Calan Breckon • Published December 4th, 2023

Empowering Diversity How the NGLCC Supports LGBTQ+ Businesses

Did you know that supporting LGBTQ+ owned businesses can positively impact not only the LGBTQ+ community but also the economy as a whole? The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) plays a crucial role in empowering these businesses and providing the resources they need to succeed. Let’s learn more about how the NGLCC is making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ business owners and their communities.

Key Takeaways

  • NGLCC supports LGBTQ+ businesses through advocacy, certification, and programs like the Affiliate Chamber Council.

  • The LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) Certification provides access to corporate representatives & government contracts.

  • NGLCC hosts events & resources for networking opportunities, business growth, and legislative successes.

What is the NGLCC?

NGLCC logo

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is a not-for-profit organization that works to strengthen the LGBTQ+ business community. They strive to create more economic opportunities through advocacy and support. As an exclusive certifying body for LGBTQ-owned businesses, the NGLCC has a wide reach, connecting local and global affiliates, corporate partners, and thousands of businesses in the LGBTQ+ community.

The NGLCC supports LGBTQ-owned businesses through initiatives like The Transgender & Gender Expansive (TGX) Initiative, XLR8, Communities of Color Initiative (CoCi), and their Mentorship Program, just to name a few. Their advocacy for inclusion in corporate and government supplier diversity programs provides advertising opportunities for LGBTQ-owned businesses, fostering their growth and prosperity.

The Founding and Purpose of NGLCC

Founded in 2002 by Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell, the NGLCC aimed to help minority-LGBT owned businesses thrive by creating a supportive community and providing valuable business resources. Over the years, the NGLCC has grown and expanded its focus to include advocacy, economic impact, job creation, and innovation for LGBTQ+ businesses.

The NGLCC’s mission revolves around:

  • Fostering economic opportunities and advancement for the LGBTQ+ business community

  • Building connections with corporations and governments to aid LGBTQ+ business owners

  • Honoring the diverse talent within the LGBTQ+ community

Through their various initiatives, they have made a significant impact on the LGBTQ+ business landscape.

The LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) Certification

One of the most important aspects of the NGLCC’s work is the LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) certification, which supports lgbt businesses. To be eligible for this certification, a business must be majority-owned by an LGBTQIA+ person or persons, with at least 51% ownership held by LGBTQIA+ individuals. Upon certification, LGBTQ-owned businesses secure access to meaningful connections with corporate representatives, supplier diversity professionals, and government contracts.

The certification process involves the following steps:

  1. Join an NGLCC Affiliate Chamber

  2. Create an online business profile

  3. Submit documents

  4. Fill out an application

  5. Undergo a site visit

  6. Complete the National Certification Committee Review

As of December 2023, NGLCC has certified over 2,151 businesses across the United States, demonstrating their commitment to supporting LGBTQ-owned businesses and their growth.

Corporate Collaboration and Support

NGLCC’s corporate collaboration and support efforts connect member businesses with NGLCC corporate partners, providing additional benefits and resources. Corporate partners gain access to certified suppliers and are recognized as supporters of the LGBTQ+ business community. Well-known corporate partners of the NGLCC include companies like Wells Fargo, EY, American Express, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, Accenture, Grubhub, and many more.

The NGLCC aids companies with supplier diversity by promoting in-person networking and advocating for the routine practice of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Successful corporate collaborations with the NGLCC include Wells Fargo’s partnership to launch the XLR8 LGBTBE Capacity Development Program and Jasper + Black’s collaboration with Nordstrom.

Local and International Affiliates

The NGLCC works closely with over 50 local, state, and international affiliate chambers to strengthen the LGBTQ business community. These affiliates play a key role in providing resources such as:

  • Business training

  • Education

  • Networking opportunities

  • Matchmaking events

This support helps create jobs and prosperity for LGBTQ individuals, including transgender communities, and their local communities.

