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How to Become a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise

If you’re an LGBTQ business owner, becoming a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise through the NGLCC can help you market your business, access networking and business development opportunities, and even gain supplier contracts with corporate and government partners. Unfortunately, becoming certified as an LGBT-owned business isn’t as simple as saying, “Hello, I’m LGBT,” and filling out a form. It’s a multi-step process that involves a lot of paperwork. So, in honor of Pride Month, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to applying for LGBT Business Enterprise certification.

What Is the NGLCC?

The National LGBT Chamber of Congress (NGLCC) is a not-for-profit advocacy group that provides third-party certification for LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBE). NGLLC has partnerships with corporations and state and local governments across the US, which have committed to contracting with Certified LGBTBE suppliers.

Steps to LGBTBE Certification

Applying for LGBTBE Certification isn’t something you can do in an afternoon. You’ll first need to join a local affiliate chamber, create a business profile, and submit documentation about yourself and your business, including documentation verifying that the business is at least 51% LGBT-owned. You’ll also need to allow a site visitor to come to your place of business. Still, for many businesses, the benefits of certification outweigh the hassle, so here are the steps you can take to get there:

1. Join a local NGLCC Affiliate Chamber.

Joining an affiliate chamber isn’t required for certification, but if you are a member of an affiliate chamber, NGLCC will waive the certification fee—which is $899. You can find the affiliate chamber closest to you by searching the NGLCC website. If there isn’t a chamber in your city or state, you can join whichever one is nearest to you, or even start one yourself.

Being part of a local affiliate chamber can help you network with other LGBT and allied businesses in your local community. Note that you’ll have to pay an annual membership fee, which, depending on the affiliate, size of your business, and membership level you choose, can cost anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars a year.

2. Create an online business profile.

The next step is to create an online account with NGLCC. In your online account, you’ll need to create a business profile and enter some information, including:

  • Contact information

  • Business name and legal structure

  • Date and jurisdiction of formation/incorporation (if applicable)

  • Gross revenue

  • Number of employees

  • Federal tax ID (EIN or SSN)

  • Business description

  • Social media links

  • NAICS Code

  • Whether you’re a member of an NGLCC affiliate chamber

  • Whether you have any other diversity certifications, such as Certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise, Certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprise, or Veteran Business Enterprise

  • 3 References or Contracts

After you create your business profile, an NGLCC employee will reach out to you with instructions for submitting your supporting documents.

3. Submit supporting documents.

You can read the NGLCC Supporting Documents Checklist to know exactly which documents you need to submit. Required supporting documents include:

  • Proof of membership in a local affiliate chamber (necessary to waive the certification fee)

  • Proof of US citizenship or Permanent Resident status

  • Verification of LGBTQ status (See LGBT Status Qualifiers)

  • Business documents, including tax forms, organizational documents, brief history of the business, etc.

4. Complete a site visit.

Once NGLCC has reviewed your application, they’ll contact you to schedule a site visit with an NGLCC-trained ambassador. The site visitor will come to your place of business to confirm the information on your application and ask follow-up questions. There’s no fee for a site visit unless you have to cancel or reschedule, in which case, you might be charged a fee for the inconvenience.

5. Complete the National Certification Committee Review.

After your site visit, you’ll need to wait 30-90 days for the National Certification Committee to meet and review your application. If they confirm your business meets all the qualifications, they’ll approve you as a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise.

6. Get re-certified every 3 years.

Certification lasts for three years, starting from the date the certification is granted. After three years, you’ll need to re-certify your business to keep getting the benefits of certification. You can complete the Re-Certification Application through your MyNGLLC online account. The re-certification fee is $499, but this fee is waived for active members of affiliate chambers.

Benefits of LGBTBE Certification

Here are some of the benefits of certification:

  • Opportunity to compete for contracts with NGLCC’s corporate and government partners.

  • Use of the NGLCC logo on marketing materials, advertising that your business is Certified LGBT-owned.

  • Eligibility to exhibit at the NGLCC International Business and Leadership Conference.

  • Inclusion in an online database of certified LGBT businesses, which is searchable by NGLCC’s corporate partners.

  • Access to mentorship programs, leadership trainings, and scholarship opportunities.

  • Opportunity to participate in NGLCC programs and initiatives, such as the Transgender and Gender Expansive (TGX) Initiative and the Communities of Color Initiative (CoCi).

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This entry was posted in Opinion.