Photo Credit:Kim Linonis

It’s Pride month and around the country LGBTQ people are celebrating their successes in achieving equal rights, and gearing up for all the work that still remains.  I went to the Pride Parade in DC over the weekend with friends of mine and their kids. We surrendered to the crush of people, found our spot, and waved, hooted and cheered with everyone there.

Capital One and Marriott International were among the many companies who had floats in the parade. I noted them because I know I’ll see them at conferences this summer (more on that in a bit).  Although we didn’t get there in time to get the best spot on the parade route I asked my friend if she felt like she got a good pride experience. She said she felt prouder than yesterday, but not as proud as tomorrow.

I have to say, I like that optimism.

What does Pride have to do with your next big client?

Pride is about diversity and inclusion. It’s about how love is love and also about being able to be yourself at work and at home and on vacation.  The companies that are looking for diverse suppliers support that mission. They support the Pride Parade. Marriott (pictured above) was the presenting sponsor of this year’s Capital Pride Parade and their float read “Love Travels.” They also have initiatives to support the LGBTQ people in their workforce and in their supply chain.  Summer is a great time to take advantage of those supplier diversity initiatives because there will be three major conferences in the summer months. The organizations for women business owners, disability owned businesses, and LGBTQ businesses are all holding conferences this summer.

Summer Supplier Diversity Conferences
WBENC National Conference, June 25-27

Thousands of women-owned businesses will join hundreds of multinational corporations in the nation’s largest business fair focused buying from women. Women’s Business Enterprise National Conference (WBENC) in Baltimore June 25-27. This conference also has programs for NextGen entrepreneurs on Monday and Tuesday which are free to attend.

Disability:IN Conference, July 15-18

The Disability:IN Conference in Chicago July 15-18 Includes a supplier diversity track in their conference sessions along with workshops, panels and roundtables focused Workplace, Global, and Technology issues that face people with disabilities.

NGLCC International Business and Leadership Conference, August 13-16

The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business and Leadership Conference will be in Tampa, Florida and will welcome LGBTQI business owners and the corporations have goals for buying from them.

What should I expect?

You should expect a lot of people, a lot of opportunities and, if you haven’t been before, a little confusion and overwhelm.

Heather Cox, my business partner in Diversity Masterminds and I will be at these conferences encouraging attendees to #StumpDiversityMasterminds.  We want people to ask us their most challenging questions about supplier diversity and see if they can stump us.

Heather and I have both been attending these conferences for years. We’ve seen the highs and the lows, the does and the don’ts and we want to share what we’ve learned. We think we have a lot of answers… but we might not have all the questions.

We are looking forward to seeing how getting input from more voices can inform and guide the next Diversity Masterminds cohorts. We want others to help us see something we haven’t seen for ourselves. If you’re going, come find us with your challenges and frustrations. That’s what these conferences are about and what the networks are here for.