Utah, often known as the “Beehive State,” boasts stunning landscapes and vibrant communities. However, like other states, Utah faces challenges in achieving LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion. According to a 2017 Gallup survey, 4.5% of our population is estimated to be LGBTQ+, which is approximately 150,000 LGBTQ+ identifying Utahns. Despite significant progress toward inclusion, LGBTQ+ small business owners in Utah and nationwide still face unique obstacles on their entrepreneurial journey. These businesses contribute significantly to our economy, with the National LGBTQ+ Business Council reporting that LGBTQ+ businesses generate an estimated $1.7 trillion in economic impact annually. It is important to us to collectively support the LGBTQ+ community by actively engaging with LGBTQ+ owned small businesses, not just in June, but throughout the year.
Ways to support LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs
1. Visit LGBTQ+ Owned Businesses: One of the most effective ways to support the LGBTQ+ community is to actively participate in and shop at LGBTQ+ owned small businesses. By consciously choosing to support these businesses, we can contribute to their success and create a more inclusive economy.
2. Spread the word: Use social media platforms and word of mouth to share information about LGBTQ+ owned businesses you appreciate. Promote them, promote their products or services, and encourage others to support them.
3. Get involved with LGBTQ+ business networks: Join local LGBTQ+ chambers of commerce or trade associations to meet LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and find resources, mentoring programs, and networking opportunities. By actively participating, you contribute to the growth and empowerment of LGBTQ+ small business owners.
4. Volunteer and Collaborate: Offer your skills, expertise or resources to support LGBTQ+ owned small businesses. Volunteer your time, collaborate on projects, or provide pro bono services. By extending a helping hand, you contribute to their success and foster a sense of community.
5. Advocating for inclusive policies: Advocating and advocating for non-discriminatory policies and equal rights for LGBTQ+ individuals in the public and private sectors. Encourage corporations, government entities, and local communities to implement inclusive practices and supplier diversity programs that create opportunities for LGBTQ+-owned businesses.
During PRIDE month, and every month, let’s celebrate the achievements of LGBTQ+ small businesses and actively support LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. Each of us can support an inclusive environment where all entrepreneurs can thrive. Let’s stand together as partners and actively support the LGBTQ+ community in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Marla Trolan is the Utah District Director of the US Small Business Administration.