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How to become a certified diverse supplier

By SME Institute

Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for businesses. As Canada progresses towards becoming a more inclusive society, organizations are increasingly interested in supplier diversity as a way to reflect these values within their own operations. Becoming a certified diverse supplier gives your business access to new opportunities and can help you stand out from the competition. Here’s everything you need to know about how to become a certified diverse supplier in Canada.

What is a certified diverse supplier?

Supplier diversity is the practice of sourcing goods and services from suppliers that are owned or operated by marginalized groups, such as women, visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ2+ individuals and persons with disabilities. Promoting supplier diversity not only supports businesses that may face barriers to success, but also helps create a more innovative and competitive marketplace.

A certified diverse supplier is a company that has been verified by an accredited certification body as being at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more members of a designated group. In Canada, there are four designated groups: women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minority groups.

Why Become Certified?

There are numerous benefits to becoming a certified diverse supplier in Canada. For starters, it will give your company access to exclusive contracting opportunities with the Canadian government and other large organizations. Many large organizations have specific targets for the percentage of their total spend that goes towards procurement from diverse suppliers. As a result, these organizations often give preference to certified diverse suppliers when awarding contracts.

In addition, as a certified diverse supplier, your company will be listed in the Canadian Supplier Diversity Directory, which is used by buyers looking for suppliers that reflect the diversity of their customer base. Lastly, becoming certified will help your company build brand awareness and credibility within the Canadian business community.

How do I become a certified diverse supplier?

The first step is to determine whether or not your company is eligible for certification. To be eligible, your company must:

  • Be at least 51% owned by one or more members of a designated group (women, visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities)
  • Be controlled by one or more members of a designated group through the majority of shares issued and outstanding or voting rights held by such members
  • Not be controlled by any government entity
  • Operate independently from any other affiliate companies
  • Be primarily managed and operated in Canada
  • Demonstrate financial viability

Types of Certifications

There are two main types of certifications that businesses can pursue in order to demonstrate their diverse ownership: self-certification and third-party certification.

Self-Certification: This type of certification is usually available through the organization’s website and does not require any documentation or supporting evidence. Once you have completed the self-certification form, your business will be listed in the organization’s directory of certified diverse suppliers.

Third-Party Certification: Unlike self-certification, third-party certification requires businesses to provide documentation that demonstrates their compliance with the requirements for certification. This could include things like articles of incorporation, business licenses, tax returns, etc. Once you have gathered all of the required documentation, you will need to submit it to the certifying body for review. If your application is approved, you will be issued a certificate that can be used to demonstrate your diversity status to potential customers/clients.

Certification Bodies

There are three main diversity certifications available in Canada: the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) Certification, the Women Business Enterprise Canada (WBE Canada) Certification, and the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) Certification. Each organization has its own application process, but all require that businesses meet certain criteria related to ownership, employee composition, and spending with other certified diverse suppliers.

The application process for each organization can be found on their respective websites, but generally speaking, you will need to provide documentation such as business licenses, bank statements, tax returns, and contracts with other suppliers. You will also need to undergo an on-site assessment to ensure that your business meets the required standards.

Once you’re certified, you’ll be able to access a number of benefits including exclusive networking events, mentorship opportunities, and marketing support. You’ll also be able to list your business in online directories which makes it easier for potential customers to find you. Becoming a certified diverse supplier is a great way to take your business to the next level.

Certification as a diverse supplier can open up many doors for your business. If you’re interested in becoming certified, start by gathering the required documentation and then submit an application to the appropriate certifying body in your province or territory. Once you’re certified, don’t forget to renew your certificate on an annual basis!

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