President & CEO,
Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise
The CGLCC provides resources, support programs, and access to different networks to help organizations meet their full potential.
Business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals who never imagined they would be sitting across the table from a PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, or Bell Canada buyer, now see doors open up to a new world of opportunity through Supplier Diversity initiatives.
Traditionally, hiding your LGBTQ2+ status has been recommended in the workplace. A study commissioned by Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) and conducted by Deloitte LLP surveyed LGBTQ2+- owned, operated, and controlled companies across Canada in 2021. This study found that approximately 33 to 39 percent of LGBTQ2+-owned businesses had been harassed, had lost revenue, faced discrimination, or intentionally hid their company’s LGBTQ2+ ownership.
Over 40 percent of businesses surveyed ultimately said there was value in publicly promoting their LGBTQ2+ ownership. One of those values was the opportunity to join a community of diverse suppliers to network and gain access to corporate procurement opportunities through a Supplier Diversity Certification program.
“Supplier Diversity means providing opportunities for individuals and companies that might have difficulty getting in the room or getting access to certain networks,” says Gavin Armstrong, President and CEO at Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise, a CGLCC-certified supplier. “We know that marginalized communities are sometimes left out of those important opportunities. For me, it’s important to come together as a network to help each other, provide resources and access, and to help us thrive and succeed.”
Not your traditional Chamber of Commerce
The Canadian LGBT+ Chamber (CGLCC) does things quite differently from a traditional Chamber of Commerce.
“When I started Lucky Iron Fish as a gay entrepreneur, I felt very isolated and alone, and I didn’t feel like I belonged in the support programs that existed for other entrepreneurs,” says Armstrong. “The CGLCC brings together individuals who have a shared experience, shared identity, and shared community. It provides resources, support programs, and access to different networks to help organizations meet their full potential.”
Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the Canadian economy. The Deloitte survey also found that LGBTQ2+ entrepreneurs are unique in that they are more likely to be self-employed, younger, serving more domestic markets, and employing and working with other diverse-owned businesses.
“In the beginning, I didn’t put it out there. I didn’t originally think it mattered,” says Patrick Hunter, an artist currently skyrocketing to success after fully embracing his Indigenous and Two-Spirit identity within his work and professional networks. “It wasn’t until I infused who I was and where I came from into the work that it really started to take off. The more authenticity you have, the more it resonates with people.
Certified Suppliers see immediate results in expanding their networks, business acumen, and professional connections with those who will help their business thrive. However, the real benefits lie in a longer-term investment in the community.