The GSBA Blog


  • BizDiversity: Expanding the influence of diversity in mainstream business culture

    by Samuel Rodriguez
    | Sep 06, 2018
    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member business, BizDiversity. Join us in welcoming BizDiversity to GSBA!


    2018MEMBERSPOTLIGHT_BizDiversity_145x135BizDiversity is a multicultural business community, and our purpose is to support the expanded influence of diversity in the mainstream business culture. The BizDiversity site is a platform for education, collaboration, promotion, inclusion, and influence.

    We started our business in 2011 as decision to improve diversity, equality, and inclusion in multi-cultural businesses so they can thrive and grow through cross-sector business development. At BizDiversity, we develop success by creating an environment of diversity and inclusion.

    • Education – The BizDiversity community teaches business owners how to profitably build influence with and across cultural boundaries.
    • Collaboration – The site helps business leaders to find win/win collaboration partners by providing education and tools to develop communication, cooperation, and commitment.
    • Promotion – BizDiversity provides directories, ads, and other tools to promote your business inside and across multi-cultural business barriers.
    • Inclusion – It’s basic economics—we all do better when we all contribute what we do best.
    • Influence – With a membership program that is growing every day, we are able to influence the traditional business community in positive ways that promote everyone.

    We work to promote an environment of diverse perspectives, work experiences, lifestyles, languages and unique cultures.


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    To us, ‘equality is good business’ means building awareness of a world with greatness, practicing inclusion, and promoting diversity.

    Register your business in our DEI directory for your free listing: directory.bizdiversity.net.







  • Whim W’him: Innovative, collaborative, contemporary dance

    by Krina Turner
    | Aug 31, 2018

    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member nonprofit, Whim W’him. Join us in welcoming the Whim W’him team to GSBA!


    Tell us about your business. How and when did you get started? Why did you decide to build your business?

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    Whim W’Him is an award-winning Seattle-based contemporary dance company founded in 2009 by Olivier Wevers, former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer and choreographer. The company showcases groundbreaking dance creations in collaboration with global artists, while paying dancers a living wage and offering health benefits.


    Whim W'him is a contemporary dance company founded in 2009 by Olivier Wevers, former PNW Ballet principal dancer and choreographer.


    The company is committed to innovation, collaboration, and high caliber relevant art that engages and challenges audiences.

    We have performed original works by Danielle Agami, Juanjo Arques, Andrew Bartee, Adam Barruch, Banning Bouldin, Lauren Edson, James Gregg, Mark Haim, Joseph Hernandez, Gabrielle Lamb, Larry Keigwin, Maurya Kerr, Gabrielle Lamb, Loni Landon, MADBOOTS, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Joshua Peugh, Bruno Roque, Ihsan Rustem, Penny Saunders, Pascal Touzeau, Manuel Vignoulle, Kate Wallich, Dominic Walsh and Olivier Wevers.

    What are you sharing with the world that you want your fellow GSBA members to know about?

    Our 18/19 season kicks off in September! In our 9th season we are sharing 8 world-premiere creations featuring 7 stellar dancers and 6 internationally recognized choreographers. Come to a performance to discover something new and leave inspired.

    What does 'equality is good business' mean to you?

    Equality is good business means doing great by doing good in the world. Everyone is welcome at Whim W’Him.

    Why did you decide to become a GSBA member?

    A big portion of our company leadership, staff and audience members identify as LGBTQ. We want to connect and collaborate with businesses and individuals who share our values.

    How can our readers get involved?

    Choreographic Shindig IV opens September 7! Get a 20% discount by entering the code “whimmer” before checkout.

    The Choreographic Shindig was created in 2015 to give our dancers the power to choose which choreographers would set work on them. This unique program helps us achieve our mission to provide a platform centered on choreography and dance for artists to explore their craft through innovation and collaboration. We are the only professional dance company with this unique program.

    Anything else you'd like to share about your business?

    Our work is made possible only through generous donations and volunteer time. If you want to get involved and gain behind the scenes access email us at info@whimwhim.org.





  • Finding the Inspired Transgender Care You Deserve | Pacific Medical Centers

    by Pacific Medical Centers
    | Aug 27, 2018

    When therapist Rene D. Czerwinski, LMHC, NCC, learned that almost half of transgender Americans attempt suicide in their lifetimes, her strong commitment to providing excellent care to transgender patients was reconfirmed. “That’s way higher than the national average for any other group. It’s a shocking number,” she says.

    Rene’s practice at Pacific Medical Centers is underpinned by a key message: you are not alone, and there is support. Rene has pursued specialized training and certification in transgender care. At PacMed, she works with other health care providers who are open to continuous professional learning and committed to team care for their patients.

    Rene works with transgender people as well as their parents. Parents of transgender children need to know they are not alone and that there are people out there who understand what they are going through.

    The Need for Unified Services

    In an international study published by the National Institutes of Health,* the rate of attempted suicide by transgender persons ranges from 32 percent to 50 percent around the world. Transgender people also face increased risk of discrimination, bullying, and violence, plus the loss of their support systems if rejected by family, friends, and the larger community. The police, health care providers, and other service providers often don’t have training or knowledge to provide high quality care to transgender people. All of these, of course, can influence the well-being of transgender people.

    Rene sees a need for transgender services, a care area that she feels is not well understood. “Being transgender is not an illness,” she says. She explains that the emotional struggles of people who are transgender are often related to social anxiety, fear of rejection, self-image, and body image. This is part of what Rene helps patients, family, and communities understand. Rene knows firsthand what family members might need to know during transition: her child is transgender.


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    Respectful Mental Health Support

    For clients who are transgender or exploring, Rene emphasizes that being transgender doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. “We need to remove the stigma that being transgender is a mental health issue or an illness,” Rene says. “By doing so, we can see that the anxiety and depression that get attached to being transgender are related to the fears about how others will react or how sometimes our bodies don’t match what we want them to be.”

    Clients who are considering transitioning, with treatments ranging from hormones to surgeries, may need the services of not only physicians, surgeons, and a counselor, but also a psychiatrist. Together, these professionals can make sure that insurance qualifications are met and provide letters and other documentation. They can help research support resources and care options and provide guidance during the process.

    Your Body, Your Choice

    Rene’s experience and training has heightened her awareness of how to create an accepting space for her patients. “It’s important for a caregiver to come on board with the patient—to not try to tell them how or what to feel,” she explains.

    Therapy is a place to explore where a person is now and their desires for the future. Transgender care encompasses everything from small changes to big shifts. A transgender person doesn’t—and shouldn’t—have to know their destination immediately to receive excellent care.

