LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs and Organizations That You Should Follow
It’s Pride Month! There is so much talent in the LGBTQ+ community, and Bay Street Bull is so excited to share it. During the month of June, we will be actively amplifying LGBTQ+ voices and community leaders.
We’ve rounded up some of the best LGBTQ+ community members and businesses who are making strides in their field and supporting diversity and inclusion while doing so. If you are looking for great people to follow and great organizations to support here are a notable few.
Darrell Schuurman; Co-Founder and CEO, Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Darrell Schuurman is an advocate for social change through the economic empowerment of LGBT+ entrepreneurs. In 2003, Schuurman co-founded the CGLCC and is committed to linking LGBT+ businesses in Canada to the wider business community; he is the current CEO of CGLCC. He is also passionate about tourism in Canada and co-founded Travel Gay Canada, a non-profit that works with tourism organizations to provide increased profitiabilty in the LGBT market.
Dave Wilkin; Founder, Ten Thousand Coffees
Dave Wilkin is a celebrated entrepreneur and founder of Ten Thousand Coffees, a virtual community for internal employee connections and collaboration. With Ten Thousand Coffees, industry giants have a direct link to internal talent, and can help go-getters grow their network and further their careers. Wilkin was a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award and the Governor General’s Award. Bay Street Bull spoke with Wilkin about entrepreneurship, the power of networking and what his daily schedule looks like.
Ben Barry; School of Fashion, Ryerson
Dr. Ben Barry is the Chair and Associate Professor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the School of Fashion at Ryerson University. He has been a champion of inclusion and diversity since the age of 14 when his friend was told she was “too big” to be a model. Dr. Barry has been at the forefront of changing the culture in the fashion industry ever since. He’s an active ‘tweeter’, so you can follow Dr. Barry on Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and new trends.
Kristyn Wong-Tam; City Councillor, Ward 13 - Toronto
Kristyn Wong-Tam has been the city councillor for Ward 13 – Toronto Centre, previously Ward 27, since 2010. Throughout her time, she has done work to expand parks and public spaces, and preserve heritage buildings and historical landscapes in the ward. As an activist for LGBTQ+ and Asian Canadian communities, Wong-Tam helped found Asian Canadians For Equal Marriage. Notably, she successfully advocated for the protection of the Church and Wellesley Village and surrounding areas; in November 2017, four officers were dedicated to patrolling the area. Officers selected to patrol either self-identified as LGBTQ+, or were aware and sensitive to the issues faced by marginalized communities.
Gavin Armstrong; President and CEO, Lucky Iron Fish
Dr. Gavin Armstrong describes himself as a committed impact entrepreneur. His palm-sized solution to iron deficiency, Lucky Iron Fish, took the world by storm, and even appeared on Dragon’s Den. Armstrong was listed as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for social Entrepreneurs in 2016, and he was a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2017.
Mandy Rennehan; CEO, Frescho
Known as the ‘BlueCollar CEO’, Mandy Rennnehan is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and overall badass. At the age of 19, she created Freshco—not the grocery store—a 24/7 on-call retail maintenance provider that’s taken over industry. She aims to redefine what it means to be a trades worker, and change the narrative that blue collar professions are second class and for men. Earlier this Spring, Bay Street Bull spoke with Renneham about her mission to diversify the industry and how blue collar workers are essential during COVID-19.
Al Ramsay; Head of LGBTQ2 Business Development, TD
As TD’s National Manager for LGBTQ2+ business development, Ramsay is dedicated to creating lasting business relationships in the LGBTQ2+ community through support, understanding, and inclusion. Speaking with Ramp Communications, he described landing a job at TD as a turning point in his life, and when he walked into a place as a proud, open, gay man for the first time in his life. In addition to his career, Ramsay is making community change by sitting on many boards, including on the board of the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, ExeQutive, and The Rainbow Railroad.
Pride at Work Canada
Pride at Work Canada helps employers build workplaces that celebrate all employees regardless of gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation. Networking and community events across the country help connect inclusive Canadian employers and breaks down barriers of employment. Pride at Work Canada was founded in 2008, with just 12 employer members, and now has over 140 employer members and dozens of community partners.
As Canada’s first and largest tech and social impact non-profit organization, Venture Out connects LGBTQA2S+ people in tech to career opportunities, mentors and each other. Founded in 2016, Venture Out aims to empower people to take hold of their future and follow their ambitions. They host in-person events where people can network, learn and grow, while working towards an inclusive and diverse future.
Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Established in 2003, CGLCC has grown to become a trusted partner in helping LGBT+ business expand their networks and opportunities. The CGLCC helps LGBT+ business owners grow their companies by hosting opportunities to network with each other, other organizations and government groups looking to do business with a diverse supplier base. The CGLCC focuses on creating a point of access, engagement, visibility and support for LGBT+ business leaders and entrepreneurs. Which in turn is stimulating economic growth by supporting all facets of queer life and business.
This investment group seeks top investment returns through co-investing with venture capitalist firms and supporting businesses with LGBT+ leadership. Gaingels also selectively invests in growth-stage companies to help with adding LGBT+ talent for C-suite positions. This global group made their first Canadian investment last year, when they invested $360,000 in Borrowell, a Toronto-based fin-tech company.
Founded in 2009, StartOut has become a leader in the LGBTQ+ entrepreneurial community by providing the resource entrepreneurs need to succeed. They work to eliminate discrimination from the business world, and strive for equality through promoting the successes of the LGBTQ+ community and researching the economic impacts of LGBTQ+ discrimination. Based in major U.S. cities, StartOut has gone digital during COVID-19 to offer connections and build business skills.