July 06, 2022

How to Get Certified as an LGBTQIA+ Business

The program aims to help LGBTQIA+ small business owners and entrepreneurs compete in the marketplace. It’s also designed to empower LGBTQIA individuals to take a leap of faith and launch their ventures. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to do to get certified as an LGBTQIA+-owned business and how you can benefit.

What is the LGBTBE® Certification?

Given by the NGLCC, the LGBTBE® certification shows that a business comprises LGBTQIA+ individuals or those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. If you pursue this program, you can enjoy access to a business network of over 200 partners. These partners are committed to supporting the supply chains of LGBTQIA+-owned businesses. Your business will also be highlighted in NGLCC’s extensive online database of Certified LGBTBE® companies. Plus, you’ll receive exclusive invitations to local, national, and international NGLCC events throughout the year. You can use these events to network with other LGBTQIA+-owned businesses and find potential vendors or suppliers. In addition, you may be able to secure scholarships through Tuck’s School of Business Executive Education Program at Dartmouth University. You might also qualify for mentorship, monthly educational webinars, and discounts on products and services from NGLCC partners.

Who is Eligible for the LGBTBE® Certification?

To receive the LGBTBE® certification, you must confirm that your business is majority-owned by LGBTQIA+ individuals. The NGLCC also requires that at least 15% of your management and day-to-day operations be controlled by those in the LGBTQIA+ community. As part of the application process, you’ll need to show documentation that proves ownership and citizenship. It’s also essential that your business operates independently from any non-LGBT business enterprise and is headquartered in the U.S. as a legal, for-profit entity.

How to Apply for the LGBTBE® Certification

If you believe you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for the LGBTBE® certification through the NGLCC. Your application fee will likely be waived if you’re already a part of a local NGLCC-affiliated Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Here’s what you need to do to start the application process.

1. Fill Out an Application Online

Visit my.nglcc.org to create a business profile and provide the following information:
  • Your business name
  • Contact information
  • Number of full-time employees
  • Details about how you and any other owners identify
  • Federal tax ID
  • Gross annual income
  • Links to social media accounts
  • Three references to help confirm your information
Also, be prepared to submit paperwork that shows most of the individuals who own and manage your venture are LGBTQIA+. These may include certified copies of marriage licenses, domestic partnership registrations, or civil union certificates. Other documents that will also be accepted are proof of joint property ownership, apartment leases, and petitions for hospital visitation rights. For more details on the specific documents you’ll need, go to the NGLCC website. Once you complete an application, you’ll need to pay a one-time fee directly through the dashboard.

2. Schedule an On-Site Visit

The next step is an on-site visit by NGLCC’s regional certification committees. You’ll need to schedule it so the committee can learn more about your business and how you operate. The visit will also allow the committee to understand your business model and goals in-depth. During the site visit, you’ll be asked various questions like what motivated you to start the business and how you hope to grow it in the future. Site visits are usually 30-minutes long and can be scheduled at a time that works best for you. If you work remotely, your site visit can occur at a coffee shop or public location.

3. Wait for Your Application to Be Reviewed

Once your on-site visit has been completed, the National Certification Committee will carefully evaluate your application to determine whether to grant you the certification. While review times vary, the NGLCC states that the process can take up to 90 days.

4. Get Approved and Onboarded 

Upon approval, you’ll receive an invitation to an orientation webinar. You can attend with your owners and managers to better grasp the certification’s benefits. The webinar is designed to help you make the most out of your new status.

Conclusion: Reap the Benefits of an LGBTBE® Certification

While you must apply for an LGBTBE certification to get approved, the process is worth it. If you’re an LGBTQIA+ business, it can help you connect with individuals who support the LGBTQIA+ and may be just what you need to take your venture to new heights.