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LGBT representation needed in state push for business diversity.
INBA member George Pieper leading the way for LGBT business representation in the state. photo: Greater Seattle Business Association.
INBA member George Pieper leading the way for LGBT business representation in the state. photo: Greater Seattle Business Association.

 “Is there an opportunity for us to join the conversation for our underrepresented business community to be a part of this diverse business voice?”

Gov. Jay Inslee has created a new subcabinet through the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) focused on increasing access for certified small and minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses to contracting opportunities with Washington state government.

The subcabinet will identify causes of low participation among small and diverse businesses in state contracting and review all current state laws, policies and practices. The subcabinet will also look at current state requirements that may be creating barriers for small and diverse businesses and possible ways to address them.

Excerpt from a news release from Gov. Inslee’s office:

“Washington has been tremendously successful in creating new jobs in our state but we need to take another step forward,” Inslee said. “Washington’s diversity is one of its greatest economic and cultural strengths. Successful small businesses led by women, minorities and veterans help make our economy and our families more resilient. Our rate of finding these talented and qualified contractors must improve.”
Diverse businesses make up only about 1 percent of the $6.1 billion that the state spends annually with the private sector for good and services contracts and public works projects.
“The current rate is unacceptable,” Inslee said “We must do better.”

George Pieper and business partner Dawn Ackerman are certified as an LGBT Business.

INBA Member George Pieper, owner of OutSmart Business Solutions based in Bellvue  and one of the most active members advocating on behalf of the state’s LGBT business community, wants a more inclusive plan. LGBTBE certification from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is not recognized at the state level, presenting a barrier to LGBT businesses from participating in these opportunities.

“We would like to see opportunities for all diverse businesses grow in our state and agree that the current rate of closed business is unacceptable.  This new subcabinet seems like a great step in that direction.  We would like to see these opportunities open up for the LGBT business community as well.”

Echoing the thoughts of Alexis Oliver, the Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprises Director, stating, “We need a business diversity plan for the 21st century,” Pieper would like to see Washington State’s business practices reflect its previously influential decisions on LGBT equality.

“Our community has faced historic discrimination,” wrote Pieper. “While we have earned legal protections against discrimination and marriage equality in recent years, in Washington State the struggles that our community still faces are real.  Statistically many folks in the LGBT community start up their own businesses rather then face discrimination in the workplace. We have gone through the hoops of establishing ourselves and getting rigorously certified nationally through the NGLCC. We have a regional group of LGBTBE certified businesses who are very interested in participating locally.”

Fundamentally, the question here is that of diversity. In George Pieper’s words, “Is there an opportunity for us to join the conversation for our underrepresented business community to be a part of this diverse business voice?”

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