By Michelle Burkart
There is that saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” For our LGBT business community, that silver lining comes in the form of LGBTBE certifications. Since 2003, when National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) first launched the Supplier Diversity Initiative, I have witnessed a tremendous growth in LGBT business owners becoming certified.
One of the main reasons is that it is important to have a voice and to be counted, especially in this political environment. And what better way to be counted with the Trump administration than to grow our rainbow color of green $$$.
According to Eric Trump, “The one color my father responds to is green!”
So, for our message to be heard, we all must recognize and promote the economic impact of the $1.7 trillion dollars our LGBT community contributes to the national economy. Which, by the way, is larger than the gross domestic product of Russia.
Our LGBTBE business profile this month is Bair Financial Planning, located in the Mission Valley area of San Diego.
Marci Bair, a San Diego native, is president of this company, and vice president of the Wealth Consulting Group, of which she is a member. Marci is a certified financial planner as well as a registered investment advisor and she is ready to be counted.
In September 2017, Bair Financial Planning celebrated its 25th year in business as an independent boutique wealth management firm, with $120 million dollars of assets under advisement.
Marci has three employees besides herself, including Victor Orozco, who started as an intern with Bair Financial Planning while in college. Through Marci’s mentorship, he became a financial planner, and advanced through various positions to become managing partner and director of operations.
Marci has been very active in the LGBT community on so many levels, as well as being a tireless networker, always helping her fellow LGBT business owners. She remembers the Supplier Diversity Initiative’s launch in 2003. However, it was not until 2017 that she finally became LGBTBE certified through the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and also became certified as a Woman-Owned Business at the same time.
Since she has been around from the start of this Supplier Diversity Initiative, my first question was why it took her so long.
“Literally, just taking the time to sit down and do it,” Marci said. “Last year I attended the “Let’s Work It!” trainings and realized it is not that difficult to do. When I sat down finally, it took about two to three hours to gather documents and to apply. The ones for the CPUC and NGLCC are about the same and simple to do.
So why now? What made 2017 so different?
“The catalyst for me was based on the political climate and the current administration,” Marci explained. “I not only wanted to be counted and to be heard, I felt we needed to walk the talk. Since we work with investing in socially-conscious businesses, we felt that being LGBTBE certified would support our company mission, the LGBT community, and help to build our LGBT economic impact nationally.
“The LGBTBE certification aligns with our company culture and goals,” she continued. “We are working on our B-Corporation status this year. A B-Corporation designation is a company that promotes being a socially-conscious, responsible business entity that works towards the greater good in their business transactions.”
Now that you are certified, what is on the horizon for Bair Financial Planning?
“First, we will strategize a plan of action, which is how we start any new revenue venture,” Marci said. “We have over 1,000 other LGBTBE-certified businesses nationwide for networking and researching what worked, and what did not work for them. We will review what market our services may be able to target by being certified, and through the NGLCC, we have access to 160 corporate supplier diversity partners as a starting point. We could also meet with the Diversity Supplier Alliance for the execution of the steps required to get our certification program developed; i.e. marketing capability statements, any accounting changes we may need, etc. Also, we would use the newly acquired certifications to add to the branding we already have in place.”
After all you have been through getting certified, what advice would you offer those who are looking into this program?
“First, I would tell them that there are business contracts that are now being set aside for LGBTBE-certified businesses, waiting to be filled from companies that want to do business with us,” she said. “So, I say, why not me, or why not you? Do not hesitate to at least reach out and learn about this certification from a business development prospective.
“People think they are too small, but there are ‘tiered’ contracting levels and you may qualify for a smaller piece of the pie, so can get started that way by subcontracting to the prime contractor,” Marci said.
It may have taken Marci Bair and Bair Financial Planning 15 years to get certified, but in perspective, I hear the excitement in her voice talking about the new opportunities she now has for her firm.
In March, I will be attending the WBA LGBT Economic Summit and Conference to discuss “Setting the LGBT Economic Agenda” from March 15-16 at the Hyatt Embarcadero in San Francisco. WBA stands for the Western Business Alliance, the group of LGBT chambers of commerce in the western region.
Join us next month for a review of that event and to meet another LGBTBE-certified business.
— Michelle Burkart is the principal at Diversity Supplier Alliance. Questions? Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on LGBTBE certification visit diversitysupplieralliance.com.