Across the United States, state and local governments are working on LGBT rights alongside coalitions of activists and committed citizens. Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts has recently taken steps to further inclusivity of the LGBT community.
On Tuesday, he issued an executive order including LGBT-owned businesses in its diversity program. Massachusetts is the first state to do so, which will allow these businesses equal access to the contract bidding process as suppliers of goods and services. The program was first introduced in 2010 to provide access to women and minority-owned businesses. It was then updated in 2013 to include businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. The 2015 changes will not only add the LGBT community to this diversity program but will expand to all veterans and to businesses owned by people with disabilities.
The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) was a significant part of the strong push for this new policy. This is so far the only statewide diversity inclusion of contract bidding for the LGBT community; however, several other similar supplier programs exist for the California Public Utilities commission, Essex County in New Jersey, and Cleveland, Ohio. One of the main benefits for states and counties who implement such programs is that a focus on diversity results in a greater return on investment. This further benefits minority communities, as it leads to greater visibility of these communities. After this victory, the NGLCC will be working to bring a similar policy to New York.
Often, these programs are critical to the future of minority-owned businesses, as many of these are newer, and more vulnerable to closure in the first few years due to lack of capital. While getting a business off the ground is never easy, marginalization often intersects with a lack of wealth, which ultimately can complicate entrepreneurial growth. This is just the beginning for the issue of inclusion of the LGBT community in supplier diversity programs across the country, but it is exciting to see Massachusetts take this step
Mehek Naresh is an Indian American lesbian, living and working in Florida after recently graduating with a Bachelors in Political Science. Her hobbies seeking out small talk with cashiers, reading, and spending more time staring at tumblr than she’d care to admit.