Calan Breckon • Published January 29th, 2024

Empowering Equity The Role of the Canadian LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce in Business Growth (CGLCC)

Are you part of the LGBTQ+ community and looking to thrive in the business world?

The Canadian LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) is here to help. This organization empowers LGBTQ+ businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed, grow, and shape an inclusive and thriving Canadian economy.

Full disclosure: I’m a CGLCC Diverse Certified Supplier, which means my business is 51% or more owned and operated by a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but more on that later.

Let’s explore how the CGLCC champions equity and diversity in Canadian business.

Key Takeaways

  • The Canadian LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) is a non-profit dedicated to promoting inclusivity and fostering the growth of LGBTQ+ businesses.
  • The CGLCC offers exclusive membership perks, networking events, business development opportunities, mentorship programs & more.
  • The organization works collaboratively with governments to provide resources for 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs to triumph over barriers & achieve success.

What is the Canadian 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC)?

Diverse group of business professionals, including me from the CGLCC, networking at the Collision conference in Toronto

The Canadian 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the growth of LGBTQ+ businesses in Canada, contributing to an inclusive Canadian economy. The CGLCC collaborates with organizations like the federal government on initiatives such as trade missions to the USA and other regions abroad, promoting an inclusive Canada and supporting Canadian businesses. These efforts are significant, considering that LGBTQ+ businesses contribute over $22 billion in economic activity and employ more than 435,000 Canadians.

The CGLCC focuses on supplier diversity, youth entrepreneurship (OUT for Business Mentorship Program), and international projects to help businesses generate economic growth in Canada. One of their primary objectives is to assist LGBTQ+ businesses in expanding their reach internationally, boosting the Canadian economy through their export program.

The Mission of CGLCC

The CGLCC’s mission is to cultivate and foster an expansive network that offers economic opportunities for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, including majority-owned and operated businesses (like mine). The organization implements initiatives such as the Supplier Diversity program and trade missions, aiding LGBTQ-owned businesses in accessing resources and opportunities.

Their extensive support includes:

  • Connecting LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs to a global network of other LGBTQ+ chambers of commerce, governments, corporate partners, and individuals
  • Providing access to international opportunities (like trade missions)
  • Sharing exciting news in the business world

Celebrating Diversity in Commerce Uniting Canada

The CGLCC fosters inclusivity in business by:

  • Connecting, supporting, and promoting diverse entrepreneurs
  • Connecting LGBTQ+ businesses, government, corporate members, and community partners
  • Offering opportunities to LGBTQ+ businesses
  • Certifying them
  • Connecting them with corporations and governments, including those that provide payment services.

Building Bridges: Networking and Membership at CGLCC

Members of Canadian LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce and QueerTech networking and connecting at the CGLCC 2023 Summit in Kingston, Ontario.

The CGLCC offers networking opportunities and membership benefits for those interested in growing their network within the LGBTQ+ business community. Members enjoy exclusive thought leadership, webinars, and networking events that facilitate connections with other 2SLGBTQI+ professionals, businesses, and ally organizations. The CGLCC organizes events like the Annual Black & White Gala and leadership summit, enabling members to connect and expand their businesses.

I was lucky enough to be asked to do a webinar for the CGLCC members about the importance of SEO for small businesses. It ended up with many folks reaching out to thank me for sharing my knowledge and even a few business deals coming my way.

Various initiatives, including global trade missions and networking opportunities at events, are provided by the CGLCC to facilitate networking among its members. To become a member, you must complete the self-nomination process and be considered for membership. You can also become a diverse certified supplier (like me) or become Rainbow Registered to join, which I outline later on in this post.

Exclusive Membership Perks

I can honestly say that working with the CGLCC completely changed my business and life. It opened up a door to a whole new world I didn’t even know existed. Before, I was struggling with my business and found it really hard to get access to people and resources. Once I was accepted into the OUT for Business mentorship program and became certified, all of a sudden I was going to all these great events, meeting people I would never have access to before, getting my foot in the door, and I’ve even gotten a number of clients through the organization.

It’s been a complete game changer for my business.

Events That Connect and Celebrate

CGLCC Black and White Gala 2022

The major annual events hosted by CGLCC, such as the Black & White Gala and the Global Business Summit, provide attendees with the chance to network and build relationships with other professionals, as well as expand their business contacts. These events recognize business owners, experts in their field, and successful professionals, celebrating the achievements of the LGBTQ+ business community.

