You’ve probably seen us mention the NGLCC and GGBA here on the site and on our LinkedIn page with some regularity.
Today, we sat down with John Henning to learn more about what these organizations are, what they do, and how we partner with them to promote diversity and inclusion.
Q: So, first things first: what are the NGLCC and GGBA? How are they related, and what do they do?
A: The NGLCC is the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The NGLCC is the business voice of the LGBT community, providing advocacy and expanding economic opportunity, and is the exclusive certifying body for LGBT-owned businesses.
The GGBA is the local affiliate chamber of the NGLCC for San Francisco and the East and North Bay areas. The GGBA is the world’s first LGBT chamber of commerce and is now celebrating its 45 year of service to the San Francisco Bay Area community. The mission of the GGBA is to provide advocacy, education and economic empowerment for LGBT-owned businesses.
Q: And can you tell us a little more about GSG’s relationship with each organization?
A: Granite Solutions Groupe has been certified by the NGLCC as an LGBT-owned Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) since January of 2009. We started supporting the GGBA in 2014 through the affiliate recertification process for national NGLCC certification, and in 2016 joined the GGBA as a corporate sponsor. Later that year, I joined the board of the GGBA and have worked in various areas including Public Policy, Advocacy, Member Programming, Corporate Sponsorship registration and GSG has sponsored improvements to the GGBA’s website, travel for foreign dignitaries to GGBA events and represented the GGBA at meetings with NGLCC leadership.
Q: You spent last week at a NGLCC National Conference in Tampa. Can you tell us about that experience?
A: GSG has been represented at the national conference every year since joining, and this year I went with my colleague Matt Kussman, who is a leader in our Professional Services & Fintech Practices, and who provides Relationship Management and Account leadership for several key clients of the firm.
I have to say that this year’s conference was one of the best I’ve ever been to. Aside from the fact that we never saw the sun once in the “sunshine state,” the brilliance of the conference participants, the professionalism of the conference organizers and the genuine conversations I had with other LGBT business owners and allies made for an amazing conference.
I think there were two things that made this year’s conference most engaging for me. The first was participating as a panelist on the FSRSD (Financial Services Roundtable for Supplier Diversity) break-out session, where we had a dynamic, frank discussion among panelists and the audience on the rewards and challenges of working with financial services industry clients. Issues like indemnification, insurance, high barriers to entry and a demanding regulatory environment were discussed openly, and generated the kind of conversation that is important for entrepreneurs in evaluating the markets they want to get into and be successful in, as well as understanding more about the length of the sales cycle being measured in years verses weeks or months.
The second thing that made such an impression on me this year was the presence of transgender and gender fluid professionals. As a gay man, I learned so much more about my “T” colleagues and began to understand some of the issues that are unique to them, through having great dialogues that felt more comfortable than in most other environments. I think it brought an awareness of how important it is to look beyond the appearance of a person and to look deeper for understanding. That’s how I think we’re going to get through the current social crisis that we have in our country – by taking the time to listen and ask each other what we’re trying to accomplish and why and then supporting each other in accomplishing that goal. Engagement is the first step to understanding and the NGLCC provided a great platform for achieving that this year.
It was also great to reconnect with people I only get to see once or twice a year at this and other NGLCC events to maintain long term relationships and collaborate on how we can work together to make this a better world for people of all diverse segments.
Q: What are some of the ways that local LGBT Chambers of Commerce can impact business communities?
A: The primary impact of chambers of commerce is to provide tools, opportunities, encouragement and confidence for diverse-owned businesses to thrive and flourish. The LGBT segment alone now comprises more than $2 Trillion dollars to the world’s economy. And that’s only what we can measure!
By helping entrepreneurs to be successful by doing what they love, being who they are and in turn giving back to others in the community, whether they be diverse, economically disadvantaged or both, we raise all boats in a tide of growth and awareness.
Embracing diversity is not only the right thing to do, it has been proven to produce better ideas, better products, and better bottom-line financial results, so advocating for diversity and inclusion in the business community is a financial imperative as well as a social imperative.
Q: How can someone get involved with their local LGBT Chamber of Commerce?
A: The best way to get involved with your local chamber of commerce, whether it be focused on the LGBT segment specifically or other economically disadvantaged groups is to get online and find your local chamber. Another way to get involved is to join your company’s ERG (Employee Relations Group) that specifically supports the group you most closely identify with or want to be an ally for.
Most chambers and other groups that support diversity are non-profits with limited budgets and therefore are always looking for people to volunteer on committees and at events.
Granite Solutions Groupe is proud to be an NGLCC Certified LGBT owned business enterprise, and has been an industry leader in diversity and inclusion since it was founded in 1998. Our commitment to these values informs how we do business, and we take pride in deploying highly skilled consultants of every race, gender and sexuality at leading financial services companies. To find out more about how we can partner with your company as an NGLCC Certified Diverse Supplier, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.