Monday, March 27, 2023

Upcoming Conference Helps Businesses Reach LGBT Customers and Employees

Equality Virginia estimates that there are 185,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) consumers and professionals in Virginia, and 84% of Virginia residents support nondiscrimination protections for them.

Unfortunately, Virginia lags behind when it comes to such protections. In fact, it’s still perfectly legal for an LGBT person to be fired, denied housing, or refused service simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. While many Virginia business owners, government agencies, and organizations know how vital LGBT employees and customers are to their success, some desire a better understanding of their sensitivities and needs.

The 2017 Equality Means Business (EMB) Symposium offers those businesses and organizations practical training in creating an inclusive work environment and attracting LGBT consumers who generally prefer to patronize businesses which are LGBT-owned or allied. LGBT consumers contributed $917 billion to the United States economy in 2015.

The conference takes place on September 7 at the Crowne Plaza Marina in downtown Hampton. It is co-sponsored by Equality Virginia, Hampton Roads Business Outreach (HRBOR), and the Richmond Business Alliance (RBA)

“No matter the size of your staff or customer base, business owners and HR professionals from every industry will benefit from this conference,” said Tracy Skinner, President of HRBOR, Hampton Roads’ LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “Whether you are just getting started or you already have inclusive policies in place, you can learn more about opening your doors to the LGBT community.”

The Symposium consists of two afternoon tracks comprised of three workshops each.

Track One is for those interested in welcoming and affirming LGBT employees and clients but who have limited experience with the community:

“Identifying and Addressing Implicit Bias.”
Dr. Archana Pathak, renowned scholar and feminist activist at Virginia Commonwealth University

“Policy Language & LGBTQ Cultural Competency”
Alexandra Gabriel, from Williams Mullen’s Labor & Employment practice, and Vee Lamneck, Deputy Director at Equality Virginia

“Economic Advantage of LGBTQ Inclusion & Visibility”
Wirth Confry, head of the Governor’s LGBT Tourism Task Force at the Virginia Tourism Corporation

Track Two is for those who have LGBT customers and employees but want to create a more inclusive and affirming business and workplace.

“Helping Others Identify and Address Implicit Bias”
Speaker TBD

“How to Make Your Workplace Reflect Your Values”
Sam McClure, Vice President of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

“Being Trans-Affirming in the Workplace
Bary Hausrath, lead attorney at BaryLaw, a firm serving the needs of the Richmond LGBT community, and Vee Lamnec

Following the workshops, McClure will discuss how businesses and organizations can earn LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) certification through the NGLCC. Certified businesses gain access to 150 corporate partners and supplier diversity programs, plus business-to-business connections with more than 900 LGBTBE worldwide businesses and governmental procurement opportunities.

Immediately following the symposium, HRBOR invites all conference participants to attend its monthly OPEN business networking event, also at the Crown Plaza Marina-Hampton.

Register online at Registration is $50 per person and includes admission to the HRBOR OPEN networking event. HRBOR members receive a 50% discount. Businesses interested in becoming a HRBOR member and receiving the discount code can do so by emailing

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