Talking to John Pica-Sneeden, executive director of the Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Chamber (CTGLC), you’ll be instantly convinced as to why your business should be a member—and why as consumers you’ll want to do business with a registered enterprise. This last point is, perhaps, obvious. Supporting the LGBTQ+ community is important for many who live in it, and member designation can help people know where to direct their dollars.
The CTGLC is affiliated with the NGLCC, and Pica-Sneeden says that membership in the CTGLC automatically establishes membership in the national group. One of Pica-Sneeden’s proudest accomplishments in his nine years at the helm of the Connecticut chamber has been establishing the requirement that businesses belong to their local chambers, which helps the states overall, and means their NGLCC fees are waived. Currently there are more than 30 members of the CTGLC. As executive director, Pica-Sneeden’s role is to certify Connecticut companies for national LGBTQ Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) Certification.
While Pica-Sneeden says the process can be a bit involved (though he does his best to streamline it for in-state companies), certification helps LGBTQ+ companies gain a competitive advantage in things like procurement and other areas where representation of minority-owned companies is required by law. As a certified LGBTBE, companies get official recognition of their status as well as access to a wide variety of programs that include participation in scholarships and training, accelerator opportunities, use of the LGBTBE logo, and much more. In Connecticut, there are also special events, networking opportunities, dedicated benefits and discounts, and marketing support.
Currently, certification is especially important in Connecticut because for all the advantages for LGBTQ+ communities in the state, the state itself does not recognize an LGBTQ+ designation as a valid minority group. Pica-Sneeden says that he has been working with the state legislature for more than three years to try to get this on the books. Ironically, he adds, some of the people pushing back against this recognition are members of other minority groups who somehow feel that more acknowledged groups mean less opportunity. That’s not the case, of course. Under the law, a company could put in a bid, and it would be required to be considered. It’s not a guarantee that a contract will be awarded based on minority status, but it would mean that an LGBTQ+ business cannot be ignored on the basis of its ownership and structure. As Pica-Sneeden says, the goal is to have the opportunity to have a seat at the table.
Companies interested in getting LGBTBE certification should contact CTGLC (www.ctglc.org). They will be required to submit all supporting documents establishing ownership and LGBTQ+ qualifications. There will be a site visit, though Pica-Sneeden says that since the pandemic, these interviews have largely been handled by Zoom. Once that is all complete. Pica-Sneeden sends the recommendation to the national committee. It typically takes 30-90 days to be approved.
Finally, Pica-Sneeden says, that the LGBTQ+ community is the largest minority group in the world. “We encompass every other minority group. We’re part of every one, and we’re everywhere. The amount of people who are out is so much greater than before.” He adds that despite setbacks and political challenges, there is more acceptance of LGBTQ+ people.
“if we join together as a minority, we can take over the world. We have the intelligence and the style to do it.”
It’s a good place to start.