Bringing LGBTQ businesses into the fold

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal
By Natalie Kostelni | December 6, 2018

When it comes to awarding government contracts, its common for municipalities and states to give minority and women-owned businesses an advantage and Philadelphia’s Mayor Jim Kenney has said the city will explore whether to include another under represented group — the LGBTQ businesses — as part of that process.

When they are included, it’s not at the exclusion of others but helps other diverse groups get business as well, said Jonathan D. Lovitz, senior vice president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “If you’re going to be inclusive, be fully inclusive,” Lovitz said. “It’s everybody’s pie.”

Or as Lovitz prefers to use a plate metaphor when it comes to providing LGBTQ businesses the same advantages and protections as racial minorities and women-owned firms when bidding on government contracts. Everyone gets the same-sized plate when making an attempt to win a contract, he said.

Other states including California and Massachusetts provide support for LGBTQ firms when it comes to bidding on government business but it’s a limited number that do. In August, Gov. Tom Wolf established the state’s first LGBT Affairs Commission to explore an array of issues that affect the community, including those related to LGBT businesses. A year earlier, Pennsylvania began to gather information as part of a study on identifying hurdles that diverse businesses face when trying to land state contracts. Philadelphia has explored initiating its own study.

Large corporations have been at the forefront of embracing the LGBTQ community and promoting diversity as being good business, Lovitz said, and that has set the stage for others to embrace the LGBTQ business community on other levels. The bottom line is that LGBT businesses want “equal opportunity at the table,” he said.

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce represents 1.4 million business owners who contribute $1.7 billion to the economy.