I’ve been to 2 Gala’s and 1 Summit so far and I’ve had a blast at all of them. The Gala is held in Toronto every November and it’s a magical night filled with dinner, awards, performances, and lots of dancing afterward.

Trade Missions

Calan Breckon at the NGLCC International Business and Leadership Conference in Denver

Trade missions are one of my favourite parts about being part of the CGLCC. In 2023 I was invited to be part of the Canadian delegate that went on a mission to Denver, Colorado, for the NGLCC’s annual Leadership Conference.

Having my own business where I supply services makes it easier for me to be a supplier internationally and network, so being able to be part of these trade missions gives me access to even more businesses looking to diversify their supply chains with certified suppliers.

Championing Supplier Diversity and Inclusion

Illustration representing supplier diversity and inclusion promoted by Canadian LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce

The CGLCC advocates for supplier diversity and inclusion, connecting LGBTQ+ businesses with corporations looking to diversify their suppliers. Their Supplier Diversity Program provides members with access to larger supply chains, the ability to submit bids for projects, and the opportunity to participate in corporate and public procurement processes. This program benefits Canadian corporations by diversifying their suppliers and service providers.

Certification and Opportunities for LGBTQ+ Suppliers

Calan Breckon Diverse Certified LGBT+ Business Enterprise from the CGLCC

In order to be certified as an LGBTQ+ supplier by the CGLCC, you must complete and submit the LGBT+ Supplier Diversity Certification Application Form, operate in Canada, be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and be at least 51% LGBTQ+ owned. The certification process undergoes third-party auditing to ensure compliance with ownership and management criteria. Gaining certification from the CGLCC can provide numerous benefits for LGBTQ+ suppliers, such as increased visibility and recognition within the LGBTQ+ community and the wider commercial world, access to networking and business development opportunities, and the opportunity to take part in supplier diversity programs that promote inclusivity and equity in procurement processes.

CGLCC aids certified LGBTQ+ suppliers in expanding their businesses by furnishing them with opportunities, resources, and a supportive network.

When I went through the certification program it took a few weeks because you need to collect all the paperwork and data that they will need about your business and then the CGLCC uses a certified 3rd party to do the assessment so that there isn’t any bias in the process. Once that is all done, you have a meeting with the assessor to go over all of the documentation and then you are approved (hopefully).

I did a whole podcast episode about supplier diversity and the CGLCC certification programs with their Operations Manager For Supplier Diversity, A.J. Stewart.

Rainbow Registered Program

The Rainbow Registered Program is a designation for businesses that are inclusive of LGBTQ+ customers and staff. In order to become a Rainbow Registered business, businesses must submit the Rainbow Registered Program Application on the CGLCC website. They must also meet the standards for policies and practices, training, commitment to inclusive leadership, and a culture of inclusivity. This designation is valid for three years, with annual updates to ensure businesses are consistently upholding their inclusive practices.

Becoming Rainbow Registered enables businesses to:

  • Express their stance on LGBT+ rights
  • Illustrate their dedication to creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for the 2SLGBTQI+ community
  • Assist businesses in promoting themselves as places of safety and acceptance for the community
  • Provide a method for consumers and potential employees to quickly recognize LGBT+ friendly businesses

Corporate Engagement with Diverse Suppliers

The CGLCC promotes supplier diversity without compromising standards or expectations for corporations. The CGLCC works closely in partnership with other organizations like CAMSC and the IWSCC to provide access to a large number of diverse folks, including but not limited to:

  • Women-owned businesses
  • Minority-owned businesses
  • LGBTQ-owned businesses
  • Disabled-owned businesses
  • Indigenous-owned businesses
  • Veteran-owned businesses

Tailored Training for an Inclusive Work Environment

The CGLCC provides tailored training programs to help businesses create inclusive work environments for LGBTQ+ employees and customers. Their offerings include An Introduction to LGBT+ Diversity and Inclusion, an online course that assists folks in fostering an environment that is both inclusive and supportive for 2SLGBTQI+ employees.

The CGLCC also offers 2 in-person workshops. One for the workforce and then another for management at a company. You can find out all the details about these courses and programs on the CGLCC training page.

Advancing Economic Activity Through Advocacy

Calan Breckon presenting at the 2023 CGLCC Summit in Kingston, Ontario.

