Diversity Certification 101: How to Build Corporate Relationships and Win Business

Driving Growth as a Certified Diverse Business

Imagine winning a contract away from a multibillion-dollar competitor.  Picture yourself being invited to pitch to the elusive head of procurement at your most valuable prospect. Visualize closing a deal without a lengthy negotiation over terms. Sounds too good to be true?  It’s not.  As a certified diverse business, you have unique advantages over Goliath-sized companies. You just need to tap into them.

First, are you a qualified diverse business?

The definition is straightforward. A diverse business is at least 51% owned and operated by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and belongs to a minority group including people of color, women, LGBT individuals, military veterans, disabled individuals, etc. The business must operate in the United States and be a for-profit legal entity.

Next, you have to go and get certified:

Yes, we know you are busy, but trust us, it is worth it.  The process involves documentation, screening, interviews, and possibly on-site visits to verify that your business is, indeed, diverse. The application may take several weeks to be approved, but once you are certified you instantly become more attractive to supplier diversity programs.  There are certifications available from various agencies, including:

As a certified diverse business, you become visible.  You will be listed in databases and procurement networks, and you’ll become discoverable to prospects who need you as much as you need them. Make the most of the opportunity and take the time to think through all of your listing details.  Make sure that you create a concise company description with clear product overviews and keywords.  Use correct NAICS codes, include client references, and keep your information up-to-date.

Now access the benefits:

  • Tap into a network of peers. Certification opens up an entire community of fellow small and diverse businesses. Other suppliers in the community may recommend you for a product or service they may not provide themselves.
  • Participate in exclusive certification programs. Take advantage of networking, development, or educational events targeted towards certified small and diverse businesses.  Virtual or in real-life, these learning opportunities will enhance your skills and build your professional value.
  • Promote your business with certification advertising. A sentence as simple as “Proud to be a [enter certification agency here] member” carries a lot of weight. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council even allows certified members to display a specific logo that sets them apart.  

It’s a win/win

Diversity certification benefits you and your customer. As a supplier, you gain access to more qualified business. Your customer receives the goods and services they need while meeting regulatory requirements and gaining tax advantages. Most importantly, these relationships positively fuel the supply chain.  In 2017, the Hackett Group, a leading corporate benchmarking firm, found that certified diverse suppliers are consistently meeting or exceeding customer expectations.

On supplier.coupa.com, we provide a vast assortment of resources to help get you started.  Stop dreaming of your success over the Goliaths.  Pull out your slingshot and take action today.