By DeVere Kutscher, Publisher, Affinity Inc Magazine.
Happily, today more companies than ever, and even government agencies, welcome — and in fact seek out — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-owned businesses as part of their supply-chain diversity strategy. LGBT business enterprises are increasingly joining the ranks of other diverse suppliers such as women, veterans, Hispanic, disabled and other minority-owned businesses enterprises in becoming indispensable partners to thousands of corporations and public-sector agencies nationwide. This change in attitude is wonderful news, no doubt.
However, there is still a very long road ahead. Currently, out of an estimated 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses in America, fewer than 1,000 — or less than 1/10th of one percent — are certified as LGBT business enterprises. We must all work with our friends at the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to growth these numbers. Certification means this very small group has been through the process and proven two critical points:
- Each majority business owner is in fact LGBT.
- The LGBT business owner controls, manages, operates and owns 51 percent or more of the company.
But, why does certification matter? According to the NGLCC, the exclusive third-party certification organization for LGBTBEs, “Certification is the first step in building relationships through corporate supplier diversity.” I couldn’t agree more.
Landing a corporate or government contract is often the critical first step in taking a small or minority-owned business to the proverbial next level. It can serve as a turning point that can be transformative for a company. Much like registering to vote is the most basic step that entitles you to participate in the democratic process, certifying your business is a prerequisite to full participation in the myriad procurement opportunities awaiting a qualified and scalable enterprise in the corporate or public sector.
Our community, with the help of friends and allies in corporate America and government agencies from the federal to the local level, is increasingly opening the doors of opportunity for LGBT individuals and companies to succeed. We must now actively step through those doors and participate in the bounty of those opportunities. While certification is certainly no guarantee of a lucrative contract, it is a key to enter a level playing field or said another way — a license to hunt for the business. It is also the entry point toward education and development opportunities available exclusively to certified LGBTBEs. And as always, we never wish for an enterprise to be selected for a contract merely because it is LGBT, Hispanic or woman-owned. We want our businesses to be chosen because they are the best American enterprises to get the job done!
Take that first step today. Go to www.nglcc.org/steps-lgbtbe-certification and learn more about pursuing LGBTBE certification.