LGBQTIA+ businesses are an essential part of the American economy, contributing over $1.7 trillion in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs each year. To support this growth, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) created the LGBTBE® certification program. This program helps LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs and business owners to compete in the mainstream marketplace.
Certification can offer a number of benefits, including helping you connect with other businesses and organizations that are committed to diversity and inclusion. It also highlights your commitment to equality and helps promote your business as a leader in the LGBTQIA+ community.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of getting certified as an LGBTQIA+ owned business and how it can benefit your business moving forward.
What is LGBTBE® certification?
LGBTBE® certification is granted by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. The NGLCC is the exclusive, third-party certification body that verifies that eligible businesses are majority-owned by LGBTQIA+ individuals. It also subsequently grants the Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® (Certified LGBTBE®) designation to such businesses as part of its LGBT Supplier Diversity Initiative.
This certification gives LGBTQIA+ business owners access to a number of benefits, such as:
- A powerful business network of over 200 corporate partners. Each partner is committed to supplier diversity and the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ owned businesses in their supply chains.
- Increased visibility for your business through NGLCC’s extensive online database of Certified LGBTBE® companies.
- Access to NGLCC’s national, international, and local events throughout the year.
Who qualifies for LGBTBE® certification?
To be eligible for NGLCC certification, your business must be majority-owned by an LGBTQIA+ person or persons. In addition, at least 51 percent of the management and daily operations of the company must be controlled by LGBTQIA+ individuals. The application process includes providing documentation to prove both ownership and citizenship.
What are the benefits of LGBTBE® certification?
The LGBTQIA+ community is a thriving economic driver. In fact, data shows that there is over $3.7 trillion dollars in purchasing power in the LGBTQIA+ community. In addition, research from the NGLCC found that LGBTQIA+ buyers are 75 percent more likely to change brands if they know they are inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Not only does LGBTBE® certification connect you with like-minded business owners and corporate allies, but it also allows your company to tap into a whole host of exclusive opportunities. Some of these include:
- Access to exclusive networking and business development opportunities.
- Free or discounted rates for NGLCC events and webinars.
- Mentorship and educational programs through the NGLCC network.
- Discounts on products and services from NGLCC partners.
- Scholarship opportunities through Tuck’s School of Business Executive Education Program at Dartmouth.
- The ability to showcase your commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I) to consumers, employees, and partners.
In addition, diversity and inclusion has become a top priority for many American businesses. Gaining LGBTBE® certification can help you stand out when competing for business opportunities.
You’ll also serve as a role model for up-and-coming LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs and help pave the way for a more inclusive economy.
How to get LGBTBE® certification
Applications for LGBTBE® certification are available online through the NGLCC. There is a four-step application process for businesses that wish to become certified. Application fees are typically waived for any business that is already a member of a local NGLCC-affiliated Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Here’s how to get started.
1. Fill out the online application
First, create a business profile on my.nglcc.org. At this stage, you need to provide documentation to prove that you meet the requirements for certification. The required paperwork must attest that each majority company owner is LGBTQIA+ and that they have control, manage, operate, and possess at least 51 percent of the firm. You can learn more about the specific documentation required for NGLCC certification on its website.
Please note there is a $400 fee (current to the time of this post’s publication) to submit your application.
2. Schedule an on-site visit
All Certified LGBTBE® companies must provide site visits to the NGLCC’s regional certification committees. These visits serve two purposes: First, they provide an opportunity for the committee to become familiar with the business and its day-to-day operations. Second, these visits give committee members a chance to get to know you and your business goals better.
Site visits are generally 30 minutes long and can be scheduled at a time that is convenient for you.
3. Your application will be reviewed
After your visit, the National Certification Committee will determine your certification status. This process can take up to 90 days.
4. Get approved and onboarded
Once your application is approved, you’ll be invited to participate in an orientation webinar. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the benefits of certification and how to make the most of them.
LGBTBE® certification for people of color
Intersectionality is a key value at NGLCC, which is why they’ve committed to promoting LGBTBE® certification for people of color through the Communities of Color Initiative (CoCI). If you are a person of color and are interested in getting certified, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LGBTQIA+ businesses who are also minority business owners may also be eligible for Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification, which can offer additional opportunities for government contracts and set-asides (contracts that the government has set aside for businesses that comply with certain requirements). Learn more about MBE certification here.
Celebrate your pride with LGBTBE® certification
Becoming a Certified LGBTBE® company can help your business connect with a wider community of LGBTQIA+ supporters, as well as government institutions and funding options.
Not to mention, by increasing your business’s visibility as an inclusive and welcoming space for everyone, you’re not only supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, but also helping to create a more diverse and prosperous future for us all.
Disclaimer: Fundbox and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.