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Strengthening the Supply Chain Through Diversity: Why Certification Matters

For diverse suppliers, the logistics and benefits behind certification are many. Here’s a breakdown.


A Brief History

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy championed the Civil Rights Act. Since that time, diversity in the workforce has taken leaps forward. By the end of the 60s, President Nixon signed an executive order to officiate supplier diversity in the United States. These and other future milestones opened doors for Diverse Suppliers around the world.

It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that Canada started to see official involvement in the supplier diversity space. In 2004, the Canadian Supplier Diversity Councils and the Supplier Diversity Alliance Canada were founded. Later in 2016, the City of Toronto joined as the first governing organization. Today, the Canadian government and many other large corporations remain committed and supportive of supplier diversity efforts. This history is part of what led to the development of certification in Canada and its many benefits for Diverse Suppliers.

What is Certification?

If you are a Diverse Supplier, getting certified means that a certifying body has verified the fact that your business is diverse-owned and -operated. After applying, your business is guided through the steps required to receive your certification. A company needs to be at least 51% diverse owned and operated to get certified, which ensures that Diverse Suppliers are active decision-makers and participants in their business and not just figureheads.

Who Can Get Certified?

In Canada, you must be part of a traditionally underrepresented group to receive certification. Your business must be at least 51% diverse-owned and operated, and be a Canadian business to be certified by one of the six bodies:


  • IWSCC (Inclusive Workplace and Supply Council of Canada support disabled and Veteran business owners)
  • CGLCC (Canada’s LGBT + Chamber of Commerce)
  • CAMSC (Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council)
  • WBE (Women Business Enterprises of Canada)
  • CCAB (Canadian Council for Aboriginal Businesses)
  • WEConnect (Certifies women-owned businesses)

Certification vs. Self Identification

Self-identification is not the same as a certification. Telling people that your business is diverse is often not enough to gain trust and interest from large corporations. Luckily, certification opens up your company to many opportunities not available otherwise, including:


  • Trustworthiness: Getting certified means that your business was screened by an approved certifying body. Corporations require a certain level of vetting to be done before they can report diverse spend, and rely on certifying bodies to undertake this process on their behalf.


  • Business Connections: Corporations or governments become ‘Corporate Members’ with Supply Councils and provide financial or in-kind support. In return, they get to meet and do business with Certified Suppliers to meet their annual goals for diverse spend (that increase every year!).


  • Networking: Beyond meeting with Corporate Members, Certified Suppliers join a community of like-minded business owners. With greater support and sharing of resources, faster and more meaningful growth is possible.


  • Learning: Most certifying bodies host webinars or other events that educate on best practises on doing business with Corporate Members, among other topics. Plus, some Corporate Members host their own mentoring opportunities.

A Future of Opportunities

The history of certification began with the call for inclusion. It’s taken decades to get where we are today and the journey toward a more diverse supply chain continues. Becoming a Certified Diverse Supplier not only supports your business but an entire community committed to diversity. By getting certified, you can get greater visibility from Fortune 500 companies, gain trust with corporations, and connect with other suppliers who can support your efforts. From running companies to winning contracts, together, we are stronger!

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