Establishing connections with fellow business owners, corporate partners, and supplier diversity leaders enables local and international affiliates to enhance the reach and influence of LGBTQ-owned businesses within the allied business community.

Strengthening the Domestic LGBTQ Business Community

Domestic affiliate chambers, such as the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and the lesbian chamber, provide local support, resources, and networking opportunities for LGBTQ-owned businesses. Membership in these chambers allows LGBTQ business owners to establish connections with individuals who uphold similar values, possibly leading to new clients, partners, or even employers.

These domestic affiliate chambers also host events that celebrate the achievements of their members. For example, the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce holds an annual Business Equality Awards Luncheon to honor members who have gone above and beyond in their mission to support LGBTQ-owned businesses.

NGLCC Global: Fostering International Connections

NGLCC Global is an integral part of the organization’s mission to support LGBTQ-owned businesses worldwide. NGLCC Global cultivates international business relationships and growth opportunities by linking LGBTQ-owned and allied companies, multinational corporations, and international affiliates from various countries, including the Canadian 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC).

One of NGLCC Global’s key initiatives is the organization of the Global LGBTQI Business Week, a series of events that showcase new ideas and existing successes in LGBTQI economic empowerment. Through these events and partnerships with multinational corporations, NGLCC Global helps LGBTQ-owned businesses access valuable resources, networks, and procurement opportunities.

Events and Networking Opportunities

The NGLCC hosts a variety of events designed to celebrate the achievements of LGBTQ businesses and to provide valuable networking and leadership opportunities. Events such as the NGLCC National Dinner and the NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference bring together LGBTQ entrepreneurs, allies, corporate supplier diversity leaders, and business experts to foster connections and growth opportunities.

These upcoming events serve as a platform for LGBTQ-owned businesses to encounter potential business opportunities, while also providing innovative leadership programming, inspiring keynote speeches, and educational programs such as the B2B Boot Camp for Certified LGBT Business Enterprise®. By attending these events, LGBTQ business owners can expand their networks, share knowledge, and collaborate with corporate partners to shape inclusive public policy and find top LGBTQ+ talent.

NGLCC National Dinner: Celebrating Success

NGLCC National Dinner 2022

The annual NGLCC National Dinner is an event dedicated to recognizing the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community in supplier diversity and LGBT business. Attended by notable figures such as NGLCC co-founders Justin G. Nelson and Chance E. Mitchell, community advocates Dennis and Judy Shepard, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the event highlights the ongoing successes and achievements of LGBTQ businesses and their supporters.

During the NGLCC National Dinner, awards are presented to outstanding LGBTQ businesses and corporate supporters. The awards that honor excellence in diversity and inclusion initiatives include:

  • Corporation of the Year

  • Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year

  • LGBT Supplier of the Year

These awards recognize businesses and individuals, including gold members, for their impressive achievements.

NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference

The NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference is one of the largest LGBTQ business events, offering innovative leadership programming, networking opportunities, and educational programs for LGBTQ business owners. The conference began in 2003 with a gathering of around 80 LGBTQ+ and allied business leaders in Washington, D.C. Today, it has grown into the largest LGBTQ business event in the world, attracting over 1,500 attendees each year and keeps growing.

Notable speakers at the 2023 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference held in Denver, Colorado, included U.S. Small Business Administrator, Isabella Casillas Guzman, and theoretical physicist, bestselling author, and acclaimed public speaker Dr. Michio Kaku.

Dr. Michio Kaku speaking at the NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference in Denver, 2023.

The conference offers LGBTQ business owners the chance to connect with corporate buyers, participate in matchmaker meetings, and learn from experts in their fields. The outcomes of the conference include new business opportunities, procurement partnerships, and access to training and growth opportunities for LGBTQ+ business owners.

I was lucky enough to have attended the 2023 International Business & Leadership Conference in Denver as part of the CGLCC Canadian delegate party and I can wholeheartedly say that it changed my business and life (I’m an SEO specialist). The number of amazing people I met absolutely blew me away. With over 1500 people in attendance, it was easy to make new friends. So many doors have now been opened in my life simply by attending the conference.

