A Call to LGBTQ Business Owners

                                                    Photo by James A. Molnar

As Pride Month comes to a close, the celebration of LGBTQ identity and the recognition of the struggles faced by this community do not. According to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), there are an estimated 1.4 million LGBTQI+ business owners in the United States. These entrepreneurs are not only key players in their respective industries but also vital contributors to the economy, adding approximately $1.7 trillion annually.

However, while Pride Month shines a spotlight on the achievements and challenges of the LGBTQ community, the reality of discrimination persists beyond June. For LGBTQ business owners, this discrimination often means confronting biases and breaking through barriers that non-LGBTQ counterparts may not face.

A.J. Mizes, CEO and Founder of The Human Reach, offers a candid reflection on his experiences as an LGBTQ business owner. “Being an LGBTQ business owner has often meant confronting discrimination head-on and smashing through barriers. I’ve encountered plenty of bias over the years and have felt the pressure to fit into a mold that wasn’t mine, both in and outside of the office. But these challenges have only strengthened my inner voice to be myself unapologetically. My advice for those in my shoes? Don’t play by outdated rules,” he says.

Mizes’ advice is particularly relevant as the business landscape continues to evolve. Authenticity, he argues, should be leveraged as a superpower. For LGBTQ professionals, the ability to bring their true selves to work can be a tremendous asset. “Leverage your authenticity as your superpower, surround yourself with a strong support network, and know that your unique perspective is not just an asset but literally the building blocks for those coming behind us being heard,” Mizes adds.

The Economic Impact of LGBTQI+ Businesses

The contributions of LGBTQI+ businesses extend far beyond their immediate communities. According to NGLCC, LGBTQI+ businesses contribute an impressive $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy annually. This economic impact is bolstered by the broader LGBTQI+ community, which spends over $917 billion each year on goods and services. These figures underscore the substantial role that LGBTQ individuals play in driving economic growth and innovation.

Ongoing Challenges and the Importance of Support Networks

Despite these contributions, LGBTQ business owners often face significant obstacles. Discrimination and bias remain pervasive, affecting everything from securing funding to gaining customer trust. A study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that 40% of LGBTQ employees feel the need to lie about their personal lives at work, which can stifle creativity and hinder professional relationships.

For LGBTQ business owners, the challenges can be even more pronounced. The pressure to conform to traditional business norms can lead to a feeling of isolation. This is why building and maintaining a strong support network is crucial. Support networks can provide not only emotional backing but also practical advice and opportunities for collaboration. These networks can be a source of strength and resilience, helping LGBTQ business owners navigate the complexities of running a business while staying true to their identity.

Looking Ahead

As Pride Month ends, the message to LGBTQ business owners is clear: continue to embrace who you are and the unique perspective you bring to the table. The fight for equality and acceptance is ongoing, and the contributions of LGBTQ business owners are vital in this battle.

For those feeling the weight of discrimination or the pressure to conform, Mizes’ words offer a beacon of hope and resilience. Authenticity and self-acceptance are not just personal victories but also powerful tools for business success. By staying true to themselves and leveraging their unique experiences, LGBTQ business owners can drive innovation, foster inclusive work environments, and pave the way for future generations.

Dee
 

Dee is a well-respected business journalist with a deep understanding of global financial markets and a talent for uncovering the stories behind the numbers. With over 20 years of experience covering the business beat, Dee is known for his in-depth reporting and analysis of industry trends, as well as his ability to make complex financial concepts understandable to a wide audience.