It is one of Megan Williams’ toughest challenges so far in her decade-long association  with GLOBE – the LGBTQI organisation that represents Victoria’s small business owners and professionals.

Williams first started attending GLOBE events as a young professional around a decade ago to network with like-minded people. Two years ago she joined the managing committee and in September 2019 was appointed the Corporate Partnerships Director. In June 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, Williams took over as President of the 28-year-old organisation.

Before she could settle into her new role, a challenge had already presented itself – how to keep the networking events that GLOBE is known for and where professionals form connections going during  lockdown?

“Obviously we couldn’t host face-to-face events in this climate and the best way the team thought of was to bring our networking events online. We have had three virtual networking events so far. It has received a fantastic response and good feedback from our members,” Williams told Star Observer in an interview over the phone.

“The virtual events have been an opportunity for small business owners and community members to share experiences, promote their services, network as well as to support community artists to showcase their performances.”

 The pandemic, lockdowns and social distancing restrictions have been tough on businesses uniformly, but especially so for small LGBTQI business owners in Melbourne and other parts of Australia.

“The optimist in me says, you know, that this is not the first time that our communities have had to face adversities. We are stronger together and we can collectively support each other through this –  seek out LGBTQI businesses, make a financial contribution, if you are not able to buy from them then promote them on social media. That’s the way that we’re going to get through this together,” said Williams.

GLOBE’s efforts to support the community guided its 2020 grants to organisations, businesses and students that were announced last week. The Community Grants of $2000 each went to Out For Australia, Transcend Australia and Bisexual Alliance Victoria. Thrive Fitness was the recipient of its small business grant of $4000, while the GLOBE Scholarship of $2000 went to Phd student Jordan Hinton.

 Leading the organisation through the fallout of the pandemic is one of the  immediate challenges, but Williams has set her sights towards a much larger goal for her term as President of GLOBE.  “We want to be representative of all the diversity within our communities. And I think the first step is to ensure different voices and different perspectives get a seat at the table,” said Williams. “Recently we appointed three new committee members from different backgrounds, all with different lived experiences. And we’re already starting to see that the ideas that come out are a lot more diverse. The other thing on our list is to identify under-represented groups, start conversations, start meaningful relationships so that we can continue to meet their needs.”

GLOBE is also looking to collaborate and work with the local governments to address the issues that the community and small business owners are facing.

“My message for the government is we want to partner with you,  we want your help and we want to help you as well,” added Williams.

GLOBE’s next networking event via video conferencing is scheduled for Aug 13, 2020. Find more details and information about how to attend the event here.

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