    “I remind my patients that everybody is going to look different. We don’t have to know that this is exactly how we want to look. Maybe you want to be somewhere in the middle,” says Rene. “We’ll find what works best for you because it’s your body, your choice.”

    The Care at PacMed

    Transgender people get to choose the right path for their personal journey. They need physicians who support them through the process—“in whatever stage you’re in and whatever stage you want to go to,” adds Rene.

    Pac med 2018

    Primary care physicians are a good starting point. When meeting a new provider, it’s important to be open about yourself, ask questions, and listen and watch how the provider responds. A good primary care doctor should be able to provide culturally competent care so that you feel comfortable and safe sharing who you are.

    “One of the things I really like is when a physician feels free to ask questions, to consult with me and other providers, to learn what they need to know about this person. That’s a good sign,” says Rene.

    At PacMed, you will have a point person to coordinate your care. Your team will communicate and consult with one another to keep each other on the same page with your goals. We want you to experience a unified approach to your care.



    2018MEMBERSPOTLIGHT_PacMed2_135x135Rene D. Czerwinski, LMHC, NCC, practices Behavioral Medicine at the Pacific Medical Centers clinic in Totem Lake and is also a Board Certified Transgender Therapist through International Transgender Certification Association in Florida. PacMed offers licensed therapists and psychiatrists, an Endocrinology team and more than 60 board-certified primary care providers for adults at 10 clinics in the Puget Sound region.









  • WA State Employers: the Paid Family & Medical Leave program impacts your business in 2019. Are you ready?

    by Matt LaPalm | Paid Family and Medical Leave – Employment Security Department – State of Washington
    | Aug 24, 2018

    Washington is soon to be the fifth state to offer paid family and medical leave benefits.

    Our workers will no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and making ends meet. They can dedicate their time away from work to be the best caretaker they can be. In return, employers have access to an inexpensive competitive benefit, save on payroll costs while the worker is on leave, and reduce employee turnover costs. Washington is a leader and our Paid Family and Medical Leave program is ready to prove it in 2019.

    Workers can begin taking leave in 2020, but next year, employers will have some actions to take.


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    First, employers need to withhold premiums from paychecks starting with the first check in 2019. These premiums are split between employers and workers. Workers foot most of the bill, but employers with 50 or more employees also have a portion to pay.

    Employers with fewer than 50 employees don’t have to pay premiums but are still responsible for collecting and remitting the workers share. Premiums are paid to the Employment Security Department by employers quarterly, starting in 2019. Learn more about premiums on our Premiums page.

    Second, all employers will report wages, hours worked, and more. This reporting will be done at the end of each calendar quarter. The first reports will be in April 2019. These reports will be done through a website that is under development. We will share more about what needs to be reported on our Reporting page when it is available.

    Do you have a similar plan you already like? You can turn that plan into a Voluntary Plan. Applications for Voluntary Plans start in September of this year. You can learn more on our Voluntary Plan page.

    Want to learn more? We would be happy to come to you. Our team is accepting presentation requests now, and we can provide these presentations free of charge. Please fill out our presentation request as soon as possible as our calendar is filling quickly.

    Please feel free to email me (mlapalm@esd.wa.gov) directly. I am happy to answer your questions or find an answer if I don’t know it. We are excited to work with GSBA in preparing Washington’s businesses for this new program and I am thankful for this venue.






  • The Hepatitis Education Project: Working to eliminate viral hepatitis in the U.S. by 2030

    by Jason Sterne
    | Aug 24, 2018
    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member nonprofit, the Hepatitis Education Project (HEP). Join us in welcoming HEP to the GSBA family!

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    The Hepatitis Education Project (HEP) is a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works primarily with underserved and marginalized populations, and for 25 years HEP has been a leader in addressing the public health burden created by viral hepatitis.

    HEP was started in 1993 by a group of patients and medical professionals who wanted to provide support and education to others living with viral hepatitis.

    In February of 2000, HEP opened one of the only Hepatitis Resource Centers in the country, a walk-in and telephone support center for hepatitis patients and family members. Over the past 25 years, HEP’s programs have evolved to focus on communities that are disproportionately impacted by the disease. These populations include people with low incomes; people who are uninsured or underinsured; people experiencing homelessness and/or housing instability; people who inject drugs; incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals; and immigrant and refugee communities.

    Today, HEP conducts hepatitis education to incarcerated individuals in every WA state prison and outreaches to over 50 locations in the state, conducting more than 1500 hepatitis C tests a year. HEP’s hepatitis C medical case management program is one of the most robust in the country, and their advocacy work at the city, state and federal level has bolstered some big policy wins, including the removal of treatment restrictions in WA that were not evidence-based and causing unnecessary progression of the disease.


    HEP is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this year. We are having a celebration event on September 29th2018, 5:30pm at Bell Harbor Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle WA. 


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    The mortality rate from complications related to hepatitis C has surpassed that of HIV in the US, and there are an estimated 100,000 people living with hepatitis C in WA State. For many years HEP has advocated for the need of a public health strategy to eliminate the virus in the state. Now, aligned with the World Health Organization’s targeted goal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public threat by 2030, jurisdictions across the U.S. have begun to take concrete steps towards viral hepatitis elimination.

    The tools currently exist to do so. There are highly effective cures for hepatitis C and vaccines available for hepatitis B. Treatment costs have dramatically reduced so that it is now more cost-effective to treat and cure than it is to manage the liver damage caused by the disease.

    We are close in WA State. With hope, WA State agencies, legislature and Governor’s office will follow in the footsteps of states like NY and agree on a plan to eliminate the virus. If passed, HEP’s work will be instrumental in serving some of the most vulnerable populations in our state.

    If we don’t act now, countless more lives will be lost. We CAN eliminate viral hepatitis in our lifetime, averting about 90,000 deaths in the United States by 2030. 

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    What does 'equality is good business' mean to you?

    HEP prefers to talk about equality and equity together. Equality works when there is a level playing field. Equity means for things to be equal, some communities may need additional support or resources. This is extremely important for the populations HEP serves. Overcoming barriers and addressing determinants of health that negatively affect many marginalized communities, is vital for making that level playing field, so things can be equal.


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    Why did you decide to become a GSBA member?

    Hepatitis C disproportionality affects the MSM community and being coinfected with HIV more than triples the risk for liver disease, liver failure and liver-related death. HEP partners with LGBTQ health and service organizations in our outreach programming as many don’t understand the risk or know how to protect themselves from exposure.

    It was important for HEP to become a GSBA member as we need to raise awareness about the silent disease impacting our community. HEP also values inclusion, self-expression, and social justice, which are all values of GSBA, so it was a natural fit.


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    HEP is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this year. We are having a celebration event on September 29th, 2018, 5:30pm at Bell Harbor Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle WA. 

    We are looking to the GSBA membership to join us at the celebration event or support HEP’s mission through sponsorship or donation to our auction. HEP is a 501c3 organization registered in the State of Washington. www.hepeducation.org







     

  • LGBTQ Scholarship: Fundraising on Facebook for Future Scholars

    by Mark Rosén
    | Aug 23, 2018

    Mark Rosén, VP of Development and External Relations, recently held a Facebook fundraiser to celebrate his birthday and raise funds for the GSBA Scholarship Fund. In this blog post, he shares his success in raising over $1,500 for LGBTQ and allied scholars.


    2018GSBAStaff-MarkI’ll admit, I was somewhat skeptical of Facebook fundraisers that friends had created. As a professional fundraiser, I wasn’t so sure that this kind of an effort would yield results, and I also wasn’t sure how Facebook handled transferring money.

    I already knew that some of our loyal Scholarship supporters had created fundraisers in the past, but it hadn’t been easy to track the results.

    With the aid and expertise of GSBA Marketing Specialist Al Smith, we decided to give it a try, so for my 62nd birthday (yes, I’m really that old), we created a Facebook fundraiser. It was easy to add find and select GSBA as the recipient.

    Al had already done all of the set up work to make sure that the Scholarship Fund was properly registered and that the funds would transfer, so I didn’t have to worry about any of those details. I just wrote a heartfelt post, added the Scholarship fund link, set a goal of $500, and hit share.


    GSBA Scholars
    GSBA Scholars during the 2018 Leadership Immersion Weekend.


    I also went the extra step of inviting friends from my list who I knew might be interested in supporting the Scholarship Fund with a small donation.

    Almost as soon as I hit the share button, friends began to donate. Within 30 minutes I had reached my goal!

    Needless to say, Al and I were a bit blown away and not sure what to do! I had set the donation period for one month to give people a chance to participate. The fervor at which the initial donations came in gave us the courage to raise the goal to $1,500.

    By the time my actual birthday rolled around a week and a half later, that goal was not only reached; but it was exceeded. I’m so happy to report that this was such an easy way for friends to support the cause nearest and dearest to me.


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    The added bonus is that my action inspired two more friends of the Scholarship Fund to create birthday fundraisers! I’ve gone from a doubting Thomas to a true believer in the blink of one short birthday month. What a great way to celebrate and avoid the challenge of figuring out what to buy as a gift! Instead, with a couple of clicks, you can easily open up a path to creating a gift for many!

    If you feel inspired to follow our lead but need a little help, don’t hesitate to contact either Al (als@thegsba.org) or me (markr@thegsba.org) at the GSBA office. We are happy to help.

    More about creating a Facebook fundraiser.




  • Pink Boat Regatta—on track to raise half a million dollars for breast cancer research

    by The Pink Boat Regatta
    | Aug 17, 2018

    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member nonprofit. Pink Boat Regatta. Join us in welcoming the Pink Boat team to the family!


    The Pink Boat Regatta is a timed ‘round the buoys’ race in which participants compete on and off the water through a unique “buy-a-buoy” concept. For each $100 donated on behalf of a participant, the sailboat earns an extra “buoy” on race day, thus creating a fun, competitive, and highly effective fundraising environment.

    THE PINK BOAT STORY

    The Pink Boat Regatta began with a sailor, daughter, and scientist wanting to do more. Ashley Bell had recently fallen in love with sailing when she learned her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer - for the second time.

    Having been adopted at birth, Ashley hasn't met her mother until after the first diagnosis and treatment a decade earlier, and was determined to support her from several thousand miles away. Inspired by a sailing event in San Francisco, Ashley decided to rebrand the event and bring it to Seattle where she lives.

    In 6 years, The Pink Boat Regatta has raised more than $460,000 for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation to date representing 100% of all net proceeds. These efforts have funded nearly 6,400 hours of research!


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    Every year, sailors and supporters alike start planning months ahead of time to don their pink, get their sailboats race ready, and begin campaigning as part of an event which was built upon by a passionate little Seattle sailing community dedicated to getting on the water for something greater. Something affecting us all. Something we CAN do something about, just by coming together and doing what we love most - being on the water.


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    Our 2018 events will include:

    • Regattas in Bellingham, Seattle, and new for 2018: Tacoma
      • Bellingham – August 25, 2018
      • Seattle – September 8, 2018
      • Tacoma – September 15, 2018
    • “Day at the Races” Seattle spectator event during which our non-sailing supporters will board the Argosy Sightseer race day from which to enjoy the festivities, support the boat(s) of their choosing, and vote for the coveted ‘Pinkest Boat’ award recipient.
    • Additional “Pink Power Squadron” powerboat format for Tacoma participants

    For more information, visit our website at:  www.pinkboatregatta.org.

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  • Looking Forward to #NGLCC18: International Business & Leadership Conference

    by Al Smith
    | Aug 13, 2018

    This week, three GSBA staff members will be attending the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business & Leadership Conference. This annual gathering of LGBTQ chambers from around the country offers an opportunity for GSBA to connect with our long-time colleagues and new partners in equality.

    Will you be there? Let us know at communications@theGSBA.org. We’d love to connect.


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    We asked our staff what they are looking forward to most at #NGLCC2018:

    Meridian Mayer, Sr. Membership Services Manager

    2018GSBAStaff-MeridianAs a first-time NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference attendee, I am most looking forward to making new connections and learning as much as I can. In my role at GSBA I manage several programs, including the Travel Out Seattle tourism initiative.

    Connecting with hospitality and tourism industry leaders to explore their programs and initiatives presents a great opportunity to promote the PNW and share expertise. I have found it rewarding to glean perspective from other industry leaders, come back to market, and implement key learnings for strategic growth.

    There is so much industry knowledge out there—I am grateful to be able to attend. Plus, Martha Stewart will be there, so, enough said!

    Ilona Lohrey, Director of Membership, Outreach & Engagement

    2018GSBAStaff-IlonaSince taking on the Supplier Diversity Initiative at GSBA, I have made many wonderful connections with corporate and government Supplier Diversity Officers who are committed to supporting small and diverse businesses.

    I very much appreciate being able to engage with our certified LGBT Business Enterprises who bring a variety of different experience levels and knowledge to the table and to hear about their success stories in landing a new contract and sometimes very creative ways with getting a foot in the door.

