New California Law Aims To Help Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender-Owned Businesses

Published: Friday, Jan. 2, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A first-of-its-kind law in California is aimed at helping certified businesses owned by those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

The law requires big public utilities in the state to report how much work they do with LGBT business owners. Utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric already have to report how many businesses they contract with who are owned by ethnic minorities, women and disabled veterans. Now, LGBT-certified businesses are on that list as well.

“Having the certification is a great way to get your foot in the door so that you can look at some of those opportunities and bid to win some of those contracts,” said Sam McClure, Vice President of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, which issues the certifications. “Every business owner should have a seat at the economic table. That includes women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, disabled veterans and LGBT.”

Big companies, the federal government, and organizations such as the National Football League have already begun making explicit efforts to contract with these certified companies.

McClure said the hope is that the new law will give some of these smaller businesses a chance.

“The biggest opportunities are going to be in construction or very specific things that are specific to utilities like laying cable,” he said. “I think we’re going to see prime contractors that are currently doing business with the companies that are in the California Public Utilities Commission reaching out to try to find tier 2 and 3 suppliers who are diverse as well.”

The law doesn’t mandate any contracting, but it does give the public a chance to see who is being chosen.

It covers every electrical, gas, water, wireless telecommunications service provider and telephone corporations with annual revenues exceeding $25 million. The law defines an LGBT business enterprise as one that is at least 51 percent owned by a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person or persons.

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