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Chamber hosts LGBT supplier diversity summit
by Matt Simonette
2019-10-01

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LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Commerce of Illinois hosted a program the afternoon of Sept. 26 for business owners, public officials and community members to learn logistics behind supplier diversity. The event took place at the downtown offices of the Baker McKenzie law firm.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Sept. 18 introduced a city resolution acknowledging and identifying LGBT-owned Chicago businesses, with the longterm goals of identifying development opportunities and opportunities within the city's procurement process. Shannon Andrews, chief procurement officer for the City of Chicago Department of Procurement Services, was on hand Sept. 26 to discuss the resolution, as was Eric Foster, director of strategic sourcing & business diversity for the Obama foundation, and Jonathan Lovitz, senior vice-president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Lovitz emphasized the importance—and ease—of obtaining a certification as an LGBT Business Enterprise ( LGBTBE ); Eboni Montsho, CEO at 360 HR Solutions, agreed with these statements. She said that the certification is "the first thing that I pursued" when she launched her business in 2018.

Other businesses "can't find you, and we can't help you, unless you're certified," he said.

Lovitz outlined common procurement procedures, and how the procurement process has evolved over the last several decades, once businesses realized their procurement procedures can significantly impact their strategic objectives.

Andrews cautioned that, while the LGBTBE certification is easy, becoming a Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise ( MWBE )—the city's umbrella certification for all minority-owned businesses—is much more rigorous, since the tenets of the certification are ultimately determined by law.

She also noted that getting the certification does not automatically entitle a business to a city contract. Additionally she reminded the audience that city contracts with MWBEs do not represent "set-asides," and meet "aspirational goals" within the framework of city business.

"This is something that's been talked about for a very long time," Andrews said. "mayor Lightfoot made it happen in less than six months."

Scott Hoesman, CEO and founder of inQuest Consulting, moderated the forum.


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