Gay and lesbian business owners head to White House for launch of small business initiative
March 20, 2009
Be sure to surf over to Bilerico DC to read the post by HRC Business Council member Wes Combs and Bob Witeck of Witeck-Combs Communications about gay business owners being included in a White House briefing when President Obama announced his new small business initiative on Monday, March 16. This is certainly a welcomed departure from the Bush administration:
Diversity is only a mantra unless it is put into action by ensuring inclusion at all levels of an organization. First, President Obama reinstated a key position that had existed during the Clinton years - the White House Liaison to the LGBT Community. The selection of Brian Bond to be Deputy Director for the White House Office of Public Liaison as well as the Administration's point person on LGBT outreach is a promising start. Brian brought his skills from his leadership experience at the Democratic National Committee, as well as his successful stewardship of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and he knows the terrain well. He is able to quickly engage many talented members of the community to assist the Administration in thinking through complex issues that impact all Americans. .... Some may remember in past years, members of the LGBT community however were often included in Administration discussions for such specific policy issues as dealing with hate crimes or strategies to lift the military ban and to undo "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." But, to think of diversity in this way today would be the same as including Hispanics solely for discussions about immigration policy, for example. Our community's unique priorities such as enactment of an inclusive ENDA, fair-minded tax policies, federal hate crimes legislation and achieving full, open military service, for example, will be the acid test for successful policy - there's no question. Yet bringing all of us to all of the critical discussions is the right formula for achieving the best policies for all Americans.
HRC's Workplace Project and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce produced a guide (PDF) in 2007 to help small business owners and managers build workplaces where LGBT employees are valued. Also, check out HRC's information on how supplier diversity programs that include LGBT-owned businesses can establish win-win relationships between both LGBT-owned small businesses and the businesses that contract them.