BAY COUNTY, Fla. — In hopes to bring more acceptance and inclusion in the workplace, a statewide organization hosted an event in Bay County on Wednesday afternoon.
‘Equality Florida,’ is an advocacy organization for the LGBTQ community in the state.
They, along with the LGBTQ Center of Bay County, hosted the ‘Equality means Business’ luncheon at Gulf Coast State College.
Individuals from across the area enjoyed a hot lunch and then discussed challenges and successes businesses may have seen through implementing more policies for inclusion.
Organizers say Bay County is showing to be more open to the conversation and hope events like these break more barriers in the community.
“There’s an opportunity for business growth when a culture within a company is welcoming. Studies have shown that when those policies are in place people are more productive when people can be their genuine, authentic selves,” said Business Outreach Manager of Equality Florida, Rene Cantu.
After having the first Pride Day event in June, Founder and President of the LGBTQ Center of Bay County, Cindy Wilker says they’re moving with more excitement and energy than ever before. “Right now is the time for momentum. We saw the young people come out in the park. Two thousand people came out in the park after torrential rainstorms. Those people brought energy with them that we didn’t even know existed. Honestly, it was unbelievable so we’re taking that momentum now into the business community.”
Cantu said when he and his office have seen more inclusion in the workplace, the offices work more productively. “There’s an opportunity for business growth when a culture within a company is welcoming. Studies have shown that when those policies are in place people are more productive when people can be their genuine, authentic selves,” said Cantu.
He says he sees more growth in the area as the LGBTQ community continues to grow. “We’re really starting to see more of a welcoming attitude, more of a sense that the more inclusive a community becomes, the more successful it can be.”
Wilker said, “Our goal is to be under one umbrella with no initials behind it. We just want to be part of the community, respected and affirmed in the community. That’s who we are.”
The Bay County and Panama City Beach Chambers of Commerce also took part in the event.
To learn more about Equality Florida, click here.
Find out more information on the LGBTQ Center of Bay County, here.