Things have been a little quiet this summer at the Halifax LGBT Business Association. The two-year-old organization has weathered the loss of some prominent board members over the last six months. But board secretary Lynn Iding (who's also manager of professional development programs at law firm McInnes Cooper) says not to worry: business is fixing to pick up.
Where does the association currently stand?
It's still in existence, we've just been quiet for the last little while. We've had a few board members move away and retire in the last little while. We decided to take the summer to recruit some more board members and to put a stable of volunteers together with a view to planning some event for the fall.
What have been some of the projects the association has been involved in these past two years?
We've had a number of networking events. One of the main purposes of the association is to provide networking opportunities within the LGBT business community. Some of those have included educational seminars. We had one on business development, one on tax and estate planning for business people.
What are you looking for in new board members?
We're looking for people who either own their own business or are involved in the business community in some way. We're looking for a wide variety of skills. We have someone from the banking industry on the board. I'm in the legal industry. It'd be great to have someone from the marketing field, just to balance out our skill sets.
What initiatives are you planning for the future?
We're hoping to do, similar to what we've done before, networking events combined with educational sessions. We'd also like to institute some benefits members can share. Group insurance discounts, that type of thing.
Does the association take any steps to reach out to more marginalized members of the community?
We have done a little bit of that. One of our events we had last year was about, if you're stating from scratch and want to start your own business, here are the basic steps you'd want to take. That was fairly well received, we had a fairly diverse audience. Definitely it's something that's on our radar.
Is the association doing anything during Pride?
No, not this year. We'll be in the parade, just not as a group, I think.
Corporate branding at Pride is a concern for many. What are your thoughts?
I think our perspective, generally, is it's all about balance. If Pride was just about big businesses who didn't care about LGBT issues, that were just there to market to niche communities, that would take away from it. But the fact is, there are a lot of LGBT businesses and LGBT-friendly businesses out there, and we want to include those in our communities. I think Halifax Pride is really great compared to some of the other urban centres. It has LGBT-friendly businesses marching right along the softball teams and community groups. It's a pretty good balance.