In a somewhat recent article on Huffington Post, several reasons are given for why inclusivity of LGBTQ people makes good business (economic) sense. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard some of these reasons yourself, or at least you can guess them. It’s no secret that the Millennials entering the workplace value diversity and inclusion like no other generation before. Companies that visibly and thoroughly promote inclusion can expect better sales, as well as better and more loyal employees.
But my favorite reason from the article is this:
The research suggests a direct correlation between ‘cultures that are LGBT supportive’ and those that ‘have the elements essential to sparking creativity and sustaining innovation.’
Since Charlottesville apparently can’t help brimming with innovation, has new tech companies eager to descend upon the site of the ice park, and proudly plays hosts to a bevy of art spaces and theater groups, it seems obvious to me that it is in our best interest to support the LGBTQ community – its businesses, its people, and its culture – none of which are exclusive of the other.
Business is Human
There’s a reason the business world burgeons with socialization opportunities (tech groups, green groups, business innovation cocktails, various roundtables and councils). The marketplace, whether you’re thinking of food stalls at a farmer’s market or of Wall Street, churns on relationships. Monetary exchange, trades, deals – these are human interactions, governed by cultural mores, infused with meaning and whatever biases and prejudices in the hearts and minds of the people who perform them.
Business transactions can either perpetuate discrimination or inclusivity. But they cannot occupy a neutral space.
Local Efforts for LGBTQ Business
Which is one reason why Cville Pride initiated SafeCville, a coalition of educators who train organizations, individuals, and businesses to understand what exactly it means to be inclusive and supportive of their LGBTQ customers and employees.
It’s also why we’re working with the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau to highlight local places that are safe spaces, LGBTQ-owned and/or safe-space trained. This follows Governor Terry McAuliffe’s initiative, now housed within Virginia Tourism, to make Virginia a desirable destination for LGBTQ tourists. And why we praised McAuliffe’s move to prohibit the state from working with companies who don’t have anti-discrimination policies.
And we support the efforts of Equality Virginia to promote inclusive, non-discriminatory businesses throughout the Commonwealth. Regardless of the economic benefits, we believe that businesses and tourist industry instituting and following principles of equality and inclusion increase safety and security for LGBTQ people working, living, and traveling here.
An Opportunity in Charlottesville?
Three LGBTQ chambers of commerce exist in Virginia. Why don’t we start something similar in Charlottesville?
We do have, in Charlottesville, businesses owned and lead by LGBTQ people, as well as amazing allies, some of whom are listed on our resources pages. It seems like it would be in the interest of all of us to actively, visibly support LGBTQ business – and LGBTQ safe space trained organizations – as a way to keep our region sparking with the innovation and creativity we’re so proud to tout and hope to cultivate into the future.