NGLCC Global Buinding Connections at LGBT Business Expo in Mexico
| By Michael Castellano
Earlier this month, the NGLCC Global team traveled to sunny Puerto Vallarta - Nayarit in Jalisco, Mexico to attend LGBT Confex’s fourth annual LGBT Business Expo. The conference spanned three days, from June 12 to June 14, at the CasaMagna Marriott resort and spa with a mission of gathering LGBT business owners and corporate partners together for seminars, workshops, conferences, and exhibitions related to LGBT business both across Latin America and around the world.
The Business Expo included an agenda of diverse speakers from various fields, including policy activists and corporate diversity managers, travel professionals and diplomats. One notable speaker and corporate partner, Apoorva Gandhi, VP of Multicultural Affairs at Marriott International, explained Marriott’s commitment to supplier diversity and his company’s belief that “when you help a business, you also help a family.” Through his speech and others, the event underscored economic inclusion and equal opportunity for the LGBT community is not only good business, but has a positive impact on the livelihoods and well-being of individuals.
Through its representation at the event, the NGLCC successfully shared the importance of global supplier diversity as a business practice to the conference attendees. Joanna Dees, NGLCC’s Vice-President of Global Programs and Corporate Relations, conducted an instructive workshop on the concept of corporate supplier diversity. During her talk, Dees explained the value of adding LGBT suppliers and diverse vendors to corporate supply chains and how such an investment ultimately benefits a company.
To highlight her point, Dees introduced George Carrancho, formerly the manager of diversity markets for American Airlines, who shared a practical example of how mutually beneficial chamber affiliation can be in connecting LGBT businesses with corporate partners. American Airlines, a corporate partner of the NGLCC, was the first major airline to include LGBT businesses in its supplier diversity program and is the only airline to have earned the highest score of 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index every single year, from 2002-2014.
Finally, Dees concluded the workshop by introducing César Casas, CEO of the LGBT magazine Betún and founder of the Federación Mexicana de Empresas LGBT (FME), the first national LGBT chamber of commerce in Mexico. Casas explained that the best way to develop the local LGBT community is to “consume what we produce” and seek out those who possess similar social objectives. FME will serve as a convener for the LGBT business community in Mexico, and Casas hopes that, in time, the organization will move LGBT businesses out of a niche market and will “create an LGBT industry” in Mexico.
In this way, the LGBT Confex Business Expo not only served to spread the message of supplier diversity, but it also presented an excellent opportunity to showcase the NGLCC’s newly formed affiliate chamber in Mexico and the NGLCC’s burgeoning work overseas. FME was officially formed as a way to unite LGBT and LGBT-friendly business owners across Mexico’s 31 states and the capital, facilitating interaction and growth among the members. The NGLCC has partnered with FME as part of its newly formed NGLCC Global division, funded in part by the U.S. Agency for International Development.