In this issue of Affinity Inc Magazine, we focus on the profound benefits of partnership and cite many examples of how it’s working across the business equality community. At the federal level, the U.S. Small Business Administration and National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce have created LGBT Business Builder to connect their wealth of resources with LGBT business enterprise. As the business equality movement matures, the strategic benefit associated with partnering and taking a stand increases dramatically for everyone.

The purpose of the LGBT Business Builder initiative is to remove barriers and increase access to strategic growth opportunities for America’s LGBT business owners. As a recovering policy wonk, political junkie-turned-management consultant and now a diversity magazine publisher, I believe this partnership is a no-brainer and allows for the best possible outcome. Public sector entities like SBA and NGLCC, the largest global not-for-profit advocacy organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunities for LGBT businesses, are combining their expertise in an effort to grow the LGBT business community.

Our cover story features John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management – U.S., an Affinity Inc Magazine 2015 Top Corporation for LGBT Economic Empowerment. He paints a serious but intimate view of the economics of inclusion, partnering with the LGBT equality movement and his personal commitment to human value. “We’re all equal.”

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Lance Freedman, chair of the company’s LGBT and straight ally employee resource group Global PRIDE Council, and electrical engineer Christine Bland share how LGBT and straight ally employees have been partnering to shape the future together since 1981. Lockheed Martin also partners with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays or PFLAG and sponsors the annual conference of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or oSTEM.

After an overwhelmingly positive response to his courage to wear the LGBT equality sticker on his collegiate wresting helmet at matches, ally Hudson Taylor was inspired to launch Athlete Ally. This beautifully told story shows that great partnerships are often born out of courage. Because of Hudson’s stand, his closeted gay coach, Akil Patterson, decided he needed to stand up for himself and help Hudson spread his message.

Aflac Inc.’s Wassel Lewis shares how the company is on a mission to increase the number of diverse businesses in the insurance company’s supply chain. Lewis makes a direct appeal to LGBT-owned businesses to seek out opportunities with Aflac and partner together.

We also have a profile of Trung Tieu, sharing his personal experience with PepsiCo Inc. — another Affinity Inc Magazine 2015 Top Corporation for LGBT Economic Empowerment — and commitment to diversity and inclusion. He is an award-winning leader at PepsiCo and truly understands the value of partnership within an organization. Tieu reaches across the organization, encouraging ERGs to support the supplier diversity mission.

There are overwhelming advantages to mutually beneficial partnerships with the LGBT community. Now is the time to align and partner with excellence.


Robin Dillard, Publisher