Andrew Georgiou is the acting president of GLOBE, a business networking organisation for LGBTQI communities, small businesses and professionals. They help people connect, learn and grow in a safe, nurturing environment. Star Observer invited Andrew to give his perspective of the effects of the pandemic on the business community.
It’s important to acknowledge how tough the situation of COVID-19 is, for individuals, our community at large and specifically our LGBTQI communities. We know that research and real-life experiences assert that our communities have an increased risk of depression, anxiety and feelings of isolation already and the impacts of COVID-19, whether health, physical and/or social restriction measures, whilst understandably required, only exacerbate these already real issues for our communities.
For the past 27 years, GLOBE has provided a space for like-minded people to connect, get to know each other, forge long-lasting and meaningful personal and professional relationships and in some cases, has been the primary outlet for our members to be their authentic selves in a safe and welcoming environment. We are asking the question, what happens to our members and non-members when we can’t meet face to face to make those connections?
The silver lining is that we are all in this situation together and we need to overcome and create a new kind of normality that will require all our collective effort. We need to work together as a community which we have done throughout history, whilst acknowledging and being aware of the most vulnerable in this situation.
It’s important for organisations like ours to support, enable and empower our LGBTQI communities. We need to look at ways to respond and adapt the way we support our community to ensure that we can continue to play that supportive role for our people. Increasing online presence helps businesses increase connection, remain visible and provide resources and support services to the community.
Now more than ever, we need to help small businesses where we can, so supporting, liking, promoting and purchasing products or services is paramount. Our Small Business Showcase series on our social media platforms is an example of how small business members can introduce themselves, share their stories and showcase their business online where traditional in-person networking events are not available.
GLOBE has a long and proud tradition of providing financial support to individuals, groups and organisations in the Victorian LGBTQI community through the GLOBE Community Grants, GLOBE Small Business Grants and the GLOBE Scholarship. Applications are now open, and we are excited and proud to have launched this program last week given the current environment.
It’s hard to know what the lasting impact will be, given the situation continues to change at such a rapid rate but I am optimistic that members of our community will bounce back. Adversity is not a new concept to many of us and whilst I can’t speak for all LGBTIQ+ communities, I feel that time and time again we (the collective) have broken though and achieved and succeeded in the face of those adversities and we know how to come together as a community.