    The NGLCC Conference provides a platform for me to meet existing partners and chamber colleagues and make new connections in the Supplier Diversity world—its own little biosphere!

    Louise Chernin, President and CEO

    2018GSBAStaff-LouiseFor me, attending the NGLCC Conference is all about connecting with colleagues and friends from other LGBTQ chambers. I generally attend the Chamber track and get to learn and share best practices from large and small chambers throughout the country.

    Of course, I also love the opportunity to be introduced to prospective corporate partners. Where else can one spend time with over 1,200 LGBTQ business professionals? What a treat!



  • Tackling workplace drama, cultivating peace and increasing productivity with Jami Hudson

    by Jami Hudson
    | Aug 09, 2018

    This week we are featuring a new member, certified mediator and life/business coach Jami Hudson. Join us in welcoming Jami!

    Less drama leads to more of the good stuff, like peacefulness and productivity. Like serenity and satisfaction. I started Drama Free Workplaces because I am certain I can help you get more of the good stuff and enjoy life in and out of the workplace.

    Take Jami's conflict resolution survey! The survey includes questions on the type of conflict and the types of support you need, the cost of conflict to the organization, and the type of training that would be most beneficial.

    My name is Jami Hudson and I am the Stop the Drama Mama. After helping hundreds of clients stop the drama and teaching at the graduate level, I am certain I can help you reclaim peace. Or perhaps find it for the first time in your life.

    Conflict is an expensive thief. Our relationship to conflict can restore us or sink us. We want things—or let’s be honest, people—to change, but we succumb to old patterns of dealing with the issue AND the people. We do this even though we know the adage, “doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity.”

    Conflict is also drama. A drama triangle, complete with victims, heroes, and villains. But we can recast the roles and change the story. I can't wait to show you how!

    Jami Hudson Member Profile 8-11-2018 

    I joined GSBA because I believe in doing what I can to change my little corner of the world and my favorite corner is Seattle. Also, as part of the LGBTQ community and with family who are as well, I am thrilled to be part of a group that supports equality, diversity, and inclusion.

    Equality is good living. Good loving. And yes, good business. It means treating others like the amazing, mysterious, priceless being that they are. Always and all ways.

    Want to learn more about creating a drama free workplace? Free discovery sessions are available on my website. If nothing else, we should create a conflict price tag so you know exactly what it's costing your company. And if you're game, we can talk about what it is costing you personally.


     






  • Documenting queer lives: Dylan M. Austin Photography

    by Dylan M. Austin
    | Aug 02, 2018

    This week, we are featuring a new member—photographer Dylan M. Austin. Join us in welcoming Dylan.


    2018MEMBERSPOTLIGHT_DylanMAustin1_200x250I was always the kid that picked up family members' disposable film cameras to use up all the remaining shots. In high school I kept that enthusiasm through film classes, learning dark room developing processes, and manually rolling my own film.

    Once I picked up a DSLR for the first time, friends and family started asking what my rates would be for things like senior portraits (a question I had no idea how to answer at first!) and it all just happened from there. I did portraiture part-time until I finally decided I wanted to make it my career, and here we are!

    Aside from what pays the bills, I spend a significant amount of time photographing what I want to see better represented in media.

    I photograph drag queens, top surgery scars, sex-positive and nude imagery, queer musicians and performers. It's important to me to use my platform and skills to document the queer experience and use those photos to spread messages and promote other artists.


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    To me, equality is good business means that businesses, big and small, have a voice to be heard and an opportunity to represent values in the communities they do business in. Members of GSBA have a special platform to demonstrate how equality is a critical factor in business and setting a standard for the ethics and humanity that we so need in our businesses.


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    I have known about GSBA for some time and think organizations like this are critical to the community and necessary to bolster each other's ventures and success. My accountant, my fellow photographers, and more always told me about the organization, so I knew I needed to join!

    I'm all over Seattle, so please say hi! The best place to get in contact with me and see what I am up to is my website, www.dylanmaustin.com!

    I am thrilled to meet new people—it is one of the greatest parts of what I do. Let's work together—be it headshots or something super creative!





  • Save money and beat traffic with GSBA member Commute Seattle

    by Nick Abel
    | Jul 26, 2018

    This week, we are featuring a new nonprofit member—Commute Seattle. Join us in welcoming this new member!


    Seattle’s traffic challenges are well-known, but GSBA members might not be aware of a great resource to help navigate the city’s busy highways and streets: Commute Seattle.

    Commute Seattle is a nonprofit transportation management agency founded to address traffic and congestion by working directly with businesses to improve employee travel to and from work.


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    They believe equality is a foundational value, drawing on the experience of a unique and multi-talented staff to connect with Seattle’s diverse business community. Their dedication to transportation equity and creating a city that welcomes everyone led them to join GSBA in 2018.

    The second highest living expense in Seattle after housing is transportation. For low-income or marginalized employees and small business owners, the impact of increased commute costs is especially pronounced. Through a mix of free consultations, technical assistance and pilot programs, Commute Seattle is working to reduce barriers to affordable and accessible transit.

    Commute Seattle’s services leverage city-, county- and state-funded commuter benefit programs, educate managers on the advantages of telework or flexible hours for employees, and even offer advice on creating bike-friendly offices.

    Want to provide employees with an unlimited annual ORCA card at the most cost-effective rate on the market? Reach out to Commute Seattle to learn more about the ORCA passport program. Or perhaps you want to save employees hundreds of dollars on commuting expenses without affecting your bottom line. Commute Seattle’s pre-tax program can help your business save as much as 8 percent on payroll taxes.

    No company is exactly the same and employee habits and business resources vary widely. Luckily, Commute Seattle’s robust small business team is experienced working with businesses of all sizes to address their unique commuting challenges. 

    Whatever your organization’s current transportation profile, Commute Seattle can give you the tools to lower employee travel stress, reduce parking costs, cut congestion and leverage the great public and alternative transportation options available in Seattle.

    To contact Commute Seattle, call 206-613-3131 or email orca@commuteseattle.com


    More about Commute Seattle

    Founded in 2004, Commute Seattle is supported by the Downtown Transportation Alliance (DTA), comprised of the executive leadership of the Downtown Seattle Association, King County Metro, Seattle Department of Transportation, Sound Transit as well as rotating private-sector representation.

    In 2017, Commute Seattle achieved a 10-year goal of increasing transit, rideshare, walking and biking to 70 percent of all trips downtown. They continue to improve commutes to and through Seattle through a combination of consultations, technical assistance, and pilot programs.

