Diversity certification programs have brought benefits to the businesses that undertake them. A survey by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that 55 percent of diverse business owners believe it is important to be officially certified as a diverse supplier and that certification affords them new opportunities.

The ANA’s report, “And Now a Word from the Diverse Suppliers: The Supplier Perspective on Certification,” details that the benefits of obtaining certification include increased participation in RFPs (62 percent), additional exposure to corporate marketing departments (58 percent) and increased sales (52 percent). In this study, the term ‘suppliers’ refers to all types of vendors.

Diverse suppliers were defined in the report as women-owned, ethnic/minority-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, disability-owned and small businesses. The companies surveyed were on a list of certified diverse suppliers compiled by the ANA and its operating division, the ANA’s Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM).

The new report was designed to understand the importance, benefits, challenges and complexity of the certification process among suppliers, says ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “Certification is important to marketers and diverse suppliers and fuels progress toward our industry’s goals of reducing investment inequalities. I urge all marketers to give special consideration to certified suppliers and to promote certification as a process to facilitate advancing diversity in our industry.”

The survey’s authors expected that suppliers would find the certification process difficult, but its results show concern was overstated. While 31 percent of respondents characterized the process as difficult, 35 percent felt it was easy and 34 percent were neutral—almost an even distribution of responses. Additionally, the time needed to gather all required documents prior to submittal for certification is short—three months or less for 82 percent of respondents—and the time to become certified after submitting paperwork is also short—three months or less for 71 percent of respondents.

Also identified in the survey is that certification maximizes the opportunity for suppliers to be considered and hired, since some companies make certification mandatory for doing business with diverse suppliers as certification authenticates that a supplier is indeed who they say they are. It removes the burden to confirm the ownership of a company from the marketer, and it is instead handled by a certification organization. Some of the major certification organizations include the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and the Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE).