How to become a certified LGBT Business Enterprise
Businesses certified by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce can gain access to corporate partners, education, accelerator programs and more.
LGBT+ businesses are a force to be reckoned with. They contribute about $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy each year, according to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), which represents 1.4 million business owners.
But fewer than 2,000 businesses are certified as an LGBT Business Enterprise® (LGBTBE). It’s a missed opportunity—and a credential that every LGBT+ business should consider.
“Certification creates a competitive advantage for LGBT+ businesses,” said David Barbee, Head of LGBT+ Business Initiatives at JPMorgan Chase. “It also promotes greater economic inclusion and recognition of these diverse businesses.”
The importance of certification
The NGLCC was established in 2002 to be the voice of LGBT+ business owners nationwide. Today, it offers a number of educational, advocacy and business development programs globally. It’s also the exclusive third-party certification body for LGBTBEs.
LGBTBEs certified by the NGLCC1
Fortune 500 and government partners1
affiliate chambers across 32 states, D.C. and abroad1
The value of certification has grown as more large corporations make supplier diversity a priority. Certified LGBTBEs can gain:
- Official recognition as a verified diverse, LGBT+ business.
- Further access to capacity-building resources, business coaching, accelerator programs and—perhaps most importantly—a vast network of NGLCC corporate partners.
“LGBT+ owners work hard for their businesses, and NGLCC certification works hard for them,” said William Kapfer, Global Head of Supplier Diversity for JPMorgan Chase. “Money talks, and now—more than ever—the private sector is listening to the collective voice of the LGBT+ business community.”
Certification can give businesses tools they need to help market themselves, build client relationships, grow operations, create jobs and become success stories. As Kapfer and the NGLCC contend, “if you can buy it, an LGBTBE can supply it.”
Beyond its many business benefits, certification opens doors for LGBT+ companies to be the difference they wish to see in the economy and their communities.
“As a member of the LGBT+ community, I think it’s important to be present [in the business community] and to take advantage of opportunities,” said Vernon Evenson, Managing Partner and Owner of EvensonBest, an LGBTBE- furniture distributor and JPMorgan Chase supplier in New York City. “It feels like a no-brainer to go through the certification process.”
A bevy of benefits
“From small family-owned shops to large technology companies, the NGLCC has programming across the board,” said Violeta Dudova, Vice President and Senior Strategy Manager at JPMorgan Chase.
At a high level, the benefits of certification include:
- Automatic inclusion in the NGLCC’s online database of certified LGBTBEs, which partners can search to find suppliers.
- Access to scholarships, leadership training and mentorship, including programs like Sip & Pitch, iLEAD, virtual roundtables and industry-specific networking events.
- Participation in NGLCC XLR8 or other accelerator opportunities, such as StartOut or the Techstars Founder Catalyst Program for women and LGBT+ entrepreneurs.
- Eligibility to exhibit at the annual NGLCC Business and Leadership Conference, as well as regional events.
- Use of the NGLCC Certified LGBTBE logo on marketing materials.
Certification also lends the intangible of credibility to whatever product or service LGBTBEs sell. This can be a differentiator for LGBTBEs looking to establish themselves in the marketplace or deepen client relationships.
“Clients today want to be able to demonstrate that they’re working with diverse businesses and different minority groups,” Evenson said. “We do business with at least a dozen international corporations that were very excited that we could be part of a diversity story for them.”
What are the steps to LGBTBE certification?
NGLCC certification is open to businesses that are at least 51% owned, operated, managed and controlled by an LGBT+ person or persons (who also conform to residency requirements).
The process is relatively simple:
- Visit my.nglcc.org to start the application and create a business profile.
- Submit supporting documents establishing ownership and LGBT+ status qualifiers.
- Complete a site visit with an NGLCC-trained ambassador to corroborate information and learn more about the business.
The National Certification Committee meets every month and votes on certification applications. Typically, it takes 30 to 90 days to be approved, and the process includes a $400 fee. Certification lasts for two years, and businesses can be recertified for a $200 fee.
LGBT+ businesses should be aware that the NGLCC waives both fees if the applicant business joins an affiliate chamber, which also confers access to locally focused programming and opportunities.
Advancing LGBT+ identity
Brad Baumoel, Managing Director and Global Head of LGBT+ Affairs at JPMorgan Chase, emphasized that certification is not just about opportunity but also recognition and empowerment. He sees LGBT+ business owners often holding back—something he did as a wallflower youth who was afraid to share big ideas.
Brad Baumoel, JPMorgan Chase Managing Director and Global Head of LGBT+ Affairs
Evenson also stressed the leadership role that LGBTBEs can play. His company leads by example, working with other diverse businesses and bringing them into potential opportunities.
“Becoming certified is something that’s really helping the next generation,” he said. “There’s value in becoming a company that younger LGBT+ companies can look to and [help them] understand why we made the decisions we did.”
Intersectionality is another concept that NGLCC aims to promote through certification and other programs like the NGLCC Communities of Color Initiative and NGLCC Transgender & Gender Expansive (TGX) Initiative.
“We can never forget that LGBT+ people are women, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans and more—we must stand in solidarity as a business force,” Kapfer said.
What we’re doing
JPMorgan Chase, a founding corporate partner of the NGLCC, has made supporting diverse and LGBT+ business owners a priority. The firm does this partly through its Office of LGBT+ Affairs, which offers business resources, tools and career opportunities, among other programming.
Interested in learning more about how JPMorgan Chase is creating economic inclusion and opportunities for LGBT+ and other diverse-owned businesses? Those interested in learning more can download our certification how-to guide, or reach out to their banking relationship team to talk about JPMorgan Chase's support for economic inclusion and opportunities for LGBT+ and diverse-owned businesses.
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