    For more information, visit commuteseattle.com





  • GSBA welcomes twelve global LGBTQ activists and leaders: Bulgaria, Papua New Guinea, Chile + more

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
    | Jul 20, 2018

    This week GSBA was honored to receive a delegation of twelve LGBTQ activists and nonprofit leaders from around the world.

    Our visitors were in town as part of the International Visitor Program of the World Affairs Council and the U.S. State Department. The State Department’s Resilient Societies program on strengthening minority gender communities has been organized around several objectives:

    • Examine U.S. and international initiatives to promote and protect the human rights of the LGBTI community
    • Explore equal access to educational, economic, and healthcare opportunities for citizens with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations
    • Analyze the legislative framework and political perspectives on current and pending efforts to ensure equal human and civil rights in the U.S.
    • Observe how organizations monitor, influence and advocate for human and civil rights policy at the local, state, national and international levels

    This extraordinary group spent the morning introducing themselves and talking about the work that they do in their respective communities. They were interested in how GSBA across its 37-year history has supported the LGBTQ community economically and how support from the allied business community was built over the years. GSBA shared our origins and the story of how the organization has become the largest LGBTQ chamber in North America, how we have built alliances between disadvantaged communities, organized a successful political agenda, and ideas of how to fundraise for a community that cannot always be out.


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    Our guests explained how they do their work in their countries, some of which have stronger protections than the United States and others which face additional challenges. The question was raised about how to get local business people to come out and publicly support the LGBTQ community in a society where that could be detrimental. The role of multinational corporations – who may have good internal policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity – can also be important in extending rights and protections to our community in areas where local laws are still lacking.

    GSBA was pleased to hear that some of our previous efforts with Microsoft, IBM, and the GLAS Foundation in Bulgaria had been successful and still have a positive ripple effect.

    We are thankful to have organizations like the World Affairs Council that help bring our colleagues from around the world to Washington State so that we can share our stories and expertise with one another. We are certainly looking forward to building lasting connections with these leaders, and hope to be able to visit some of them in their home countries in the future.

    We are also thankful to learn that ‘iskis’ means queer in Breton!

    Organizations represented included:





  • This coworking space is ensuring entrepreneurs from marginalized communities have access to vital infrastructure

    by Robbi Anthony
    | Jul 13, 2018

    This week, we are featuring a new member—Praxis Coworking. GSBA member span the entirety of Washington State, and this new member is located in Spokane! Join us in welcoming this values-driven organization.


    My name is Robbi Anthony and I am the founder of Praxis Coworking based in Spokane, Washington.

    We’ve recently announced a program called Second Wind. Second Wind is the philanthropic arm of Praxis Coworking that aims to give entrepreneurs from marginalized communities and groups an opportunity to get their second wind in entrepreneurship and life.

    We will be giving people access to this coworking space to give them the digital and physical infrastructure they need to start, grow, and sustain a business of their own without the financial burden that is associated with a space like this.


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    We are looking for the support from other established businesses to help make this program financially sustainable.

    Our goal is to recruit an initial 300 businesses who can contribute $10 a month. This will provide 12 up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a space of their own to work on their projects. Donors will have input on who is awarded the scholarship, invitations to events at the space, and access to a podcast that details the incredible stories of these entrepreneurs.


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    We know that when everyone is at the table, that is when the best work, collaboration, and projects take place.

    We decided to become a GBSA member because the values of the GSBA aligns with the heart and soul of our organization's mission, and we want to connect with other members of the organization.


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    If you’re interested in learning more about Praxis Coworking’s Second Wind program, you can visit our website. If you are in Spokane feel free to visit our space and attend upcoming events that are typically promoted on our Facebook page.

    $10 a month can change someone's life by giving them the means to pursue entrepreneurship in an environment free of discrimination or judgment. This is a very tangible opportunity to give those a leg-up who need it the most. We need the support of this community and we are so grateful for the financial support and helping to spread the word!




     
  • GSBA Ambassador Spotlight: Kevin Bohnert

    by Kevin Bohnert
    | Jul 03, 2018

    I joined the GSBA in April of 2002 and quickly volunteered to be on the Membership Committee.

    As a member of the Membership Committee, I volunteered to be an Ambassador for the GSBA by arriving to events early, greeting everyone as they arrived with a smile, and helping everybody check in.

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    Meridian Mayer, GSBA Sr. Membership Services Manager (left)
    and Kevin Bohnert, GSBA Ambassador (right).


    For new members, long-time members, and everyone in-between, it always feels good to be recognized and welcomed. It is always fun and a pleasure to introduce new members to everyone during the event.

    I have found the GSBA members to be professionals and among the best of the best in their field of work, and I have felt very welcomed.  In my second year on the Membership Committee, I became the co-chair of the after-hours mixer program and served on the Board of the GSBA for 8 years. Being a co-chair and on the board allowed me to greet, connect with, and get to know even more of our membership on both a personal and professional level.

    To me, GSBA is really about the positive, healthy, long-term relationships and bonds that I have nurtured. I truly enjoy being a member of our vibrant LGBTQ and allied community.

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     Kevin Bohnert and his and husband Shaun Myrick.

    On a personal note, I live with my husband Shaun Myrick in the northeast side of Seattle by Magnuson Park. Shaun is an interior designer as well as a lifestyle blogger where he shares his creative recipes. We love taking road trips, tasting new wines, dinners with friends, and quiet evenings at home with our two dogs, Elphaba and Napa Cab.




  • Member Spotlight: Q Card Project

    | Jun 19, 2018

    As a result of cultural homophobia and stigma, many LGBTQ youth struggle with bullying, violence, discrimination, and health disparities. Despite this, LGBTQ youth in our communities show us every day that they are smart and creative and resilient and powerful.

    Q Card Project exists to give LGBTQ youth the tools and language they need to advocate for themselves in healthcare settings so they can live healthy lives.

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    The Q Card is a simple and easy-to-use communication tool that lets youth fill in their name, pronouns, sexual orientation, gender identity, and any questions they want to ask a clinician. It also includes tips for clinicians on providing sensitive care to LGBTQ youth.

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    Since the first printing in March 2014, we have shipped over 150,000 Q Cards to 35 states and four countries. In addition to youth themselves, who offer overwhelmingly positive feedback, adults love Q Cards too! Nurses, therapists, physicians, teachers, librarians, social workers, parents, and non-profit staff love that Q Cards are an easy way to signal that LGBTQ youth are welcome in their spaces.

    Joining GSBA has been hugely beneficial to me. As an “accidental entrepreneur” with a background in community-based public health practice, I had a lot to learn about how to run a business.

