As a part of our Pride Month celebration, we are excited for our first #CommunitySpotlight, featuring GSBA! GSBA is Washington State’s LGBTQ+ and allied Chamber of Commerce. In partnering with GSBA, AGC Bio works to support equality and inclusion, both throughout the community and within our company.
This June, we sat down with GSBA President and CEO, Ilona Lohrey (she/her) to learn more about their impactful work in our community.
What does GSBA do?
GSBA is the leading LGBTQ+ and allied chamber of commerce in North America promoting economic and educational equity for the LGBTQ+ community. We are comprised of members who champion equality and diversity in the workplace. We offer free business consulting and courses, advocate for civil rights and small businesses in Olympia, and promote LGBTQ+ tourism through our Travel Out initiative. In addition to these efforts, GSBA is committed to investing in the future generation of leaders through the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund. Since 1991, this program has been providing financial assistance to LGBTQ+ and ally students in Washington.
How can people get involved with GSBA?
GSBA is a connector and convener of people and businesses. There are multiple ways to get involved: attend our GSBA events, become a volunteer for our scholarship program or an ambassador for our business programs, partner with us to host a networking event or workshop, hire us to provide LGBTQ+ Inclusion training for your company or organization, become a member….the list is endless and we can easily take over your calendar if you let us.
What does it mean to be a corporate partner of GSBA?
Our corporate partners not only signal to the outside world that they support equality and inclusion but at the same time show that they openly and visibly support their employees by aligning their values and corporate responsibility goals with an LGBTQ+ organization like GSBA. Being a corporate partner signifies a commitment to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) in the business world, particularly in relation to LGBTQ+ issues and shows it is recognizing the value of supporting and empowering LGBTQ+ professionals.
A corporate partnership offers several benefits to the company: Access to a network of LGBTQ+ and allied businesses, professionals and community leaders; enhanced reputation and brand image; employee engagement and pride; and tapping into the LGBTQ+ consumer market.
How is GSBA celebrating Pride Month?
GSBA is very busy during Pride month: we attend many Pride events, such as various Pride Flag raisings in the region, LGBTQ+ Proclamation events with elected officials, Pride events in Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, to name a few; we march in the Seattle Pride Parade with our staff and members, we attend major Seattle Pride sports events, and we just hosted our annual Pride Luncheon where we addressed the hateful anti-LGBTQ+ legislation sweeping our country and what we can do as Washingtonians to fight for our civil rights and especially protect our trans community. We also remind our members and community that Pride doesn’t just happen in June; we are LGBTQ+ 365 days a year.
Why is diversity, equity and inclusion important in companies and workplaces?
DEIA work is important to workplace culture because it fosters inclusive, equitable, creative, and safe space and environments. It helps attract and retain top talent. When companies prioritize DEIA, they signal to employees that they are committed to fostering a fair and inclusive environment. Companies who embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace are more productive and profitable than those who do not pay attention to DEIA because inclusive workplaces promote higher employee engagement, satisfaction and motivation. Embracing DEIA is an ethical imperative. It demonstrates a company’s commitment to fairness, equality, and social justice.
Embracing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility is not only the right thing to do but also a strategic advantage for companies in today’s world.
What are some exciting things GSBA is working on right now?
We are excited to expand our workforce development program connecting our scholars with career opportunities, internship and apprenticeship programs, job shadowing, and also focus on developing a mentorship program for business to business and for our scholars.