The CGLCC is committed to prioritizing and sustaining the 2SLGBTQI+ community through action and promoting inclusive economic growth and prosperity. The CGLCC recently partnered with the federal government for a $25 million investment program to support LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and foster growth in the Canadian economy over the next three years. The grant is split up over three main focus points: the Business Scale-Up Program, the Ecosystem Fund, and the Knowledge Hub.

I did an in-depth interview with the CGLCC CEO Darrell Schuurman covering this topic in detail which you can learn more about the $25 million dollar grant in this podcast episode of The Business Gay.

The CGLCC’s advocacy has had a positive impact on policy changes, through policy discussions and evidence-based insights. They are dedicated to instigating legislative change, actively participating in the development of equity, diversity, and inclusion policies. Their work addresses key issues concerning LGBTQ+ businesses, such as ensuring equal access to procurement opportunities and addressing business problems faced by LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.

A large portion of the grant will be directed into studies around LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and ways that they can better be served and how to improve supplier diversity and support for the community.

Collaboration with the Federal Government

The organization cooperates with the government to:

  • Develop policies and initiatives that advocate for LGBTQ+ businesses
  • Administer funds for programs
  • Execute collaborative agreements
  • Collaborate to support LGBT+ businesses.

Notably, they signed a collaborative agreement with the Scandinavian LGBT Chamber of Commerce during a first-ever government-led LGBTQ2 Trade Mission to the United States in 2018.

Success Stories: Annual Black & White Gala

CGLCC Black and White Gala 2022

The CGLCC acknowledges the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs through their Business Leadership Awards. These awards recognize certified suppliers, entrepreneurs, and allies who are promoting LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship and business growth across the country.

As I mentioned before I’ve been lucky enough to attend two Gala events and had an absolute blast at both of them. There is a magical energy when you are in a room full of LGBTQ+ business folk and you know you don’t have to hide part of yourself in order to move forward in business. In this room, that’s a bonus to doing business.

The night is usually full of awards, performances, great music, and dancing after dinner is over. If you ever get the chance to attend one of these events, do it. It will change the way you see LGBTQ+ business and the power we have when we work together.

Navigating Business as a 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneur

The CGLCC offers resources and guidance for 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses. The organization offers resources like the (soon to come) Business Scale Up program, and the 2SLGBTQI+ OUT for Business Entrepreneurship Program to assist 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs in launching a business. These programs aim to support entrepreneurs in launching or growing their businesses across Canada.

Being accepted into the OUT for Business program for the 22/23 season was one of the best things that ever happened to me and I cannot recommend it enough if you’re looking to start a business or grow your business.

Summary

The Canadian LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce plays a vital role in supporting and promoting LGBTQ+ businesses in Canada and strengthening Canada’s economy. By offering resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy initiatives, the CGLCC champions equity and diversity in commerce. Their work in fostering an inclusive Canadian economy and empowering LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs exemplifies the organization’s commitment to a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

With the recent investment from the Canadian government into the organization I can say with full confidence that it is only going to grow and get better from here. I’m excited to see how these next three years evolve with the grant and how the organization grows to help even more entrepreneurs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the CEO of CGLCC?

Darrell Schuurman is the Co-Founder and CEO of CGLCC, having been devoted to its mission since 2003.

What does CGLCC stand for?

CGLCC stands for Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce, an organization dedicated to uniting and advocating for over 100,000 2SLGBTQI+ owned businesses in Canada.

What does 2SLGBTQIA+ stand for?

2SLGBTQIA+ stands for Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and the plus reflects the countless affirmative ways in which people choose to self-identify.

What does it mean to be Rainbow registered?

Rainbow Registered is an accreditation for businesses and organizations to signify that they meet a stringent set of standards to ensure LGBTQ+ customers feel safe, welcomed, and accepted. By displaying the Rainbow Registered symbol, these businesses and organizations demonstrate their commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all.

What is the mission of the CGLCC?

The CGLCC’s mission is to build an inclusive network of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs that offers business opportunities to help drive economic growth for Canada’s economy.

Calan Breckon

Calan Breckon

Calan Breckon is an SEO Specialist and Organic Content Marketer who uses search engine optimization tactics to generate more website traffic and leads for his clients. Calan has worked with companies such as Cohere and Canada Life and has been a guest on the "Online Marketing Made Easy" podcast with Amy Porterfield as well as featured in publications like Authority Magazine and CourseMethod.

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© 2023 Calan Breckon

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