As an LGBTQ (an abbreviation for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning”) business owner, hanging a rainbow flag outside your business is a simple way to showcase the welcoming space you’ve created. But did you know you can superpower your efforts by obtaining an LGBTQ business certification?
LGBTQ entrepreneurs are leaders, and obtaining LGBTQ business certification provides official recognition and advocacy for your community. This post will show you how to get LGBTQ certification for your small business and gain access to a nationwide network of companies who share your values of creating safe spaces and advocating for civil rights and small businesses.
What businesses can get LGBTQ certification?
Business owners who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary or gender-expansive can become a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). While LGBTQ allies can support the community in other ways, they cannot obtain LGBTQ certification for their business because the chamber reserves it for members of the LGBTQ community.
More than 900 Certified LGBTBEs within the NGLCC can access over 400 corporate partnership opportunities, networking events and development tools.1 The NGLCC has three main requirements for obtaining certification.
Business requirements for LGBTQ certification:
- The business is at least 51% owned, operated, managed and controlled by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.
- The business operates independently from any non-LGBTQ business enterprise.
- The business is a legal, for-profit entity in the United States.
Why should businesses get LGBTQ certification?
LGBTQ certification is beneficial for your business and the community as a whole. Becoming part of an extensive network of LGBTQ business owners allows you to connect with other driven individuals and gain access to programs that can help expand your business. Additionally, obtaining LGBTQ certification increases visibility and serves as an inspiration to other aspiring LGBTQ entrepreneurs. Here are the top five reasons to become a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise.
5 reasons to become a Certified LGBTBE with NGLCC:
- Join a more extensive network. Joining the NGLCC network gives you access to more than 2,000 contacts of fellow LGBTQ business owners and corporate partners. Build strategic relationships through networking events and meet-ups throughout the year.
- Expand your reach. The international division of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce expands across five continents.
- Get access to resources. Certified LGBTBE companies are eligible for scholarship programs, leadership & development training and corporate & government diversity programming.
- Stand out from the competition. The LGBTQ community spends more than $917 billion every year2 and is more than 75% likely to purchase from LGBTQ inclusive brands.3 Advocating for your community will increase your support.
- Be an inspiration to others. Around 4.5% of Americans identify as LGBT and tend to be younger and poorer than the general population.4 While acceptance is growing, many LGBTQ community members face discrimination and hardships. With an LGBTQ business certification, you can represent and serve as an inspiration to the community.
How to get your LGBTQ business certification
Ready to get your LBGTQ business certification? You can start applying online and complete your application process in five simple steps.
- Make a profile. Create a profile on my.nglcc.org.
- Submit documentation. Upload required documentation showing that controlling business owners identify as LGBTQ.
- Schedule a site visit. Plan a visit with a regional NGLCC representative at your place of business to verify information on your application and learn more about becoming a Certified LGBTBE.
- Wait for review. The National Certification Committee may take up to 90 days to review and approve your LGBTQ business certification.
- Participate in orientation. Once approved, the NGLCC will invite you to a Certified LGBTBE orientation so you can learn how to leverage the benefits of your new business network.
The NGLCC charges a $400 fee to apply and certify your business as an LGBTBE. However, the chamber will waive the registration fee if you become a member of your local affiliate chamber. There are affiliate chambers in every U.S. state. Joining an affiliate chamber provides the additional advantages of a local network alongside your national benefits.
Display your LGBTQ business certification
Once you obtain your LGBTQ business certification, display it with pride! Sharing your certificate will help position you as a leader in your community. For example, companies like Denver-based digital marketing firm, Tree Ring Digital, emphasize the benefits of being an LGBTBE-certified small business through website postings and press releases sharing the news with their community.5
Here are some examples of how you can market being an LGBTQ-owned business:
- Add “LGBTQ-owned and operated” to your website, signage and print marketing materials.
- Donate to local LGBTQ charities.
- Create engaging social media campaigns for Pride Month.
- Develop LGBTQ-themed products that benefit your community.
- Update your Google My Business listing to include LGBTQ-friendly attributes.
Add LGBTQ-friendly attributes to your Google business profile
People use Google My Business to get a glimpse of your business before they make their first visit. Your Google profile includes your hours, photos and business attributes. Help customers feel welcomed by marking indicators like “LGBTQ-friendly” and “gender-neutral bathroom” when applicable. You don’t need your LGBTQ business certification to update these settings. You can even add them if you’re an ally with an LGBTQ-friendly business.
Here are the three simple steps to adding LGBTQ-friendly attributes to your Google My Business page:
- Log in to your Google Business account and access the “info” tab on your dashboard.
- Click the “attributes” section of the listing editor.
- Search for attributes including “gender-neutral bathroom,” “Transgender Safe Space,” and “LGBTQ-friendly.” Then, select the relevant tags, and click “apply.”
Protect your LGBTQ-owned business
You’ve worked hard to overcome adversity and launch your LGBTQ-owned business. Take pride in your accomplishments and obtain your LGBTQ business certification. Doing so will help you expand your network and inspire the next generation of LGBTQ business owners.
As you join a network to help grow your business, protect it along the way. With small business insurance from Thimble, you can slay the day knowing your small business is covered when the unexpected arises. Click “get a quote,” answer a few questions and get a policy in minutes.
- National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Our Network.
- National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. America’s LGBT Economy Report.
- National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The Rise of Rainbow Capitalism and More.
- Reuters. Some 4.5 percent of U.S. adults identify as LGBT: study.
- Tree Ring Digital. Tree Ring Digital is Proud to be a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise.