We recently spoke with the president of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association (SGLBA), Katherine Maver, about her important work in the queer business space.

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What makes you passionate about the LGBTI business sector?

The SGLBA membership come from a diversity of industries, and it is great to see the LGBTI community come together at our events to network and support each other.

In what ways has the sector changed over the past two decades?

I think the business sector has changed dramatically over the past two decades.

There is more acceptance and engagement between the LGBTI and [cis and straight] business communities. For the SGLBA, in 2001 the Governor Marie Bashir was the Guest of Honour at the 20th Anniversary Black Tie Dinner held in the Ballroom of the New Rex Hotel. She became the first Vice Regal Representative at a gay and lesbian event.

Has the purpose behind SGLBA changed since the organisation began, and in what ways?

I think that as society has changed then the SGLBA has had to change with it. The SGLBA was the brain child of the late Michael Glynn, “to establish an association of business people to promote the interests of gay business” and they had to meet in people lounge rooms and in secret.

Where now we have public networking events that are sponsored by businesses.

How has SGLBA empowered LGBTI professionals to succeed in often straight and cisgender work environments?

At the SGLBA, we understand that as a business association, we believe it’s critically important to be engaged with and provide support to members of the LGBTI community. It is this work that shows and empowers LGBTI professionals to succeed.

What do you hope to achieve during your time with SGLBA?

To be able to live up to our values of:

Network – provide opportunities for members to meet like-minded individuals.

Promote – provide opportunities for members to promote their own business.

Access – ensure that there are opportunities for members to gain exclusive access and discounts to supportive businesses, events, and professional development.

What are the organisation’s plans over the coming 12 months?

Well we have a busy 12 months ahead, including moving Fruits in Suits to the city (Social @ Verandah which is located at 55-65 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW 2000), relaunching our new membership table, launching a suite of member discounts, and presenting a networking women event.

What would you want younger LGBTI professionals entering the workforce to know?

Life doesn’t stop when you come out as LGBTI… it is just the beginning.

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