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The Future of Equality

Want to Grow? Look Up.

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By Sam McClure,
Senior Vice President, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in my role at The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) traveling around the country working with our local affiliate chambers, meeting diverse entrepreneurs, elected officials and our ever-growing network of corporate partners. When I want to assess the strength and momentum of a local economy quickly, I look up. If I see one or more of those big, beautiful construction cranes, I consider that a very good sign. I’ll admit, I like the cranes. I think they’re beautiful. When I see one, I know a fundamental idea is being brought to scale and someone’s vision is coming to fruition. After all, one can build a small structure without a crane. When the big crane goes up, we know the builders are taking it to another level.

In my work, brilliant diverse entrepreneurs surround me. These are business leaders who have extraordinary vision, with innovative ideas to solve problems in every sector and industry—and like the cranes, they move individual elements into place to shape something bigger than the sum of its parts. They create jobs and bring enormous economic impact in the cities where they live and work. In fact, the LGBT businesses represented by NGLCC are responsible for more than $1.7 trillion in impact annually.

All of us should endeavor to be like those beautiful cranes. After all, the entrepreneurs we all work with have no shortage of innovative ideas and vision, those foundational materials for business. All they really need from us is to be repositioned into the places they need to go in order to take their businesses to the next level. Scale is everything for these businesses.

In Washington and in the media I hear a lot of conversations and arguments framed in a way that pits small business and big business against each other. Think “Wall Street vs. Main Street.”

This is more myth than reality. After all, small- and medium-sized businesses are vendors and suppliers to big businesses. They can, in fact, be inter-dependent in healthy and sustainable ways. Scaling up to serve in vendor and supply chains should be a goal for most small- and medium-size businesses. Additionally, being the go-to small business in your community or your local B2B network can be the fuel that keeps your crane’s machinery moving even in the leanest of times.

Research based on the U..S economic census indicates that in the five-year period between 2007 and 2012, which included the economic crisis of 2008, the overall number of paid employees working for all firms decreased by a staggering 2.06 million. Yet, during that same time, diverse-owned businesses showed net job increases for the five-year cycle. Think about that. These businesses are stress tested and resilient. They are literally the engines of economic recovery and growth, like those beautiful cranes I love to see in skylines.

The only difference between a small business and a big business might just be the crane. Take a few minutes and ask yourself, what can I do to reposition a diverse entrepreneur right now? What information do they need? Who should they talk to? Do they simply need connections and introductions? Or is a mentoring or supplier development program right for them? Answer these questions and take some action.

If you’re reading this, it’s very likely that you are a passionate advocate just like me, even if that’s not in your job title. Diverse business owners are often the best advocates for each other. There is no “us against them” in economic development. It takes all of us becoming those cranes for each other to build the economic future that that will keep this nation strong.

Sam McClureSam McClure serves as Senior Vice President at NGLCC: National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. In this role, Sam oversees the Affiliate Relations, External Affairs, Advocacy, and Supplier Diversity teams and is a member of the NGLCC executive leadership team.

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.