When you think about starting a business, you likely consider many of the same factors as every other business owner; What are your goals, where should you locate, what will you offer, who will you hire? Most importantly though, you will think, how will I fund this?
It’s a question every business owner asks when planning their business. Many entrepreneurs don’t think twice about applying for grants, loans, and other sources of business funding to get started. For those who identify as LGBTQ2+ or BIPOC, however, things aren’t quite so clear. There is a problem in our business world that is systematically creating barriers for business owners that are visual minorities or openly queer; funding is just one of these barriers.
According to a study done by the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and Deloitte, 20% of the members of the LGBTQ2+ community face business scaling challenges with financing as one of the top items on their list of barriers. In the same survey, 62% of respondents stated that they would not disclose their LGBTQ2+ identity in official materials or to stakeholders.
For those who are BIPOC, there is even less opportunity to hide your identity and therefore even more barriers to business. Another study conducted by The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce found that 35% of respondents never take advantage of funding programs presented, with eligibility (36%), lack of time/resources (16%), and less than 10 staff members (14%) listed as the main reasons they never apply.
Combined, the LGBTQ2+ and BIPOC communities account for roughly 25% of the Canadian population. Together, they are huge contributors to our economic, social, and cultural societies. Preventing LGBTQ2+ and BIPOC businesses from opening or operating at their full potential impacts the community as a whole. These individuals offer so many talents, perspectives, and experiences that are not shared or experienced due to business barriers. When these groups suffer, we all do.
In order to address systemic discrimination, there are many things that need to occur. Two main objectives could be:
What can small business owners do?
June is Pride Month and National Indigenous History Month in Canada. Now is the perfect time to unite with members of the LGBTQ2+ or BIPOC groups and declare yourself an active ally. We encourage you to take the next few weeks to learn, grow, and install a plan in your business to become more inclusive.