There are an estimated 1.4 million LGBTQ-owned businesses in America today contributing $1.7 trillion to the national economy. More than 1,000 of these businesses are officially certified as LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBE) by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
A discussion with Jacob Palalay, Senior Director of Corporate Relations for the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce
, about the economic contributions of LGBTQ businesses and the benefits of being certified as an LGBTBE.
Lisnek: America´s LGBTQ economy is bustling. 2015 alone, LGBTQ-owned businesses contributed over $1.7 trillion, with a "T," to the United States economy, creating more than 33,000 jobs in the United States. Hi, welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers". I´m Paul Lisnek, and with me to talk about America´s LGBTQ economy is Jacob Palalay. He´s the senior director of corporate relations with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Jacob, welcome to the show. Good to see you.
Palalay: Thank you, Paul. Good to be here.
Lisnek: What amazing numbers for the growth of LGBT businesses, but we need to draw a distinction, which is the businesses and those that get certified. Talk to me about the magic of being certified.
Palalay: So, the process of certification is creating opportunity, basically parity along minority and women-owned businesses. It´s what started this process. We certified the LGBT-owned businesses and create opportunity in supply chain for major companies.
Lisnek: And in terms of, say, the benefits for members, obviously it´s about owning, I believe, 51%?
Palalay: Correct. 51% owned and operated by an LGBT person or persons.
Lisnek: Is that essentially -- because, you know, we like to see equality. Is that essentially the only difference between non-LGBTQ members of the organization or any organization and this?
Palalay: Yeah. Essentially, well, yeah. We´re certifying, so, we have to meet the reporting standards for major companies, and we meet the industry standards for making sure that they´re LGBT people.
Lisnek: So, you are over 1,000 certified?
Palalay: Over 1,000 certified small businesses.
Lisnek: Not enough yet, right? So, tell me -- What´s the process of finding more?
Palalay: Well, the process of finding more -- reach out to our corporate partners. They often have a finger on understanding where the businesses are and where we should be speaking to those folks as well as our network of affiliate chambers. We have them spread across the country. Most major metropolitan areas are going to have an affiliate chamber we´re working with, and that allows us to have that insight into the local community.
Lisnek: So, we might very well have some LGBT members watching now, or not members, but people watching now who own those businesses. So, let´s give them a little message.
Palalay: Yeah, absolutely. If you´re watching this, you´re an LGBT business owner, and you´re not understanding this process, you can visit nglcc.org, and we can get you connected to the certification, but based on what the percentages are when we extrapolate that, we believe there are 1.4 million LGBT business owners in the country, and so having only certified 1,000, obviously, we have some work to do.
Lisnek: Yeah, but let´s talk about some of the benefits because one of the things that they get access to is the billion-dollar round table. That sounds pretty cool.
Palalay: The billion-dollar round table. There was a change last year to the billion-dollar round table as a group that´s -- It´s companies that spent over a billion dollars with diverse-owned businesses. Again, like other things, it started with minority and women-owned businesses, and last year, they expanded that to include LGBT and veteran-owned businesses. So, we´re happy that our businesses are being counted in the spin for companies that want to have that bragging right to have a billion dollars and spend with diverse-owned.
Lisnek: Part of the influence, I think, in business in general is also presence, a recognized presence of being in the community. I know the HRC Corporate Equality Index, the CEI -- the highest benchmark for LGBTQ inclusion in corporate America. Talk about that and that rating.
Palalay: Yeah, so the HRC Corporate Equality Index, it´s a fantastic measuring tool that they created, and we helped them expand part of this, and, essentially, a company should get full credit for a supplier diversity program. If you bend over backwards to make sure that LGBT inclusion is on par with these other groups that you´re working with, that should be scored differently. So, instead of being part of community involvement, it´s a standalone piece. We recognize their giveback to the LGBT community.
Lisnek: What kind of openness or resistance -- I don´t want to package it in either way -- do you get from businesses or non-LGBTQ businesses, in terms of their image, their views of what your organization is doing?
Palalay: It´s a little bit mixed, but, really, what it comes back to is, honestly, we´re thankful to have the opportunity to change people´s minds on things and expand the conversation. Everyone understands money, and really what this comes back to. So, other opportunities aside, we could have a conversation about things being the right thing to do and the importance of inclusion, but we´re able to speak to it with a dollar amount assigned to it, and when you say, "$1.7 trillion," it´s going to grab someone´s attention completely differently than me just saying, "Do this because it´s the right thing."
Lisnek: And when you say creating over 33,000 jobs, which is the number that could also be extrapolated out that ought to make a difference in Congress to people who are saying, "We´re all about jobs."
Palalay: Yeah, it absolutely should because, really, to measure supplier diversity, it´s about recognizing the economic impact of this, and it´s not just, "This is the number of businesses, or this is the number of spend," it´s that when you have an LGBT-owned business that´s thriving, they´re hiring other LGBT people. They´re hiring a diverse community. They´re giving back to their small community, and so it´s measuring that impact and what it does to raise a minority community up.
Lisnek: And I imagine one day it will be wonderful when nobody kind of pays attention to whether the business is gay-owned, not gay-owned, everyone is just all the same.
Palalay: It wouldn´t matter at one point. Yeah.
Lisnek: All right. We´ll count on that.
Palalay: All right.
Lisnek: Jacob, thanks for being with me.
Palalay: Thank you, Paul.
Lisnek: Jacob Palalay with the national LGBT Chamber of Commerce. I appreciate it. I appreciate you joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community across our country, just visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I´m Paul Lisnek. Bye-bye.