At Colibri Digital Marketing, we don’t separate business from ethics, and this includes our stance on LGBT rights. We’ve been certified by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) as an LGBT-Certified Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) and we want to share how we practice our values both in life and in business.
Amid the tumult of the White House over the past week, one story captured the nation’s attention more than most: Trump’s tweets calling for the repeal of one of Obama’s more forward-thinking policies. No, not that one. The other one. Whereas Obama, during his presidential tenure, enacted legislation to allow transgender persons to serve openly in the United States Military, Trump has declared that they will no longer be allowed to serve “in any capacity” and has emboldened a deep undercurrent of transphobic sentiment in many parts of the country.
Now, just to clear things up, these tweets are completely devoid of any real authority. As of the time of writing, there have been zero changes to military policy regarding trans individuals, because Trump doesn’t have the power to make that decision unilaterally and because the army doesn’t take its marching orders in 140 characters or less.
But whether these tweets accomplished anything or not, the mere fact that they could so easily incite that kind of national fervor should be read like a barometer for the social climate all the same. It’s easy to pretend like unisex bathrooms are the next frontier for Trans Rights, but tokens like those don’t address the real issues: there are millions of instances of open discrimination against trans people still happening every day, and there is a large percentage of the population that thinks those acts can be classed as upstanding patriotism.
We don’t agree and we believe that now more than ever it is important to either be an LGBT-certified business or be an ally as an LGBT-friendly business.
How to be an LGBT Business During the Trump Administration
As we’ve said, LGBT people face a lot of challenges in life. There are laws against discriminatory hiring practices, but there’s no legislation that requires someone to shop at a store owned by an openly gay proprietor if that customer chooses not to. The proprietor’s options, in that case, would be to hide their identity or risk economic hardship. Acts of discrimination don’t have to be preventative; laws or policies can usually prohibit those and there are usually clear avenues of remedy (lawsuits, sanctions, etc.) in cases of noncompliance. But you can’t legislate participation.
A large part of being an LGBT-certified business is choosing, deliberately, to work with other LGBT business owners, such as giving a support network to our hypothetical shopkeeper. Here are ways you can be an advocate for LGBT businesses during the Trump administration:
The NGLCC is an advocacy organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people and offers LGBT certification for businesses. Here are the basic criteria as provided by the NGLCC for a business to become a certified LGBTBE:
- Majority (at least 51%) owned, operated, managed, and controlled by an LGBT person or persons who are either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents
- Exercises independence from any non-LGBT business enterprise
- Has its principal place of business (headquarters) in the United States
- Has been formed as a legal entity in the United States
Essentially, your business needs to be a US-based corporation with majority leadership in the hands of LGBT identifying individuals. If you’re looking to get certified, start here.
Get Involved in LGBT Organizations…
…Such as the NGLCC and its local chapters. For instance, here in San Francisco our founder and CEO Anna Colibri is on the board of the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), the first LGBT Chamber of Commerce in the United States, which is currently in its fifth decade of thriving operations. As well as making a difference in your community, and helping organizations like these increase in scope, it’s also got tremendous networking potential, so it’s great for business.
Support Your LGBT Business Community
Do business with other LGBT businesses, buy from LGBT businesses, use services provided by LGBT businesses, and support LGBT business initiatives and legislation. The core of strong business is connection — finding the right people to work with and accomplishing more, together.
Use LGBT Friendly Language
Those microaggressions we talked about earlier? A good deal of them are built into the structure of our language. Even something as innocuous as a pronoun can be an insult or an act of discrimination. When you imagine the people who say pronouns are trivial, imagine how many of them would be offended if you deliberately used the wrong one when referring to them and you’ll see what we mean.
As the LGBT community grows and defines itself (despite decades of progress, there’s still a ton of grey area and lots of unanswered questions) terminology and phrasing conventions change. That happens in all spheres. Words like “dim” and “slow” evolved into the more polite “retarded” which is now completely unacceptable, but its successors, “handicapped” and “disabled” are also considered inappropriate in many circles, giving way to “challenged” or “differently-abled”. There’s no clear consensus, but the trend is obvious: shifts in context lead to shifts in preferred terminology. When in doubt, ask. Don’t reject someone’s personal preference. “Queer” may be embraced by some and rejected by others, for instance, but that’s okay. This movement is all about self-identity and personal choice.
And while we’re on the subject, there’s no right way to self-identify, so be mindful of ALL the components of the LGBT movement, not just the ones you personally subscribe to.
Take a Stand for Human Rights
Live your values. Be vocal about discriminatory practices and call out microaggressions when you encounter them. Consider becoming a Benefit Corporation and get B Corp-certified, or seek out other avenues to use your business to make the world a healthier place.
Colibri Digital Marketing is the first full-service B Corp-certified digital marketing agency in San Francisco. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. This is just one way our own digital marketing agency is practicing our values and ethics in the business environment.
Embrace Your LGBT Business Allies
The LGBT movement isn’t a secret club. Its aim is to eventually eradicate the implicit distinction between LGBT people and “regular people” because, that’s the whole point. While there’s inequality, recognizing it and trying to account for it is a useful tool, but as society matures, there won’t be any need or reason to maintain a separation between any particular permutation of sex, gender identity, sexual preferences, grooming habits, and so on. Eventually, it just won’t be a talking point anymore.
Until then, don’t try to be exclusive about it. Embrace any ally you can find, working with people with similar values, educating anyone who will listen, and helping, through outreach, to help society mature a little faster.
What it Means to Be An LGBT-Certified Business Under Trump
Trump claims he’s a businessman, but that doesn’t bear out under scrutiny. His advocacy for businesses cannot be of value if he blatantly disregards the rights of whole segments of our population — many of whom are business owners.
Anyone with good business sense would do a little research about trans people serving in the military and would note that according to a number of studies trans people are WAY more likely to serve in the army than any other demographic. 20% have served on average, compared to a national average of 10%, and that figure jumps to 30% when looking exclusively at male-to-female transgender persons.
This isn’t even new research. Air Force psychiatrist George Brown pointed this out thirty years ago (though, as a heads-up to the reader, much of his terminology, though well intentioned, may sound uncomfortable in modern context) and helped spur the idea that a life in the army is a pretty strong choice for many trans people. The prospects of a stable career, a good pension, and a ticket out of their hometown, are pretty tempting to a demographic of people who face violence, discrimination, alienation, and higher incidences of suicide and depression in civilian life.
Still, as an LGBT-certified business, we’re doing our part to help make life in the private sector a little more inviting.
Colibri Digital Marketing
We’re the digital marketing agency San Francisco trusts to focus on the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. We’re LGBT certified, and we’re proud to lead our business toward a future without discrimination and bigotry. Based in the Bay Area, close to Silicon Valley, we’re the team with the sneak-peek into the future of digital marketing. If you’re ready to work with San Francisco’s first and only full-service B Corp-Certified digital marketing agency, drop us a line or click to schedule a free digital marketing strategy session!
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