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    In joining GSBA, I was welcomed into an incredible community of business leaders who care deeply about supporting and mentoring young business owners. Through the Financial Literacy Series, I have gained new skills for running my business, and at monthly Seattle Entrepreneurial Women breakfasts, I’m able to connect and learn from incredible women who share their expertise and insights to help me navigate entrepreneurship.

    I have learned so much since joining, and look forward to staying involved as my business grows.

    —Genya Shimkin, Q Card Project






  • LGBTQ Businesses to Celebrate this June: PSBJ's Outstanding Voices & The List

    | Jun 08, 2018

    Each year during Pride, GSBA partners with the Puget Sound Business Journal to deliver the Business of Pride: an awards event recognizing honoring LGBTQ business leaders, advocates and allies for their support of diversity, equality and inclusion within the business community.

    Fourteen LGBTQ business leaders receive the Outstanding Voices honor—and this year, ten of the fourteen are GSBA member businesses and individuals. We couldn’t be prouder to stand with our LGBTQ and allied business community in recognizing these leaders. See GSBA members recognized for their Outstanding Voices in the list below.

    We also wait with anticipation each year for PSBJ’s announcement of the Puget Sound Region’s Largest LGBTQ-Owned Companies at Business of Pride—also known as ‘The List.’ The List ranks Puget Sound region-based companies with at least 51% LGBTQ ownership based on 2017 revenue.

    We’re thrilled to see 22 of the 25 businesses on The List are GSBA members! Congratulations, in order of revenue, to:

    1 –  Precision Garage Door, GSBA member and Gold Sponsor.

    2 –  Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, GSBA member.

    3 –  Olympic Hot Tub, GSBA member.

    4 –  Herban Feast, GSBA member.

    5 – Bulk FR8 LLC, GSBA member.

    6 –  Marination, GSBA member.

    7 –  Nyhus Communications, GSBA member.

    8 –  Seattle Storm, GSBA member.

    10 – TomboyX, GSBA member.

    11 – Cupcake Royale, GSBA member.

    13 – Metropolis, GSBA member.

    14 – Urban Animal, GSBA member.


    15 – Soaring Heart Natural Bed Co., GSBA member.

    16 – Board & Vellum, GSBA member.

    17 – Cone & Steiner General, GSBA member.

    18 – Terra Plata, GSBA member.

    19 – Choke Shirt Co. & Choke Print Shop, GSBA member.

    20 – Poppy, GSBA member.

    21 – Bang, GSBA member.

    23 – True North Land Surveying Inc., GSBA member.

    24 – A la Mode Pies, GSBA member.

    25 – Broadcast Coffee Roasters, GSBA member and GSBA coffee sponsor.

     


    Please welcome GSBA in extending a special congratulations to the 2018 Outstanding Voices, and the following GSBA members recognized for their contributions to our community!

    • Michael Bailey, Bank of America, GSBA member and Gold Sponsor: Small business banker Micheal Bailey helps provide LGBTQ-owned businesses with banking and lending solutions.
    • Sam Whiting, Boeing, GSBA member and Gold Sponsor: Sam Whiting oversees Boeing’s national strategy for education, grants and community partnerships.
    • Patrick Evans, Sound, GSBA member and Ruby Sponsor: Since his arrival at Sound in 2016, Patrick Evans has had a profound impact on the behavioral health organization.
    • Wakefield, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, GSBA member: Wakefield established The Legacy Project to increase racial and ethnic involvement in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center HIV vaccine trials.
    • Paul Lanbros, Plymouth Housing Group, GSBA member: Lambros, whose organization works to find homes for people experiencing homelessness, says businesses and nonprofits should be living and breathing equality and inclusion.
    • Nicki McCraw, UW Medicine, GSBA member and Emerald Sponsor: Nicki McCraw dedicates her time to ensuring the LGBTQ community has their needs met at UW Medicine and that the UW workforce has the training necessary to meet those needs.
    • David Johnson, Navos, GSBA member: Navos CEO David Johnson has been a leader in the mental health community and served on task forces and boards, innovating pathways for wellness and equity, including for the LGBTQ community.
    • Susan Mullaney, Kaiser Permanente Washington, GSBA member and Sapphire Sponsor: Susan Mullaney is passionate about making sure members of the LGBTQ community have access to the care they need to be as healthy as possible.
    • Luis Fernando Ramírez Limón, Entre Hermanos, GSBA member and community partner: Luis Fernando Ramírez Limón is executive director of Entre Hermanos, whose mission is to promote the health and well-being of the Latino Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and questioning community in a culturally appropriate environment through disease prevention, education, support services, advocacy and community building.
    • James Hing, GSBA board member; Starbucks, GSBA member and Silver sponsor: James Hing oversees the supplier diversity program at Starbucks, but outside of the office, he is the music and choir director for the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Renton and the award-winning Starbucks Chorus.

     


     

  • Member Spotlight: The Domaine Madeleine

    | Jun 07, 2018

    From its founding in 1991, Domaine Madeleine has been unique on the Olympic Peninsula.

    The Domaine Madeleine was the first European-style luxury bed and breakfast in the region, originally with a French formal approach to hospitality.

    Over the years, the inn has changed with the times—and with new owners. In 1998, Jamie Weinhold-Collier and Jeri Weinhold purchased the inn from Madeleine, making it the first inn owned by a woman and her transgender partner.

    In 2014, Stephen Fofanoff and Christopher Warnock, a married gay couple, took over full time management of the inn through their company, Art and Soul Enterprises, Inc. As far as we know, Domaine Madeleine is the first inn in Washington State to be owned by a woman and her transgender partner, while also being managed by a gay male couple. In that regard, we hit almost every letter in our LGBTQ community in one business.

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    As modern travel has changed, so has the inn. Shifting in focus and style from a French country inn to a contemporary luxury inn inspired by nature, the inn has also made a shift from "upscale" to "luxury", with complete renovations of the property to provide a casual luxurious feel complete with all of the amenities (and more) that a modern traveler would want.

    Additionally, the inn is in the middle of a 5-year sustainability process to move "off grid" and become more self-sufficient without sacrificing all the good stuff: like complimentary super-fast WiFi and Chromecast in every room, bluetooth speakers, luxurious cruelty-free bath products, all-natural long staple cotton towels and extraordinarily comfortable beds.

    Private gardens set among old growth trees and intimate spaces are perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway easily accessible from Seattle but that feels like its oceans away.

