Community, Features

Job fair for LGBTQ+ employees draws awareness to financial disparities for the community

The Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce hosted a LGBTQ+ job fair on Oct. 12 for people to learn about opportunities to work at inclusive workplaces with a supportive community. COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA

The Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce hosted a LGBTQ+ Job Fair at Suffolk University on Oct. 12, bringing together many of its partnered companies to discuss the opportunities they have and how they support their LGBTQ+ employees.

“We are having LGBTQ people, for the first time, go to employers [where] they don’t have to hide from their sexuality,” said Grace Moreno, the executive director and CEO of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “They go to an employer who is actually looking for the diversity of their identity.”

Moreno said the LGBTQ+ community always “fare below” heterosexual people in terms of income, healthcare and access to resources.

“I believe that there is no justice until there’s financial justice,” Moreno said. “Those of us who can afford healthcare, or who can afford to send our kids to private school, or who can afford to eat salmon and broccoli are going to have a better outcome than those of us who don’t.”

Improving financial well-being is critical, she said, to improving the community’s “basic human needs.”

Justin Liu, a recent graduate of Lesley University, said he was looking for a job and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, attending this particular fair was more “comfortable” for him.

“I have a portfolio ready. I have confidence in my skills,” Liu said. “But the thing is, I just can’t get into getting interviews because of a lack of experience.”

Liu said he wished there were more employers at the event so the chances of him getting opportunities could be higher.
Moreno said the Chamber works entirely with companies that are willing and committed to be welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ employees. At the job fair, representatives were sent out from more than 50 companies the Chamber has existing partnerships with.

Michelle Goldberg, the associate director of the Management and Entrepreneurship Career Community in the Center for Career Equity Development and Success at Suffolk University, said events like these help to drive equity in the LGBTQ+ workforce.

“The LGBTQIA+ community is one of the most underemployed populations in the workforce,” Goldberg said. “Doing events like this help promote employment opportunities for this population, and increase their confidence in their own abilities in the workforce.”

Bryan Vermes, a global internal communications and employee experience lead at Mimecast, said he leads the company’s diversity recruiting, particularly for the LGBT community, and said he thought it was important for the company to attend.

“We believe that representation matters,” Vermes said. “Showing up at places like these is important and to make sure that the voice of the community is included at our own organization.”

Michael James, the chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Cambridge Health Alliance, said he attended the job fair because the company must seek out “diverse talent” in order to support their patients as a diverse organization.

“A lot of the students and graduates are coming to us very prepared, and it’s amazing,” James said. “They know what they want to do, they’re engaging us in really good conversations and we’re making great connections.”

The relationship building the event offers, he said, is “tremendous” and “needed.”

“The turnout is wonderful,” James said. “The fact that they’re bridging relationships to help LGBTQ community members as well as the various allies and organizations is amazing.”

Moreno said they will hold more conferences they hope can help foster growth and connections between their corporate sector, small businesses and politics as well.

“What these employers are seeing is [that] you get a lot more out of people when they can bring you their whole self,” Moreno said.

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