Over the past few years, several professional, college and Olympic athletes have come out of the closet. And the sports communities from which they come have launched diversity training programs and guidelines to educate their athletes, coaches and staff.
It is safe to say that the sports world is paying attention to the LGBT community.
Earlier this summer, it was announced that the United States Tennis Association had become a corporate partner with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and would be opening their supply chain to LGBT-certified businesses.
And now, the National Football League has announced that the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee will include Bay Area LGBT-certified businesses in its Business Connect program for contracting opportunities related to the Super Bowl championship game to be held at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 7, 2016.
The Business Connect program brings small businesses into the supplier mix and began accepting applications on Nov. 17 from businesses in the nine-county Bay Area that are certified as women-owned, minority-owned, disabled veteran-owned and now businesses that are certified as LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBE).
The Washington-based National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is the exclusive third party LGBT-certification program for businesses wishing to gain that status.
The road to the agreement with the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee began with California Gov. Jerry Brown signing into law on Sept. 26, public mandate AB 1678 which added LGBT-certified businesses to the list of minority-owned businesses that would have contracting opportunities with the California Public Utilities Commission.
“It was an auspicious occasion for the city of San Francisco to be hosting Super Bowl 50,” says Sam McClure, vice president of Affiliate Relations & External Affairs for the Chamber. “Our local chapter, the Golden Gate Business Association, went to the San Francisco mayor, Ed Lee, and insisted that now is the time to be working with the NFL to make this change.”
To become a certified LGBT Business Enterprise, a business must meet certain criteria which includes being 51 percent owned and operated by an LGBT person or persons.
“During the application process, a series of documents are submitted, followed by a site visit and an interview with the owner. It then goes before a national review committee,” McClure says. “The whole process can take less than 30 days and the application fee of $400 is waived if the business joins a local chapter.”
According to McClure, the supply chain for contracting opportunities from the Department of Commerce is $40 billion and $14 billion is intended for small business enterprises.
The Chamber has been working hard to crack the code that will allow LGBT business enterprises to have an equal chance to bid on those contracts.
“We talk about equality in different lenses. Economic empowerment is one of the last pieces in the march to equality,” McClure says. “We are past trying to open doors; now we are kicking them in.”
The idea of an LGBT business enterprise partnering with the NFL’s Business Connect program went from concept to reality in a matter of weeks.
Christopher Dydyk Fine Art Photography, a member of the local LGBT chamber, Golden Gate Business Association, was invited to the 40th anniversary grand reception for the Association on Nov. 10 where he photographed Mayor Ed Lee being handed a football by Association board members.
He sent the photos to a member of the Business Connect program and a week later at the kick-off workshop, he was told they were looking for a photographer. He submitted a bid and won the contract becoming the first local LBGT business enterprise to secure a spot.
Dydyk, who works alone, will be photographing for the Official Super Bowl 50 Twitter Feed which will have guest celebrity tweeters.
“It is not a big contract but it is exciting and it is a first,” Dydyk says, “They are reaching out and we are reaching in.”