Celebrating the LGBTQ contribution to progress in business
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With the Supreme Court weighing LGBTQ rights in the workforce this week, it’s more important than ever we honor the immense contributions of the LGBTQ community. On the contrary, the progress they have forged in our country is an achievement that deserves year-round attention, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship. The potential for small business ownership in this community is at an all-time high, and as a champion of small business owners and member of this community myself, I should know.

When it comes to LGBTQ entrepreneurship, many individuals have worked hard and blazed the trails for the talented people in our community. Across the country, business owners like Michaela Mendelsohn, CEO of the Pollo West Corp. franchise and advocates like Justin Nelson, founder of the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) are among the inspiring pioneers making business more inclusive than ever before.

By implementing policies such as training and promoting diverse management, mandating sensitivity training for all employees, hiring consultants to conduct role-playing exercises, emphasizing a culture of respect and shining a light on our achievements, LGBTQ trailblazers are creating true and equal representation of the LGBTQ community in American businesses.

This is precisely why I am so excited to be a part of the creation of a new organization that will expand upon the important work of the Mendelsohns and NGLCCs of the world. This month, the International Franchise Association is launching the Franchising Pride Council to promote the expansion of LGBTQ representation in management and leadership positions.

A network of LGBTQ business owners and employees, the Pride Council seeks to expand the economic possibilities for LGBTQ individuals and shine a light on their countless achievements and contributions. It will provide opportunities for mentorship, foster discussions around best practices and create a forum for sharing experiences that others in the community can benefit from. By offering these resources, IFA is making business ownership a more attainable goal for the members of the LGBTQ community - something that is not only key to inclusivity, but critical to the economic livelihoods of cities and towns across America.

The thriving community of LGBTQ business owners is responsible for producing over $1.7 trillion in economic impact across the country, but their potential is even greater. Just last year, the NGLCC certified its 1000th LGBTQ Business Enterprise. Across the country, cities like Nashville and Los Angeles are setting great examples by including LGBTQ Business Enterprises in their procurement processes, giving our businesses more opportunities to succeed than ever before. But there are so many more entrepreneurs out there and places where they can and should thrive. By expanding LGBTQ employment, creating equal opportunity workplaces, and advocating for LGBTQ-friendly public policy, we can begin to reach our potential.

The Franchising Pride Council is just one way the business community can work towards these goals; I hope other businesses and organizations will do their part to serve as an ally in the LGBTQ pursuit of full equality in employment, leadership and culture. Together, we can honor the trailblazers in the LGBTQ community and work to foster an inclusive society all the time, not just they’re in the news.

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship FTC Democrat raises concerns that government is 'captured' by large tech companies Democrats want Mulvaney to testify in Trump impeachment probe MORE represents Rhode Island’s 1st District and is co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.