Reflecting changing times, Business Guild to become ‘LGBT Chamber’

When the Charlotte Business Guild was founded in 1992 as an advocacy and networking group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender businesspeople, the group’s nondescript name helped shield members from criticism and discrimination.

But public opinion in the U.S. has shifted drastically in the past 23 years, and the Charlotte Business Guild is changing its name.

The group’s board has voted to rename itself the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, making clear the organization’s mission.

“We must embrace who we are and allow others to realize what market we represent,” said Chad Turner, the group’s president, in a statement Wednesday. “When a corporation or company makes a commitment to sponsor or join as a member, they want the full value of being a part of an organization that is proud of and deliberate in its mission for economic empowerment and equality within the city it serves.”

The organization’s branding will be changed in the coming weeks, and the group plans a formal unveiling of the new name in December, at the group’s annual meeting and holiday party. The group will announce more details Thursday morning at the Charlotte Chamber.

The group has some 250 members, which includes companies and individuals.

Local business leaders applauded the change.

“The growing diversity of Charlotte’s population is a competitive advantage in attracting jobs and investment. We have been proud partners of the Charlotte Business Guild for nearly a decade and look forward to continuing that partnership with the new Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce for many years to come in the future,” said Bob Morgan, CEO of the Charlotte Chamber.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo