On Feb. 26, Chicago entrepreneurs and local community members gathered at the Silver Room boutique jewelry store in Hyde Park for a panel discussion on the Black LGBT business-owner experience.
The LGBT Chamber of Commerce Illinois hosted the discussion, with Vince Williams (director of business & entrepreneurship at the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago) moderating. Panelists included Tiffany Hudson (The Nova Collective), Jacqueline Boyd (The Care Plan) and Craig Bernard-El (The Metropolitan).
Panelists shared their experiences with owning and operating their businesses with a mind for inclusion and equity, strategizing against implicit bias and empowering their employees and communities. Developing strong bonds within the community and making inclusion a foundational part of the business model held a recurrent importance between all three entrepreneurs, and enriched by the missions of each business.
The Nova Collective is an entirely woman- and Black-owned business (MBE- and WBE-certified) that helps businesses build inclusive, diverse and equitable business cultures. Their teams are always at least half women and half Black.
The Care Plan is an aging specialist business formed to assist LGBT seniors and their families, a group who has often fallen through the cracks and been given inferior healthcare service.
The Metropolitan is a historic private membership club located in the Willis Tower. It has recently been revamped in an effort to continue fostering a private atmosphere while making the membership more diverse by reaching out to the LGBT community.
The discussion was concluded with a passionate speech by Commerce Board Member LaTonya Fourte-Lyles on the importance of supporting local businesses and circulating the dollar as many times through the neighborhood and LGBT and Black communities as possible, in order to create more opportunities.
The event was sponsored by the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, Von Poof Cotton Candy and Taylor's Tacos, who provided complementary food. The event opened and closed with drinks and socializing, as well as a raffle for tickets to the Goodman Theatre.
To find out more about the LGBT Chamber of Commerce, visit lgbtcc.com/ .