ business inclusion in the city of Philadelphia. He referenced the power of collaboration seen through the Diverse Chambers Coalition of Philadelphia, made up of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware; the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia; the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Independence Business Alliance.
“Philadelphia’s Council must finally act to include certified LGBT Business Enterprises throughout city opportunities,” he said. “Collaboration and creating opportunities for all communities to thrive together is essential for the strong economy we urgently need in our city and Commonwealth. Being ‘open for business’ with every community should be a core priority for Philadelphia’s Commerce Department, as it is for nearly every major city in America.”