Supplier in the Spotlight: GEI Inc. and JJ Marie Gufreda
(JJ Marie Gufreda at book signing)
Telling the stories of business owners is a passion of ours at the NGLCC. The experiences of our ever-growing roster of Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® (Certified LGBTBE®) suppliers are all unique, significant, and most of all, inspirational. The story of JJ Marie Gufreda, founder of GEI Inc., is no exception.
JJ Marie Gufreda founded GEI Inc. 25 years ago, a consulting firm that works to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Gufreda has had many other roles in her life: advocate, writer and performer. She has gone from a manufacturing management consultant to an LGBT advocate in the span of her life, and serves to inspire LGBT people in their journey to success. As a transgender business owner, she has experienced triumphs and pitfalls, and has taken her experiences in the workplace to advocate for diversity in all businesses.
Gufreda has been in consulting for 35 years. Her own consulting firm, GEI, was founded 25 years ago, and became a Certified LGBTBE® with NGLCC 10 years ago. Over the years, she has consulted with Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, and everything in between. She was the President of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce in Indiana and wrote a book titled “A Field Guide to Transgenders, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals - In the Family, On the Job and In the Pew.”
(JJ Marie Gufreda’s book, Left Hand In London, cover)
Currently, she works to promote the celebration of diversity and strives to make the conversation on diversity and inclusion less daunting for businesses.
“Many organizations have initiatives, but may not be open to improvement because any constructive criticism or identification of needed improvements might sound like criticizing minorities. Discussing diversity can be taboo! An experienced outside resources like my company [GEI] can be helpful to find areas of improvement,” said Gufreda.
Gufreda’s “Diversity Consulting” practice works to help clients generate visions and plans and work with groups to help businesses improve their Diversity and Inclusion efforts.
She has also taken her interest in theater and created a one woman show titled, “Left-Hander in London - The Earthquake.” She utilizes these performances as an education and entertainment tool for diversity training in the workplace and beyond. Using humor and song, Gufreda works to display the transgender experience in a variety of different settings, a spin on the traditional consulting practice.
Gufreda uses her one-woman show to educate the audience on inclusion in society and the business world. “The show is a creative, alternative way to facilitate discussion and educate people about diversity. Consulting and the show may be related, but each can stand alone as clients’ needs dictate,” said Gufreda.
(2018 NGLCC Business and Leadership Conference)
When Gufreda attended her first International Business and Leadership Conference over 10 years ago, NGLCC served as a unique resource that she hadn’t had before. When she became a Certified LGBTBE®, more opportunities opened up to her.
“When I went through transition, it was rare to own a business. NGLCC helped me gain connections,” said Gufreda.
NGLCC works with LGBT individuals and businesses to promote a diverse business world. Our Trans Inclusion Task Force is meant to promote businesses like GEI, and to provide spaces and resources to help Trans+ business owners succeed.
She continues to fight for LGBT equality in all aspects of life, not simply the workplace. Gufreda serves as an inspiration to us at the NGLCC, and to LGBT businesses and individuals everywhere.
Do you want to attend this year’s International Business and Leadership Conference to gain connections and experiences? Click here.
Want to share your story of success with the NGLCC network? Let us know at [email protected]