Twenty years is a long time; no one can dispute that. So imagine the elation Quorum members must feel at celebrating 20 years this year. As a leader in the equality movement, Quorum, the Twin Cities GLBTA Chamber of Commerce, champions the case for a fully inclusive business community as a conduit for economic development.
“We believe that including all people is inherently good for business,” says Rebecca Waggoner, Quorum’s interim executive director. “We provide leadership, guidance, and resources to embody our guiding principles of connecting, building, and strengthening our business community at every level. One of our primary objectives continues to be to create a climate of growth and success in our community.”
Through Quorum’s partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), one area of their work includes assisting and developing Certified GLBT-owned enterprises and supporting their entrance into the supply chains of forward-thinking equality-minded companies through fully inclusive Supplier Diversity programs. Through NGLCC, Quorum became part of a much larger movement for GLBT equality in the business space and has a large support system available across the country to advance the GLBT business owner.
“We strive to create visibility and business activity for all of our member businesses and organizations,” Waggoner says. “Quorum supports GLBTA business ownership in the Twin Cities to be more accessible and rewarding, and we successfully work alongside businesses as they welcome, connect, and engage the talent and growth they need to thrive.”
Quorum works with businesses of all sizes and business owners of all experience levels; and through a variety of individualized and group services, the organization helps members identify new opportunities to grow and connects them with peers who are excited to advise and support along the way. Members receive a full range of services including programs and events, monthly networking events, marketing opportunities, and member services, such as referrals and education. Member businesses represent all types of businesses across all industry sectors, including financial services, energy, insurance, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, health care, real estate, and communications.
Twenty years ago, Quorum was the vision of three GLBT community leaders (Scott Mayer, Lee Roehl, and Lois Carlson) who wanted more than just a monthly business meeting. Twenty years ago, Quorum had five members and a dream to create an organization what would serve as a hub for GLBTA business leaders. Today, Quorum is that organization.
Over the past twenty years, Waggoner says they’ve experienced a surprising amount of change. She has seen numbers of Certified Business Enterprises grow from one in 2008 to 20 in 2015 with more GLBT-owned businesses getting certified every month. In 2006, Quorum took over the reins of the National Coming Out Day Luncheon that now hosts over 450 guests every October. In 2007, the organization had its first Community Leadership Awards honoring local business and nonprofit leaders and that tradition continues today. In 2009, Quorum received its first national award (the NGLCC Chamber of the Year) and the organization hasn’t stopped growing. According to Waggoner, Quorum’s membership grew in excess of 20 percent so far in 2015 and is attracting new members monthly.
With all of that in the past, what lies ahead for Quorum’s future? As Sam McClure, past executive director, so eloquently put it, “Let’s talk about what decades mean. That first decade of any organization is creation, development, excitement, and survival. Ten years means that a foundation has been built. Another decade means finding a way to shift from surviving to thriving and to becoming a force that can actually create change. What the next decade brings is limited only by imagination.”
What does the next decade mean? The goal is to increase the impact of an equitable business climate for Quorum’s stakeholders who include local GLBT business owners and employees, corporate partners, nonprofits, and the broader overall movement for GLBT equality.
“Nothing is more powerful for business and our community than people — the perspectives they share, the conversations they spark, and the actions they take,” Waggoner says. “While our members are doing what is best for their customers, co-workers, and community, we’re at their side to help them grow and succeed.”
To celebrate Quorum’s 20th anniversary, be sure to save the date for a gala to be held in December (Quorum’s anniversary is December 8). More information will become available as planning progresses.
Anyone interested in joining Quorum can visit the website at www.twincitiesquorum.com or send any questions to Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org.