Diversity is the hallmark of our national identity. It comes in many forms: gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, culture, and socioeconomic background – all contributing to a unique experience and view of the world. Bringing together people of various backgrounds with different life experiences provides unique perspectives. Everyone has their own way of viewing situations shaped by their individual experience.

Diversity empowers groups to find unique solutions and improves inter-group understanding. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month, and all year round, I encourage small business owners in the Mid-Atlantic Region to continue to embrace inclusivity so that people of all backgrounds feel safe and welcomed.  

Later this month, in celebration of Pride, the U.S. Small Business Administration hosts a live webinar panel with the SBA’s Washington Metro Area District Director Larry Webb, Co-founder and President of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce Justin Nelson, and small business owner Rachel Kalenberg of Gillette, Wyoming’s Pizza Carrello.  Registration is required.

The discussion will focus on financial wellness and the importance of equity and opportunity to help uplift and support LGBTQI+-owned small businesses across the country. The panel will also discuss SBA initiatives and resources, and those of our community partners, that support LGBTQI+ entrepreneurs seeking to launch, pivot and grow in a post-COVID world – a priority of the Biden-Harris Administration and SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. 

The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has offered LGBT-owned businesses certification since 2004, and is the exclusive, third-party certification body verifying that eligible businesses are majority-owned by LGBTQI+ individuals. The certification, LGBT Business Enterprise® (LGBTBE®) requires a business be at least 51% owned, managed, or operated by an LGBTQI+ person, and the business must be independent from a larger non-LGBTQI+-owned business.

All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. SBA’s support of, or participation in this event is not an endorsement of any product, service, or entity. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least four days in advance of this event. Please send an email to reasonableaccommodation@sba.gov with the subject header “ACCOMMODATION REQUEST.”