Leveraging Supplier Diversity Programs

In this guide, we cover two key elements to help you begin in your quest to get a government or corporate supplier diversity contract:
  • Earning a diversity certification
  • Leveraging the certification to help earn a government or corporate contract
If you want to learn about how business credit can impact your ability to acquire supplier diversity contracts, check out our ultimate guide to business credit.

Guide to Diversity Certifications

In effort to help all small business owners compete for corporate and government contracts, certification programs exist at both the state and federal level for diverse-owned and underutilized businesses. The purpose of these diversification programs is to empower small business owners to procure government contracts, giving them access to the hundreds of billions of dollars the government spends on private contracts each year. Though states have different types of localized certification programs, the application process is similar to those at the federal level.

A great resource for small business owners interested in receiving a diversification certification is the Small Business Administration’s web site. There, small business owners can see all of the types of federally sponsored programs that provide contracting support for small businesses. To get certified at the state level, small business owners should check out their respective state’s website or take advantage of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, which provide local contracting assistance including help with certifications.

Whether you’re a veteran small business owner or a small business owner in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, the application process is usually the same. The first step is to determine the size of your small business according to the SBA’s size standards, which rely on the NAICS for industry classification so you’ll need to be familiar with that information too. Determine which diversification programs are applicable to your small business and prepare to provide documentation to prove this information. Ensure your business meets all the stipulations necessary to qualify, for example, in order to be certified as a women-owned business, the company must be 51 percent owned or controlled by one or more women.

D&B Diversity RegistrationOnce your small business has been officially granted certification, you still must register as a government contractor on the System for Award Management (SAM) database, which will require a D&B D-U-N-S Number for your business. Once your business has a D-U-N-S number, is registered on the SAM database and receives its diversification certificate, you are free to research and bid on government opportunities at FedBizOpps.gov.

In addition, as an important part of Dun & Bradstreet’s continuing efforts to identify diverse suppliers, Dun & Bradstreet is encouraging diverse suppliers to self identify your organization as a diverse supplier.

Woman-Owned Businesses

As woman-owned firms now make up about 30% of all enterprises, it would seem that the playing field is becoming more level than ever. Still, female entrepreneurs and business owners continue to face unique challenges, and there are federal programs in place that can help them overcome the hurdles to success.

But other organizations may be able to help as well. For more information on these organizations and others, check out these woman-owned business resources.

Minority-Owned Businesses

Starting a small business often feels like an uphill battle, and many minority business owners face a unique set of challenges. Among these are a heavier-than-average reliance on financial institutions for loans, and terms that are oftentimes burdensome for new businesses*. In-depth studies, like a recent report on Denver Public Schools*, have found MBEs are underrepresented in public contracts, the lack of which can stifle growth. Thankfully, assistance is available to these enterprising entrepreneurs, and it’s often close to home.

For in-depth information about these organizations and how you can take advantage of them, check out these minority-owned business resources.

Veteran-Owned Businesses

As a veteran business owner, you have a variety of resources available to you.

Find resources, like podcasts, webinars and in-person events, on our Veteran resources page.

HUGE List of Corporate Supplier Diversity Programs

Looking to get into a corporate supplier program? This is the place to start. Below we’ve compiled contact pages for supplier diversity programs for the Fortune 500.



























Featured photo credit: eric_urquhart, Twenty20