The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce will begin to help its members—mostly small businesses—work with MLB teams. The initiative came about thanks in part to a former player who has become the league’s primary ambassador for LGBT diversity in recent years.
Major League Baseball is making a push for improved diversity, which, when it comes down to it, is just good business.
This week, the league announced a plan to collaborate with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s members, working to make companies with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) owners a part of MLB’s supply chain. Many of NGLCC’s member companies are small businesses.
The plan was brought forth thanks to Billy Bean, a onetime MLB player who publicly came out as gay in 1999 and now serves as the league’s first ambassador of inclusion.
“We take great pride in the fact that this not only puts us closer to Major League Baseball and the ability to bring innovative suppliers to their operation, but also that we get to work with incredible advocates and athletes like Billy Bean,” NGLCC’s founder and president, Justin Nelson, told Fortune this week.
Bean (who shouldn’t be confused with famed Oakland Athletics executive and Moneyball subject Billy Beane) says that he sought out the collaboration with NGLCC because it meshes with the league’s current diversity goals, which were on display this week at the MLB Diversity Business Summit.
The league is currently working to boost diversity at all levels, including in the front office. In particular, it’s eyeing the LGBT community, where concerns about stigmatization have created challenges for diversity. However, as Outsports notes, Bean’s leadership role on the issue has helped to clear a path for a community that has struggled to make inroads in the past.
Bean emphasized that the willingness of NGLCC to work with the league highlights a significant amount of progress for professional baseball.
“The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is such a well-respected organization, and for them to feel that what they see in baseball is something they would want to align with, it’s a compliment for the work that we’re doing,” Bean told Fortune.