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Member Perspective: Zachary Wilcha

Posted Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Programs & Events, Member Submitted, Diversity & Inclusion

Guest Commentator: Zachary Wilcha, Executive Director, Independence Business Alliance @Think_IBA

What future growth patterns do you foresee for LGBT businesses, and how will they affect the economic development of our region?

As Executive Director of the Independence Business Alliance, Greater Philadelphia’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce, I get a front row seat watching our local LGBT economy flourish. This year, we celebrate our 10th anniversary of providing opportunities, access, and resources to our LGBT business community and visible allies, and we do so as a proud member of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s LGBT economy is part of a nationwide movement of LGBT businesses that has been contributing greatly to our nation’s economic landscape. A recent report by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce tells the story. For example:

  • In 2015, certified LGBT businesses contributed over $1.15 billion to the US economy;
  • More than 900 certified LGBT businesses have created more than 33,000 jobs;
  • LGBT businesses have been thriving, with most reporting that they have been in business for more than 12 years, which is far above the national average; and
  • LGBT businesses are representative of any industry you can imagine: from architecture to real estate, from technology to crafting, from legal to specialized medical.

Not all the news is great, however. LGBT individuals still face discrimination on many levels, including in hiring practices and termination policies. Though Philadelphia is generally progressive when it comes to LGBT protections, we are still in a state that does not protect LGBT individuals from employment discrimination. LGBT individuals — particularly queer people of color and trans individuals — face barriers to entry that our straight allies do not encounter. These are reasons that will inform our efforts to concentrate on the needs of intersectional minority and trans economic communities within the LGBT sphere.

What this means for us locally is that even in our shifting political landscape, LGBT business is growing and will continue to be a factor in the economic development of our region. Our list of certified LGBT businesses grows every year, and it will continue to grow as more business entities embrace LGBT supplier diversity — the hiring of LGBT vendors to diversify a minority spend. We are working with the City of Philadelphia to help them adopt the same practices with their contracting and procurement processes. Having a seat at the table is vital for LGBT businesses, and therefore is crucial to our area’s economic wellbeing.

LGBT individuals are business owners, innovators, job creators, taxpayers, and providers of essential benefits for our entire region. We will remain an important part of the business engine that makes our local economy run. Business in our community will continue to be a catalyst for positive change.



The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, in both its values and practices, is committed to inclusion and excellence in the management of all diverse people irrespective of differences. Learn more about the Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion practices »»

Upcoming Diversity & Inclusion Event:

The Next Frontier: A Diversity & Inclusion Program and Reception

June 8, 2017
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Ralph’s Cafe
1701 JFK Boulevard • 43rd Floor • Philadelphia, PA 19103
Tickets starting at $80

Learn more and register »

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