It was such a great honor to attend the Golden Gate Business Association Annual Member Meeting and Election night at the headquarters of Gap Inc. in San Francisco. The GGBA has a long and rich history, it is the world’s first LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce and it was founded in 1974. At the September 11 meeting, the campaign manager for the UN’s Free and Equal campaign, Reikke Hennum addressed the members and went over their global vision and how companies around the world are signing on the U.N. Standards of Business which in summary state that companies should respect human rights of LGBTI workers and stand up for the rights of LGBTI people in the communities where they work. You can find out more about this campaign here: https://www.unfe.org/
The GGBA is unlike any other chamber of commerce. One of the biggest complains I hear when I talk with people about joining this or other local chambers that we belong to (San Mateo Area Chamber of Commerce, San Bruno Chamber of Commerce,Daly City/Colma Chamber of Commerce, South San Francisco Chamber of Commerce), is that networking mixers sometimes feel like an amplified version of a high school social event. Many feel left out, or that it is difficult to network when there is clearly a “clique” or “in crowd” dynamic. I can agree, many networking events I’ve attended do have a feel like that. Perhaps the effort is not made by the chamber, association or professional group leadership to promote a culture of inclusiveness and openness. Business/professional dialogue is replaced by promises of bites and wine, and mindless chatter. I can say wholeheartedly, this is not the case with the GGBA. From the time we joined, back on September 16, 2013 we felt at home. The chamber does a great job at connecting individual members to one another, and at least in our experience, GGBA veteran board of directors members Paul Pendergast, Audry deLucia, Dawn Ackerman to name a few, have always gone the extra mile to welcome people, new and old to the monthly make contact events.
Don’t get me wrong, I love some red wine and crackers, but I can get that at home or with friends. When I make time to go to a business networking event, I want to do business. I may not buy life insurance from someone I just met or transfer my retirement accounts to a new investment banker on the spot, but I like to meet like minded business owners, business representatives, even nonprofit representatives and connect. I may not be a good fit for their needs, perhaps they are set and don’t have any plans for an office move but there may be other ways in which we can complement each other.
I also must note that the GGBA is a great at connecting its members to resources. We found out about a minority business enterprise certification thru the GGBA. This allowed us to apply and receive a contract for moving services with Super Bowl 50 when it was hosted in the San Francisco Bay Area! We were also connected to Google’s and Tuck School of Business (Dartmouth) Digital Excellence Program thru an event that GGBA recommended to us. Our digital presence and awareness just improved tremendously after our learning experiences there.
We also buy from GGBA member businesses. Ella Print for example has done awesome promotional products for us, and we feel so lucky to have quality products made right here in the Bay Area. Our trucks got a much needed facelift with GGBA member A52 Signs and Graphics, the work was of highest quality and they were able to work around our schedule. Our employee medical, dental and vision benefits are brokered thru GGBA member Joe Partida. Gina Grahame has helped us with employee development around Diversity Training. And our trusted tax accountant is also GGBA member Richard Zee. In other words, there is really a wealth of resources that can be accessed via your GGBA membership.
Lastly, it is with great pride that we congratulate our own Olga Garcia on becoming nominated and elected to the GGBA Board of Directors. Olga has been representing our company at the Make Contact events and other GGBA sponsored seminars and workshops and has built an impressive network which includes LGBTI members and allies. We are excited for Olga on this new responsibility and look forward to the continued success of the vibrant and thriving GGBA business community.