Supplier diversity certification
In order to classify your company as a diverse business, SRP requires proof of certification. We accept certification from the following organizations:
- The National Minority Supplier Development Council (and/or any of its affiliates)
- The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (and/or any of its affiliates)
- Government agencies and/or entities (City of Phoenix, etc.)
- State agencies and/or entities (Arizona Department of Transportation, etc)
Frequently asked questions
Certification as a woman- or minority-owned business indicates an objective third-party organization has closely examined a business and determined (usually through submitted documents and a site visit) that the business is owned, operated and controlled by a woman or minority or a group of women or minorities. While each certifying agency may have varying standards, most agencies require a business owner to be a U.S. Citizen or have U.S. Resident Alien status and to meet specific criteria proving true ownership and control of the business.
Determining if certification is right for you requires you to examine your business plan to see if you will be able to utilize certification as a tool in growing your business. Certification helps some businesses more than others and in some cases, depending on your product or service and your customer base, certification may not bring significant value to your organization.
Generally speaking, businesses providing products and services marketable to other businesses, corporations or government entities will garner the most value from certification. Examples of businesses which can utilize certification as a resource or tool include, but are not limited to, service providers and consultants, industries not traditionally owned and operated by women such as general contractors, construction companies and electricians, and those within competitive industries such as Information Technology (IT), marketing and advertising. Small businesses or retailers which market directly to the general consumer such as florists, card and gift operations, minor home repair businesses, etc. may not experience a significant benefit, if any, from certification. The value of certification will ultimately rest in how the certification is used, which is usually as a means of gaining access or breaking into accounts.
If some of your corporate or government customers are asking you if you are certified or are encouraging you to become certified, there is a reason for it. Often times, these entities are tracking their dollars spent with diverse businesses (including woman business enterprises (WBEs), minority business enterprises (MBEs), small business enterprises (SBEs), disable veteran business enterprises (DVBEs), etc) by both dollar amount and percentage of total spend. They are tracking these dollars for any number of reasons which may include:
- Business objectives related to customer base, competitive edge, or economic growth
- Contract requirements, meaning one, or more, of their customers with whom they are under contract is requiring them to report diverse spend as a requirement in fulfilling the contract
In the case of contract fulfillment, some of your customers may be facing negative consequences if they fail to comply with diverse business spend requirements. Their contract could possibly be cancelled or not renewed, which could mean lost business to you if you are sub-contracting to them. In complying with contract requirements and mandates, corporations and government entities often require certification as a means of identifying diverse suppliers and protecting the integrity of the diverse business figures they are reporting.
Becoming certified takes time, effort and diligence on your part as a business owner, as it requires a substantial amount of paperwork. Depending on the certifying agency, certification may require a fee as high as $350 and can take up to 90 days from the time you submit your paperwork. You can reduce process time by ensuring complete and accurate information in the packages you submit to the certifying organization. Keep in mind, certifying organizations are required to strictly adhere to standards in order to protect the integrity of the certification, which makes it more valuable to you once you have it.
Some of the information and documents you may be asked for when applying for certification include, but are not limited to:
- History of the business
- Financial structure
- Business plan
- Proof of citizenship and gender (if applying as a woman-owned business)
- Financial statements
- Customer references
- Loan activity
- Stock certificates
- Tax returns
- Legal structure documents:
- Articles of Incorporation
- Articles of Organization
- Stock Ledgers
- Management agreements
- Franchise/license agreements
- List of employees
- Salary information
- Profit sharing information
- Copies of bank-signature authorization card
Organizations which certify woman- and minority-owned businesses include government entities, such as cities, counties, states and federal agencies, clearinghouses, such as the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Clearinghouse, the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). Deciding which organization(s) from which you should pursue certification requires some homework on your part. You want to choose the certification which is likely to be accepted by the majority of your customers.
For example: If the City of Phoenix is one of your primary customers, certifying through the city makes sense for your business. If, on the other hand, your business is of a national or global nature, certifying through WBENC or NMSDC will be more useful to you as both organizations offer a nationally accepted certification.
Detailed information about the organizations and their certification processes can be found on their web sites (both organizations have local affiliates or regional partners):
WBENC's affiliate for the Phoenix area is the Women's Business Enterprise Council-West, and is often referred to as WBEC-West.
NMSDCs regional affiliate is the Grand Canyon Minority Supplier Development Council, or GCMSDC.