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    We especially love catering to members of our LGBTQ community, offering private elopements and a welcoming spirit for those who seek romance, adventure, and indulgence close to Olympic National Park with some of the most outstanding hikes, outdoor adventure, and winter sports in Washington State.

    GSBA members receive our lowest discount rates when staying from September 16, 2018 through May 16, 2019. Simply book online at https://domainemadeleine.com using the special rate code GSBADISC. Subject to availability (first-come, first-served so book early for best selection), but no minimum stays or blackout dates during that period.




  • LGBTQ Travel and Tourism: Three Ways the Industry Can Create a More Equal World for All

    | Jun 05, 2018
    The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association—the world’s leading network of LGBTQ-welcoming tourism businesses—holds an annual global convention to bring together business leaders in the LGBTQ travel and tourism industries every May.

    This year IGLTA2018, Meridian Mayer, Sr. Membership Services Manager, was  able to connect with so many GSBA member businesses who are doing good work in this arena here in Seattle, including Matt Skallerud, President,  Pink Banana Media; Selisse Berry, CEO of Out & Equal; Robert Geller, owner of Outings & Adventures; Clovis Casemiro, Coordinator of LGBTQ Tourism in Brazil for IGLTA ; and Alan Beck, Publisher of Fun Travel Guides.

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    Selisse Berry - CEO of Out & Equal

    Fabrice Houdart
    , Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was another key connection—one we’ll be hosting here in Seattle on June 13 for GSBA’s Pride Business Luncheon. Fabrice stands up for equal rights and fair treatment for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and intersex people everywhere through the United Nations Free & Equal campaign.

    Thought leaders from the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the United Nations, Marriot International, Eagle Canada Human Rights Trust, and Airbnb left us with three learnings from the IGLTA conference:

    1. Travel and tourism have enormous global economic impact. 

    Although it’s clear and obvious that the travel and tourism industries have extensive global impact on economies and individuals, Fabrice Houdart shared the facts and figures of this reach:

    The travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with a global economic contribution of over 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars. Tourism provides 10% of the world's GDP, 7% of global trade and as many as one in every 11 jobs globally.”

    Because of this global economic impact and thus global power, the hospitality and tourism industries have a critical role to play in promoting equal rights for LGBTQ people. We occupy a unique position to increase safety and inbound LGBTQ tourism across the globe, ultimately boosting economic development for all.

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    Clovis Casemiro, Coordinator of LGBTQ Tourism in Brazil for IGLTA

    2. Travel and tourism companies that include values of fairness, equality, and inclusion in their business model help create safer spaces for LGBTQ tourists.

    Apoorva Gandhi, VP of Multicultural Affairs at Marriot International Inc. shared that Marriot’s corporate values prioritize fairness, inclusion, and equality in all of their business. These values are fundamental to their culture—and instilling these values wherever they operate help to create safe spaces for LGBTQ travelers and tourists around the globe.

    It’s clear that when businesses integrate values of equity and inclusion into their business models, we’re able to prioritize creating safe spaces for our community locally and globally.

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    (left) Robert Geller, Owner of Outings & Adventures; (right) Matt Skallerud, President, Pink Banana Media.

    3. Travel and tourism corporations have the power to make lasting political change.

    Corporations have the opportunity to create intentionally inclusive spaces wherever they operate—and this is a vital step in creating lasting, global change, an idea highlighted by Helen Kennedy, Executive Director at Eagle Canada Human Rights Trust. 

    Corporations have the power to make changes on a political level to create lasting changes. Part of this work involves asking the people ‘on the ground’ who live and work in the places where you do business. 

    Ultimately, in order to create an authentic, safe, and strategic plan toward inclusivity—versus one that could be seriously destructive—we must listen to communities where we do business.

    We’re looking forward to being more deeply connected in the incredible travel and tourism work that’s helping to elevate the safe LGBTQ and allied spaces Seattle has worked tirelessly to create. 

    Questions, comments, or want to have a conversation about how we can translate these learnings to your business? Join us at the June 13 Pride Business Luncheon to hear more from Fabrice Houdart and other leaders in LGBTQ global human rights. 




     
  • Embracing diversity, embracing whole people: GSBA taking the WIN Pledge

    by Eric Moss
    | May 30, 2018

    When you think about the term diversity as it relates to your business, you probably think about your staff, your suppliers, and then your customers, in that order.

    When asked to explain diversity, like so many of us, you probably begin go down a list: race, gender, sex, ethnicity, language, age, LGBTQ, and so on. You’re right that these are all important characteristics that make up a diverse workforce, but it is important to keep up to speed on how this list is evolving and becoming more inclusive. For example, just a few short years ago, classifying LGBTQ as a diverse characteristic was taboo, and “something we don’t talk about in the workplace”. These categories are ever growing as we analyze and destigmatize individual characteristics that intersect with every part of who we are as business owners, employers, consumers, community members, and very much a part of who we are in our family and social circles. So why is it then, that when we talk about disabilities and mental illness we often do not look at them through the same diversity lens that we use for the other categories in the list?

    GSBA is in the process of reviewing our very own diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, and as part of that work, we too are looking at ways that we can broaden our definitions, improve our policies, and help lead our members to do the same. That is why GSBA has taken the Welcome Inclusion (WIN) Business Pledge, is supporting Special Olympics Washington and the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle this July, and is supporting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Washington during National Mental Health Month in May. We know that diversity takes many forms, and we know that even in the LGBTQ and allied community, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as those experiencing mental illness are often stigmatized, underserved, and in the employment sector often times undervalued. GSBA believes that embracing diversity means embracing the whole person, and all of the differences brought to the table.

    WIN BUSINESS PLEDGE

    The timing is perfect to sign the WIN Business Pledge. Businesses who sign the pledge are marking themselves as a business that is accessible to clients and families with disabilities, and will be placed on a map for families to search for welcoming organizations. This means that WIN is able to promote welcoming businesses to the thousands of travelers coming to Seattle for the US Games in July. The signature pledge drive is in partnership with with the Arc of King County and the Special Olympic USA Games. From the Welcome Inclusion website, “WIN is a public awareness and capacity building campaign that will facilitate rapid, transformative community change to promote a world of inclusion for children and adults with intellectual, behavioral, and social differences”. They focus on three key activities to achieve their mission: awareness, community, and training. WIN is running the pledge campaign year-round, but local businesses are encouraged to take the pledge now to declare their inclusiveness and accessibility before the Special Olympics US Games in Seattle early July.

