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The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce wrapped up its seventh annual National Business and Leadership Conference Nov. 21. The NGLCC saw record-breaking attendance numbers
and stronger-than-ever support from policy makers and corporate partners.
Conference attendance hit nearly 400 for the four-day conference, a 60 percent jump over last year’s event in Seattle, Washington. Over 800 LGBT business owners, corporate partners and organizational allies attended the National Dinner on Friday. The conference offered programming designed to meet the interests and needs of LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs, allied companies and NGLCC affiliate chambers from around the country.
Many policy makers and members of the Obama Administration also showed their support of the NGLCC’s work. A delegation of NGLCC members was invited to the White House on Nov. 17 to discuss ways in which the Administration can continue to support the LGBT community and create further economic
opportunities for LGBT business owners. “The White House has been incredibly supportive of our work,” said Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the NGLCC. “We’re so thrilled to have a partner in this administration that understands and values diversity.”
During the Welcome Reception on Capitol Hill, Sen. Al Franken spoke passionately of his support of LGBT rights, including a new anti-bullying bill he is co-sponsoring that would require colleges receiving federal money to include sexual orientation and gender identity and part of their anti-harassment policies.
Other speakers at the conference included Karen Mills of the Small Business Administration, Rep. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Jared Polis all discussed diversity and inclusiveness as well as important legislation, including the Small Business Jobs Act and programs at the SBA that are available to help LGBT businesses. Gary Locke, the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary gave the NGLCC Champion of Enterprise keynote on Friday morning.
Secretary Locke spoke about economic recovery, President Obama’s National Export Initiative and how LGBT businesses can benefit from becoming more actively involved in exporting. He also spoke of a new memorandum of understanding that he will sign shortly with the NGLCC to increase collaboration between the department and the organization around procurement, trade and other department priorities that are of interest to America’s small business community.
Also in attendance were over 120 NGLCC Corporate Partners, including IBM, Aetna, American Airlines, Ernst & Young, Hewlett Packard, Intel, JPMorgan, Chase, Merck, AT&T, UPS, Wells Fargo and Hilton. All promised to continue their commitment to diversifying their workplace, policies and supplier base.
“It’s fantastic to see some of the world’s largest companies pledge their support to the LGBT community,” says Chance Mitchell, co-founder of the NGLCC. “They understand that diversifying their workforce and supplier base is not only morally and ethically sound, but is just solid business.”