NGLCC Business Enterprise Certification is Good For Business; Interview with Dawn Ackerman

Published: Feb. 24, 2015

Photo of Dawn Ackerman by Paul Chinn, San Francisco Chronicle

Becoming part of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s (NGLCC) Supplier Diversity Initiative is about more than supporting the national movement for LGBT equality. It’s about helping small businesses become recognized and make money, thereby bolstering the economic base of the entire LGBT community. The GGBA sat down with Dawn Ackerman to find out why it’s important for GGBA’s small business members to get certified to become part of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Supplier Diversity Initiative in advance of the free LGBT Business Builder event taking place on March 2, 2015.Dawn is vice president of the GGBA Board of Directors and President, CFO, and co-founder of OutSmart Office Solutions, a full-service office interior design and space planning company. In 2012, OutSmart Office Solutions was recognized as the NGLCC’s 2012 LGBT Supplier of the Year.GGBA: You’re very involved with the NGLCC. Will you tell us why you’re so involved?Dawn: When I was living in Los Angeles in 2004, I heard from a fellow business owner that there was a new, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and they were having their conference in San Francisco to talk about LGBT Business Enterprise certification. I decided to buy a ticket and come to San Francisco to check out this conference. While I was at that conference, I learned about certification, and I learned that there were LGBT Chambers all over the country. I joined the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber and started understanding how important certification could be for LGBT businesses—if they knew about it. We’ve been promoting it now for almost 10 years.I also met my business partner at that San Francisco conference. Over the next few years we decided we would form a new company, get certified, and work together. We formed Outsmart Office Solutions in 2007. In 2009, we went to the NGLCC conference and that's where we met Office Depot. In 2010 we became their first LGBT partner and in 2013 we became their first and only LGBT vendor with our own line of product.

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LGBT-owned businesses get diversity boost

By Lisa Leff, Associated PressPublished: Friday, Jan. 2, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO -- As a Mexican-American woman who started her own consulting firm in Los Angeles, accountant Sonia Luna has taken advantage of programs aimed at helping minority- and women-owned businesses compete for government and corporate contracts. But increasingly, the fact that Luna also is a lesbian entrepreneur hasn't hurt either.

Federal agencies, organizations such as the National Football League and more than one-third of Fortune 500 companies are now trying to expand their vendor pools by explicitly encouraging bids from gay, lesbian and transgender contractors.

The little-known outreach efforts mirror long-standing "supplier diversity" initiatives aimed at creating economic opportunities for businesses owned by racial minorities, women and disabled veterans.

"It allows me to be even prouder of who I am," said Luna, who hopes her firm, Aviva Spectrum, will benefit from a new California law requiring large utility companies to report how much they spend with LGBT contractors. "And it allows the marketplace to acknowledge a class that has been denied recognition as a minority group."

The trend has not been without controversy.

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NFL Inroad – Gay Businesses Offered Opportunities for 2016 Super Bowl

By  , Washington BladePublished: Thursday,  Dec, 4, 2014Over the past few years, several professional, college and Olympic athletes have come out of the closet. And the sports communities from which they come have launched diversity training programs and guidelines to educate their athletes, coaches and staff.It is safe to say that the sports world is paying attention to the LGBT community.Earlier this summer, it was announced that the United States Tennis Association had become a corporate partner with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and would be opening their supply chain to LGBT-certified businesses.And now, the National Football League has announced that the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee will include Bay Area LGBT-certified businesses in its Business Connect program for contracting opportunities related to the Super Bowl championship game to be held at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 7, 2016.

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Super Bowl 50 Is Working Hard to Be LGBT-Friendly

By Pete Kane, SF WeeklyPublished: Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014Apart from certain religious hierarchies, professional sports remains perhaps the biggest pocket of institutional homophobia left in American society.But that, too, might be changing.The Chronicle reported last week that in preparation for Super Bowl 50 (which will be played in 2016 at Levi’s Stadium), the National Football League is adding LGBT-owned small businesses to its outreach efforts. Business Connect, which is intended to “increase opportunities for minority, women, disabled veteran” and LGBT-owned businesses, is a joint project between the NFL and the Bay Area’s host committee. Apart from being the right thing to do, it's also a shrewd business move in such an LGBT-heavy region.

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For Super Bowl 50, NFL courts LGBT businesses

By John Coté, San Francisco ChroniclePublished: Sunday, November 9, 2014It’s not quite painting a rainbow on the logo for Super Bowl 50, but it’s a step in that direction.The National Football League is showing a more inclusive side with its landmark 50th anniversary Super Bowl, which will be played at the 49er’s new Levi’s Stadium. The league and event organizers are set to announce Monday that, for the first time, the NFL will expand its outreach on contracting opportunities for the 2016 event to businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.“I think it’s incredible history that’s being made right here in San Francisco, and what better place for it to happen?” said Robb Fleischer, president of the Golden Gate Business Association, the nation’s first LGBT chamber of commerce. “I think it sends a message nationwide.”Super Bowl 50 will be played at the stadium in Santa Clara, but about 10 days of lead-up activities, including parties and the Super Bowl Village, will be in San Francisco, with its rich history of gay-rights activism.The NFL’s move comes as a stream of court rulings have come down in favor of same-sex marriage and a week after Apple CEO Tim Cook, revealed he was gay.The NFL already targets small businesses owned by minorities, women and disabled veterans in its effort to line up local vendors through its Business Connect program for the lead-up and production of the Super Bowl. Bay Area LGBT business owners were thrilled about being added to the list.

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