    5.30.2018 WIN Pledge

    SPECIAL OLYMPICS WASHINGTON and the SPECIAL OLYMPICS USA GAMES

    Special Olympics USA Games will kick off July 1st. The 2018 USA Games will offer 14 sports in the best sports facilities in the greater Seattle region, beginning with an opening ceremony at Husky Stadium which will include the lighting of the torch, Parade of Athletes, a 2,018 voice choir, Ann Wilson of Heart, and so much more. The Games website describes the program as “the Opening Ceremony launches six extraordinary days of competition and special events where the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities will be celebrated at the national level. Thousands of Seattleites and visitors will experience the transformative power of sport, and the positive impact of a more inclusive world for all”. Attending the competitions is free to attend, but if you can’t attend the games, the best way to support the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle 2018, is to buy a ticket and attend the opening ceremony. Tickets start at just $20, and the ceremony is sure to be like nothing you have seen in Washington before.

    NATIONAL ALLIANCE on MENTAL ILLNESS (NAMI) WASHINGTON

    Nearly one in every five adults in the United States experience some form of diagnosable mental illness every year. That statistic is staggering when you think that in Washington, there are 1.3+ million people employed by small businesses, meaning more than 260,000 of our employees, coworkers, vendors, suppliers, clients, or friends and family across the state are experiencing some form of diagnosable mental illness, at any given time. The statistics get worse when you take into account other factors such as, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, occurrences are higher in women, highest between the ages of 18-49, highest for people of two or more races. And higher still for owners of small business. And there is no shortage of research that shows how these numbers swell in the LGBTQ community at large. With the reality that 20% of our friends and neighbors are experiencing a diagnosable mental illness, GSBA supports the work of NAMI Washington, and the resources NAMI Washington offers to the LGBTQ community. NAMI has an upcoming event, the NAMIWalks in Kirkland on June 2nd to raise awareness and donations to increase access to services.

    Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just key words and tricky phrases we use to promote our work at GSBA. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is the work to be done to improve our role as your LGBTQ chamber of commerce. We invite you to join GSBA in broadening your definition of diversity to include disabilities, mental health, and so much more. By being inclusive of these communities, you are helping remove the sigma, as well as honoring your staff, suppliers, customers, and community for the whole person that they are.






  • Why we oppose the City of Seattle's head tax

    | May 25, 2018
    Dear GSBA members and friends,
     
    GSBA is vehemently opposed to the City of Seattle imposing a head tax on employees. Taxing a business for hiring employees is a job killing and poorly thought out way to raise revenue. Jobs are good for the economy, and Seattle has been the benefactor of incredible job growth in our region. Certainly, the rapid pace of growth has caused challenges in our infrastructure, housing, and yes, a strain on our City budget. But a head tax is not the answer.

    As a progressive business chamber, we are fully committed to being a partner in addressing the crisis of homelessness in our community. We also are aware that some of the solution may include a need for new revenue. We are not an anti-tax organization. We see economic development, more jobs - not fewer - as part of the solution.

    Make no mistake, if taxes on hiring and jobs continue to rise, businesses will hire fewer people, and there will be fewer jobs. 

    WHAT HAVE WE DONE
    Long before the Head Tax went to vote, GSBA vocally opposed the proposal. Staff, volunteers, and members have spent countless hours working on this issue including writing letters to City Council; signing on to letters from others; testifying before committees; discussing the issue as part of GSBA's Public Policy Task Force, Public Policy Council, Small Business Council, and Corporate Advisory Board; as well as co-authoring an Op-Ed in the Seattle Times

    We believe GSBA's leadership played a key role in raising the threshold from eight million to 20 million and the amount per employee lowered from $500 per head to $275 per head and the inclusion for a sunset provision which will take place in five years. It was largely GSBA members who spoke out at City Council hearings and made their business voices heard.

    WHY WE OPPOSE THE HEAD TAX
    GSBA feels strongly that before our City asks for more money, we need a clear analysis of the scope of the homelessness problem and exactly what will be needed to address the issue. 

    We also need a full analysis of what we currently collect in taxes, from whom, what goes towards homelessness, and what exactly is the gap in revenue needed to get this job done in a timely manner. The City currently spends and incredible amount of money on homelessness with poorly laid plans, little transparency, and even less accountability for meaningful outcomes. 

    No other city in this country is so regressive to have both a B&O tax AND a tax on employment, both on gross income. Seattle small businesses already make up 60% of the City revenue, while only a fraction of that is devoted to supporting diverse and robust economic development. We understand that homelessness is at crisis level, and we know that there is a lot that needs to be done to solve this issue. But we also know that the solution cannot be carried on the backs of Seattle businesses alone, and certainly not without thorough analysis and a transparent regional plan.

    HOMELESSNESS IS A REGIONAL ISSUE
    The homelessness crisis does not begin and end at Seattle's borders. Our Mayor understands this, which is why regional leaders have convened One Table to bring together leadership from Seattle, King County, and surrounding cities to develop a collective, regional approach to bringing affordable and accessible housing to more of our citizens. Without a regional solution, a clear plan, and accountable reporting on milestones, we simply cannot continue to throw money at a growing problem that isn't making a dent in this horrendous epidemic. 

    One point is clear - the City cannot and should not tackle this problem alone. An additional $50 million tax on jobs does little to help fund homelessness services and solutions compared to the billion already spent annually. In fact, the head tax may not be bold enough, although it does enough damage to business that it could actually be exacerbating the problem by encouraging business to go elsewhere. If the City is serious about combating the conditions of homelessness and finding real and lasting solutions, they will work with regional leaders, improve communication with and between service providers, build relationships with Seattle employers, and present a transparent plan for any additional dollars raised.

    WHAT TO DO NEXT
    As you may know, there is a movement to gather signatures to place a referendum on the ballot to repeal the Head Tax. Several of our members have begun gathering the 30,000 (17,00 qualified) signatures needed, and GSBA fully supports their efforts and encourages you to sign on. 

    We have also learned that some supporters of this tax have called for a boycott of small businesses who have spoken out against the head tax. Threatening the livelihood of small businesses simply because they are exercising their right to speak out is a strong-armed tactic that we hope will receive no support. GSBA strongly believes in civic engagement and applauds our members and all members of our community to stand up and speak out for what you believe in. The divisiveness and polarity in this city will not have a good outcome and leads to poorly thought out decisions such as the passage of an employee head tax.

    We encourage you to contact us with your thoughts and ideas, continue to attend City Council meetings, add your signature to the referendum to repeal, and to contact your local and regional governments to express your concerns. Homelessness, economic development, and business representation are important conversations, and there is more than enough room at the table for everyone to contribute to the solution. 

    For Equality,

    Louise Chernin
    President & CEO