CGLCC wins affiliate chamber of the year award at the 2023 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference held in Denver

I also have to do a bit of horn-tooting here since the Canadian LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) won the Affiliate Chamber of the Year award and we were all very excited about it. In 2023 the Canadian Government granted the CGLCC $25 million dollars to commit to fostering and growing Canadian LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship. This was the first of its kind in history.

I’m very much looking forward to the 2024 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference which is being held in Palm Springs from July 30th – August 2nd.

NGLCC International Business and Leadership Conference 2024 in Palm Springs

Advocacy and Milestones

The advocacy efforts of the NGLCC have resulted in significant milestones, including:

  • Legislative triumphs that endorse LGBTBE inclusion in contracting opportunities and supplier diversity initiatives

  • Partnering with corporate organizations and pushing for inclusive public policy

  • Successfully advocating for the growth and success of LGBTQ-owned businesses

One notable achievement of the NGLCC is the creation of the Supplier Innovation Center, an educational facility at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. that provides resources, education, and support for LGBTQ-owned businesses. The center is powered by Wells Fargo and offers unique education and content to help LGBTQ-owned businesses succeed in today’s competitive market.

Legislative Victories and Supplier Diversity

The NGLCC has seen several legislative victories in its mission to promote LGBTBE inclusion and supplier diversity initiatives. Certified LGBTBEs have been included in contracts and programs in cities such as:

  • Orlando, FL

  • Nashville, TN

  • Baltimore, MD

  • Jersey City, NJ

  • Hoboken

Thanks to the NGLCC’s advocacy efforts.

To translate these legislative victories into action, the NGLCC operates through its Supplier Diversity Initiative that aids ally-owned small businesses championing diversity and equips them with the resources to flourish. By collaborating with corporate partners, the NGLCC promotes supplier diversity and creates opportunities for LGBTQ-owned businesses to participate in the economy.


U.S. Small Business Administrator, Isabella Casillas Guzman, being interviewed by NGLCC President and Co-Founder, Justing Nelson.

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce plays a vital role in supporting and empowering LGBTQ-owned businesses through advocacy, certification, corporate collaboration, and events. By connecting LGBTQ business owners with valuable resources, networks, and opportunities, the NGLCC helps create a more inclusive and prosperous economy for all. Let’s continue to support LGBTQ-owned businesses and celebrate their achievements, as they contribute to a more diverse and vibrant business landscape.

One of the best ways you can get involved or support is by getting certified by the NGLCC. It opens up a world of possibilities and introduces you to some of the most amazing people you will ever meet.

The Importance of Business Relationships

If you want to dive deeper, you can take a listen to this short episode of The Business Gay Podcast where I interview President and Co-Founder of the NGLCC, Justin Nelson, about the importance of business relationships, building community, and mentorship.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the 2S in 2SLGBTQ+ mean?

The 2S in 2SLGBTQ+ represents two-spirit, refers to a person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit and is used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity.

What is the full acronym for 2SLGBTQIA+?

2SLGBTQIA+ stands for two-spirit (2S), lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (and/or questioning), intersex, and asexual – a powerful acronym representing the diverse identities within the LGBTQ+ community.

What is the LGBTBE certification?

LGBTBE certification is a way for small businesses majority owned, managed, operated, and controlled by LGBTQ+ individuals to gain recognition and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Who is the founder of NGLCC?

Justin G. Nelson and Chance Mitchell founded the NGLCC in 2002. Justin has served as president since its founding in 2002 alongside Chance Mitchell, who has been CEO during this period.

What is the role of the NGLCC in supporting LGBTQ-owned businesses?

The NGLCC is a valuable resource for LGBTQ-owned businesses, providing advocacy, resources, and networking opportunities to help them grow and succeed.

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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