Celebrating Diversity in Business
As Special Advisor to the PM on LGBT+ Issues, I met with a range of dynamic stakeholders in the LGBT+ community in Canada and abroad. I continue to be in contact with many of the leaders of these organizations to this day. Now that I have returned to the business community, I have been working with the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Canada’s leading LGBT+ Business Advocacy organization that also serves as the Certification Association for LGBT+ owned businesses here in Canada.
I am pleased to announce that this week, Xennex Inc became one of Canada’s newest Certified LGBT+ owned businesses.
From a small business perspective, this will enable Xennex to work with major corporations in Canada that believe in and practice supplier diversity. It will also mean the ability to network with and do business with other LGBT+ owned businesses here in Canada. As CGLCC is affiliated with an international network of LGBT+ Chambers of Commerce, the business opportunities are global. I have already been in contact with officials at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in the US and will be guest speaking later this month on Zoom with the Colombian LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce.
From a public policy perspective, business owners of every size can look inside their teams and ask, how diverse is my team? We can also ask ourselves, how diverse is my supply chain? What percentage of my total purchases each year go to companies owned by Women, Indigenous People, Persons with Disabilities, Persons of Colour, Veterans, or LGBT+ persons?
We also have more work to do in Canada promoting the self-identification of diversity-owned businesses. One of the most challenging statistics that came from the CGLCC’s most recent LGBT+ owned business survey in Canada is that 1 in 2 Canadian business owners do not share or promote their diversity status. We can all work together to do better. As we begin to recover from the Covid-19 lockdown, we will need all the talent and diversity that our country can offer to get through these challenging times on the road to the next normal.
I will always remember Canada’s first LGBT+ Trade Mission, that took place at the NGLCC Summit in Philadelphia in 2018. I co-led that trade mission with then Minister of International Trade Diversity, the Hon Jim Carr. During an interview with a US Business magazine the reporter asked, “Why would a federal Minister be interested in attending an LGBT+ Business Summit?” His answer struck me then and will remain with me forever, “You will notice that my title says Minister of International Trade Diversity – that means I focus not only on diversifying where Canadians get to trade but also expanding who in Canada gets to trade.” That notion of diversity, so fundamental to our identity as Canadians, is not yet fully reflected in corporate Canada or in the 1 million small businesses that make up more than 99% of the Canadian economy. It is incumbent on diverse business owners to stand up, to become certified and to state proudly that we are part of our communities and our local, national and international economies.
For that reason, I am proud to share this news and proud to share my LGBT+ Certification as a symbol of how far we have come as a country and as a reminder of all the work that we have left ahead.