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California Governor Jerry Brown Extends Minority Provisions To LGBT Business Owners

BrownCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a historic bill that will result in new opportunities for certified businesses owned by LGBT people, reports

Brown is known for his pro-LGBT advocacy. Last week, he outlawed the "gay panic" defense in court. In August, he signed a bill that will provide unprecedented protections for transgender students in California.

The new law means that starting in 2015, public utilities in the state will be required to extend to LGBT certified business owners existing provisions already granted to those owned by ethnic minorities, women, and disabled veterans.

The law - which came about through testimony and advocacy by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) - is believed to be the first bill of its kind in the United States. It defines an “LGBT business enterprise” as one that is at least 51% owned by an LGBT person or persons, or, in the case of any publicly owned company, at least 51% of the stock is to be owned by a LGBT individual or individuals.

Justin Nelson, NGLCC co-founder and president of NGLCC, said:

"Gov. Brown has further added to his impressive record on economic development and LGBT issues with his signing of this bill into law. We are very proud of the hard work of our team, all seven of our California Local Affiliate Chambers, our certified LGBT business owners, the California Small Business Association and other allied organizations that made this law not only our priority, but also their priority. We also are grateful for the wide support of this law from diverse business communities and the unwavering and consistent support from AT&T and Southern California Edison.”

NGLCC co-founder and CEO Chance Mitchell added:

“The LGBT business community owes a huge debt of gratitude to [lead sponsors] Assemblyman Gordon and Sen. Leno for their hard work in passing this bill that will have real impact on the lives of LGBT California business owners and the many Californians employed by them.”

VentureOut Fund Seeks To Invest in LGBT-led Startups

VentureOut-Logo-with-text-300x200Launch Angels, a Boston area venture capital firm, is looking to breathe life into fledgling startups helmed by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender founders with its VentureOut Fund. Much of the innovation that comes out of Silicon Valley is a direct result of angel investing, VC funding, and mentorship within startup incubators. Currently in the process of raising $2 Million from some 15-20 investors, VentureOut hopes to connect with 15-20 startups currently in their seed stage.

Affinity funding, the idea of investors partnering together around a central idea or purpose, has been Launch Angels CEO Shereen Shermak’s primary focus in guiding the firm. Currently Launch Angels has focused primarily on mobile and consumer companies, but it’s looking to diversify its portfolio.


“So many more folks are out of the closet in the business world than were even five years ago,” Said Greg Wiles, the managing director of the VentureOut Fund. According to Wiles, funds like VentureOut would have languished in the recent past, considering that the world of venture capitalist is composed of primarily straight, white men.

VentureOut, says Wiles, wants to set its fund apart by reaching out to those founders who might have an amazing idea, but perhaps not as much experience with the startup world. Moreover, the fund sees the potential in tapping into the closely-knit, grassroots-y social networks that are often the driving force behind social causes spearheaded by LGBT organizations.

Comcast Customer Service Guy From Hell Or Employee Of The Year? - AUDIO

After nine years of being a Comcast customer in multiple addresses, Ryan Block (not pictured above) and his wife decided to disconnect their internet service. Little did Mr. Block expect to encounter the most persistent customer service rep in all of Comcast.

ComcastPlease note: this conversation starts about 10 minutes in — by this point my wife and I are both completely flustered by the oppressiveness of the rep.

So! Last week my wife called to disconnect our service with Comcast after we switched to another provider (Astound). We were transferred to cancellations (aka "customer retention").

The representative (name redacted) continued aggressively repeating his questions, despite the answers given, to the point where my wife became so visibly upset she handed me the phone. Overhearing the conversation, I knew this would not be very fun.

What I did not know is how oppressive this conversation would be. Within just a few minutes the representative had gotten so condescending and unhelpful I felt compelled to record the speakerphone conversation on my other phone.

This recording picks up roughly 10 minutes into the call, whereby she and I have already played along and given a myriad of reasons and explanations as to why we are canceling (which is why I simply stopped answering the rep's repeated question -- it was clear the only sufficient answer was "Okay, please don't disconnect our service after all.").

Please forgive the echoing and ratcheting sound, I was screwing together some speaker wires in an empty living room!

The rep repeatedly asks Block why he's choosing to disconnect — a question Block evades for while. Block posted the remaining conversation on SoundCloud, asking the rep at one point, "Is this a joke?... Are you Punking us right now?"

