If you’re an LGBT business owner – or aspiring business owner – looking to take your entrepreneurship to the next level, read on. This article will cover the steps for registering as a certified LGBTQIA business.
There’s been a strong push in recent years to expand diversity and inclusion in businesses, educational facilities, and government agencies. You’ll see this in the increase in efforts to support women-owned businesses and businesses owned by Black entrepreneurs and other members of minority communities.
Business organizations aimed at marginalized groups have been popping up, offering classes, loans, grants, and access to further resources to help people succeed. The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is one of those organizations.
It offers gay and transgender businesspeople opportunities for growth and success, helping even the playing field for these underrepresented groups. They now provide a way for businesses to be certified as an LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE).
What is a Certified LGBTBE?
In short, an LGBTBE is a business primarily owned and operated by a person (or persons) who identify on the LGBTQIA spectrum.
Why Get LGBTBE Certified?
Here are just some of the benefits of LGBTBE certification.
If you watch television or browse the internet for even a short time during pride month, it’s easy to see that today’s most prominent companies are working hard to reach the LGBT community. And it doesn’t end when June is over; the so-called Pink Dollar – the buying power of LGBT people – is estimated at an impressive 3.7 trillion dollars, a number that’s making the business world embrace the considerable potential of this once-ignored demographic year ’round.
LGBT people are more likely to do business with companies they know are genuinely involved in their communities, whether as a member or an ally. This means actively avoiding businesses that have a track record of discriminatory practices and supporting those who are open and inclusive.
And it’s not just the gay community who does this. Today’s young adults – millennials and Gen Z’s – were raised in a more progressive social climate than previous generations and tend to have an overall positive view of LGBT people and causes. This is apparent in the popularity of TV shows and movies with LGBT characters and themes and in the enthusiasm for corporations that vocally support gay rights.
The public has become increasingly aware of the LGBT struggle and other equality causes, and more people are actively trying to spend their dollars in a conscious way that contributes to inclusivity. Because of this, there has been an uptick in interest in women-owned and minority-owned businesses.
As a certified LGBTBE, you’ll get access to various resources that can propel your business forward. You may also reap social rewards. These can include:
Education and Training
Whether you’re just starting out as a business owner or you’ve been in business for years, understanding your industry and how it evolves is essential for growth. Training and continuing education opportunities can help you learn new skills and adapt to a changing world.
While many business owners start with little and pull themselves up by their own will, few do it entirely alone. Having some support from mentors who have walked the road you’re on can make a huge difference as you move forward with your venture.
Suppliers in the NGLCC sphere are lining up to do business with LGBT-owned businesses. By being certified, you’ll have access to these companies and others who can help you streamline your enterprise, cut costs and expand your line of products/services.
While social acceptance of LGBT people has improved dramatically in the last decade, there are still battles to be won, and many young gay people still struggle. Being an open and successful queer entrepreneur and the owner of a certified LGBTBE can set an encouraging example for those still trying to find their way in life.
What are the Qualifications to Be Certified as an LGBTBE?
- Your business must be a United States-based registered business entity.
- Your place of business must have its headquarters on US soil.
- Your business needs to be majority-owned (at least 51 percent ownership) by a person who identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA community.
- It can’t be a subsidiary or offshoot business; it needs to operate independently of any other non-LGBT-owned enterprise.
Before applying for certification, you’ll have to gather some relevant documentation. You’ll need to provide proof of business ownership and show that you’re a registered business in your state.
You’ll have to show that you are a US citizen or legal resident and they will also want further information about your business, including the structure (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.), tax number, and the type of products or services your business provides.
Proving LGBT Status For LGBTBE Certification
Next is the part many people may find odd: proving LGBTQIA status. Something as basic to identity as sexual orientation generally doesn’t need to be “proven” in everyday life, but when it comes to joining a business organization like this, there must be some criteria provided to ensure that the benefits are going to the people they’re intended for.
So, how do you prove you’re a member of the LGBTQIA community?
- Proof of civil union or marriage with someone of the same sex.
- Proof of health insurance showing a same-sex partner is on your plan.
- Proof of parenting efforts (in-vitro fertilization, adoption, surrogacy) made by you and a same-sex partner.
- Proof of name change, procedures, or other steps to affirm gender.
- Letter from an attorney or two personal references attesting to your status
- Apartment lease or deed on which you appear with a same-sex partner.
Of course, you don’t need to have all of these, but you will want to have at least one.
Being an LGBTBE can boost your business, encourage connections with others in your industry, and help inspire others from your community. If you’re interested in having your company certified, visit the NGLCC’s website to submit your application.