Affinity Inc Magazine debuted at the 2012 National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Business & Leadership Conference in Chicago. During the span of three years, it seems that everything has changed — but, has it really? The United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality. Other federal, state and local legal and policy decisions — for example, the recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ruling on employment discrimination — support a better business climate for the LGBT community. However, more must be done to ensure positive economic outcomes for minority, underserved and underrepresented communities. This issue of Affinity Inc Magazine is dedicated to the MORE that is being done by way of economic empowerment.
Corporate America has given MORE by leading the way in the equality movement with progressive inclusion policies and diversity initiatives that have resulted in positive economic benefits. In this issue, Aetna Inc. reaches an additional milestone on the equality-to-equity journey by adding coverage of gender reassignment procedures to the health plans offered to federal employees. Perhaps it was kismet that IBM Corp.’s first-of-a-kind LGBT supplier diversity program established in 1999 eventually encountered the dreams and aspirations of two young LGBT leaders through a magazine article two months after the birth of their organization in 2002. We get perspective through Irwin Drucker’s firsthand account of how history was made.
And finally, our cover says it all. What happens when the mission and resources of the federal government, by way of the U.S. Small Business Administration, energize the efforts of the only U.S. not-for-profit advocacy group certifying LGBT business enterprises, and they set out to make a difference? You get MORE. HomeStreet Bank making a small-business owner’s dream, Printing Palace Inc., a reality, and three men — all named Mark — collaborating to ensure the fulfillment of dreams continue. This is the story of how public (SBA), private (HomeStreet Bank) and civil society (NGLCC) align to make one couple’s journey from equality to equity a pursuit of happiness.
So, what exactly is LGBT economic empowerment? It is MORE. The technical definition would be the capacity for LGBTQ people to participate in, contribute to and benefit from basic economic growth processes in ways that recognize the value of their contributions and respect their dignity, orientations and identities. Discrimination stifles growth and progress. We are only at the beginning of this new chapter in the ongoing story of civil and human rights in this country, but there are signs that advances are being made.
And, there is still MORE — profiles of LGBT-owned businesses Moey Inc., Neil Cerbone Associates, The Focus Group/Tribury Productions, Cocktail Caterers and JDR Consulting. They represent an infinitesimal part of the LGBT business community — five out of the estimated 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses in this country.
Finally, in this issue we give you MORE with the announcement of the launch of Affinity Inc’s first-ever spinoff magazine, AIM Digital. It is designed for the LGBT business owner, business leader and the business-minded individual realizing that LGBT economic empowerment is the next frontier.
Robin Dillard, Publisher