While many commenters side with Box's frustrations —  even Comcast has said "[this is] unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives" and has promised to investigate the call and personally apologize to Block — the rep is doing exactly what he's paid to do. His job is to keep customers, not to let them go without a fight.

So somebody give this guy a raise!

Listen to the recording AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Comcast Customer Service Guy From Hell Or Employee Of The Year? - AUDIO" »

Big Gay Ice Cream Chief Doug Quint Gives the Scoop to CNN Money: VIDEO


Doug Quint, who founded the ever-expanding Big Gay Ice Cream empire, spoke with CNN Money about the rise of his business.

"We made a decision to not be hyper-political about our name and to let it do its own thing for us and we didn't want to tell people too much. We preferred that people make assumptions and in doing so it really created an army of people who were believers in the brand.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Big Gay Ice Cream Chief Doug Quint Gives the Scoop to CNN Money: VIDEO" »

HSBC Banker Antonio Simoes Heads UK LGBT Business Power List


OUTstanding in Business, a professional network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) executives whose goal is to fight workplace homophobia and promote greater boardroom diversity, has put HSBC banking chief Antonio Simoes at the top of its power list, the Evening Standard reports:

The publication of the list comes a week after the appointment of Christopher Bailey to the top job at fashion group Burberry, which will make him the first “out” chief executive of a FTSE-100 company when he succeeds Angela Ahrendts next Spring.

Mr Simoes said: “I’m honoured to be in the company of such high-quality business talent. I hope the list will help other LGBT executives feel more confident about their sexuality.”

Second on the list is Beth Brooke, global vice-chair of public policy at consultants EY. Paul Reed, chief executive of BP Integrated Supply and Trading is third.

Claudia Brind-Woody, London based vice-president of global intellectual property licensing at IBM, who is sixth on the list, said employers in Europe and the US had made huge strides in encouraging diversity in recent years.

See the full list HERE.

Writes the group: "The criteria used for our list was more than just being LGBT. We wanted to highlight those executives who are not only LGBT, but who are willing to act as champions of diversity in their companies and in business. Even more than that, the people on The List are highly successful executives in their own right. They truly show that being open about your sexuality is not a barrier to rising to the very top in business."

Credit Suisse Launches First-Ever LGBT Equality Index, Portfolio


Credit Suisse yesterday launched an LGBT Equality Index,  the first index to track the equity performance of companies with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) friendly policies, as well as an LGBT Equality Portfolio available to its banking clients.

SuisseThe WSJ reports, via press release:

The Credit Suisse LGBT Equality Index(TM) is a capitalization-weighted equity index that measures the performance of US companies recognized for supporting and promoting equality for members of the LGBT community. Index inclusion requires a score of 80 or above on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index (CEI.) The HRC Corporate Equality Index is the national benchmark for corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees. The initial concept for the index is the result of conversations between Credit Suisse and LGBT Capital, a thought leader in the field of LGBT-related socially responsible investment activity.

Credit Suisse is also launching today an associated investable portfolio, the Credit Suisse LGBT Equality Portfolio, Powered by HOLT(R). HOLT is a Credit Suisse proprietary valuation framework with a disciplined cash flow approach to company analysis and stock selection. This new Portfolio is available exclusively to Credit Suisse Private Banking USA clients. It is currently the only investable instrument associated with the index and contains blue chip companies with progressive LGBT policy and strong capital appreciation potential.

Ashley Kindergan at the Financialist explains how was it designed:

“We believe that companies that engage in and have good top-level policies regarding LGBT employees should see a positive bottom-line economic impact as a result,” said Eric Berger, a Relationship Manager for Credit Suisse’s Private Banking USA business and a member of the firm’s LGBT Network, which played a critical role in the product’s development over the course of the last two years...

To design the product, Nicole Douillet, a trader at Credit Suisse who is also the co-chair of the LGBT Network, first put together a market capitalization-weighted index of LGBT-friendly companies based on the HRC’s corporate ranking. In its current iteration, the non-tradable Credit Suisse LGBT Equality Index consists of about 200 companies with a score of 80 or above on the HRC’s Corporate Equality scorecard. All but a few are in the S&P 500.

The next step was to create an investable, optimized instrument. To that end, Credit Suisse’s HOLT team—which evaluates individual companies for clients ranging from hedge funds to wealth managers—selected from a list of LGBT-friendly companies with a score of 80 or above the stocks that they believe are good investment ideas based on more traditional measures.

More at The Financialist....


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