According to the 2020 Annual Business Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 20 percent of U.S. businesses (or 1.1 million) are minority-owned and The survey also found that about 6 percent are veteran-owned and nearly 21 percent are women-owned. 

Diversity and inclusion are not just important aspects of workplace and hiring policies. Implementing diversity throughout the entire supply chain is necessary to address systemic injustices and promote fair and equitable employment practices and representation across the board. While many large corporations and government agencies have supplier diversity programs, many will not consider a minority- or women-owned business, for example, if they do not hold a supplier diversity certification. 

What is a Diverse Supplier? 

Diverse suppliers are businesses (or sole proprietors) that are 51% or more owned, managed, and controlled by qualifying diverse individuals or traditionally underrepresented groups. This includes minorities, women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, veterans, persons with disabilities, and those who meet the small business criteria as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Who Can Apply for a Supplier Diversity Certification?

Businesses and sole proprietors who meet the criteria for a diverse supplier are eligible to apply for a supplier diversity certification. There are many types of supplier diversity certifications, including:

  • Self certifications
  • Federal certifications
  • State-level certifications
  • Local certifications
  • Non-governmental organization certifications

The certification process typically consists of compiling documentation and submitting an application, undergoing a screening or interview process, and possibly participating in an on-site visit so that the certifying agency can verify the diversity claims made in the application. 

Why Are Supplier Diversity Certifications Important?

Organizations and businesses with supplier diversity programs are looking to hire diverse businesses as contractors, consultants, and more. However, many of these businesses will not contract with a company unless it has a certification that proves its classification as diverse business. A third-party certification ensures that a supplier meets certain requirements, and opens the door for a wide range of hiring opportunities. For example, the federal government has requirements around the hiring of diverse suppliers, so being certified can also improve a business’ chances of winning a government contract. 

Certification is also typically a prerequisite for being added to a vendor portfolio or database for diverse suppliers. Many large corporations look to these databases in order to find diverse suppliers and may not even consider businesses that are not on the list. 

Finally, certification can give diverse businesses access to educational and development resources that can benefit them in the long run. Certification can also provide networking and social benefits as well, as diverse suppliers connect with other similar businesses and create a robust diverse supply chain network. 

Datalou is the only supplier diversity management system with over one million suppliers with specific capabilities in advertising, marketing, communications, and media. Our robust tracking and reporting system helps you document spending and sourcing efforts, manage certifications, and share data with stakeholders.