New Supplier Diversity Law in California

| By Justin Nelson
Late last month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1678. Backed by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and our seven California affiliate chambers, this first-of-its-kind law requires that public utilities in California extend to certified LGBT business enterprises (LGBTBEs) the same provisions currently granted to women-owned, ethnic minority-owned, and disabled veteran-owned businesses under General Order 156.
 
In many ways, the success of AB1678 epitomizes the work of NGLCC. As the business voice of the LGBT community and the largest global not-for-profit advocacy organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunities for LGBT people, our work is rooted in both policy and personal empowerment. 
 
In the case of AB1678, we worked with our affiliate chambers and local leaders to craft and, ultimately, pass LGBT inclusive legislation. In our role as the exclusive certification body for LGBT owned businesses, NGLCC provides the resources, training and networking that enables LGBT-owned businesses to take advantage of new and increasingly inclusive economic opportunities.
 
This new law offers LGBT-owned businesses in California a brighter economic future. The law could not have been possible without committed leadership as outlined by NGLCC co-founder and CEO Chance Mitchell after the bill was signed into law:
 
“The LGBT business community owes a huge debt of gratitude to Assemblyman Gordon and
Sen. Leno for their hard work in passing this bill that will have real impact on the lives of
LGBT California business owners and the many Californians employed by them.”
 
NGLCC already works with over one third of the Fortune 500 to bring supply chain opportunities to certified LGBT-owned businesses across the country. With this first in the nation law, CA’s largest public utilities - water, gas, electric, and telecommunications - are all under the purview of AB 1678. Supplier diversity fosters creative solutions and innovation, which are essential for these industries as they face a growing population and the economic realities of the 21st century. Advances in these sectors will also be spurred by the arrival of industrious LGBT entrepreneurs from across the country, keen on taking advantage of California’s inclusive business environment. 
 
In addition to giving California an economic boost, AB1678 protects and strengthens the LGBT community. According to Sam McClure, NGLCC Vice President of Affiliate Relations and External Affairs, the importance of the law is two-fold; it fosters opportunity and bulwarks against discrimination.
 
“AB1678 is essential because LGBT businesses should have access to every opportunity to grow their businesses and create jobs without the fear of discrimination.”
 
For LGBT Californians, the law provides fair access to economic opportunity. Successful LGBT-owned businesses strengthen the entire LGBT community and offers real opportunities for economic stability. Moreover, LGBT inclusive supplier diversity means that there will be greater LGBT visibility across California. Economic visibility, just like social visibility, is essential in building a diverse and inclusive society. 
 
The successful passage of AB 1678 demonstrates the resolve of the people of California to build a more just and inclusive society.  AB 1678, passed by the legislator and signed into law by the governor, again reveals that the foundation of an inclusive community is rooted where economic, social, and legal equality converge.