By Michelle Burkart | #LGBTB2B
Just like the weather is heating up so are the opportunities for LGBT businesses to become certified with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Back in November 2016, the law passed by the California Legislature, AB 1678, required a mandated amount spent for contracting with LGBT-certified businesses by the CPUC and its affiliates. We now have a directory of 128 LGBTBE businesses registered with the CPUC, and some from as far away as Kansas, and Maryland. And it is free! The Clearinghouse LGBT directory link is as follows: bit.ly/2M5PKqX.
Since August is always the annual convention month for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the enthusiasm is as high as the temperatures in San Diego with more than 1,200 business and corporate representatives attending the sold-out event. Recently, the San Francisco utility, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), received a huge multimillion dollar contract to expand its network and this contract falls under the CPUC mandate to spend with LGBTBE businesses. So, despite what is happening in Washington D.C., the business community understands the power of our economic impact.
In order to apply with the CPUC, go to this link cpuc.ca.gov/supplierdiversity to understand how they can help you. You can become not only LGBT-certified but also women-owned, minority-owned, and disabled veteran-owned. Stephanie Greene is the CPUC contact in the executive division and has been very supportive of this LGBT program since its inception in November 2016.
CPUC Utilities Supplier Diversity Program
Their program monitors supplier diversity in procurements by participating utilities and oversees a clearinghouse of women; minority; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT); and disabled veteran-owned business enterprises.
Their clearinghouse operator verifies the status of firms seeking certification as women, minority and/or LGBT-owned. Disabled veteran-owned businesses are certified by the Office of Small Business & Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Services (OSDS), a unit of the Department of General Services. View the most recent update to the public version of our supplier database.
There are resources as to what companies are participating in the various affiliate categories such as transportation, water department, telecommunications. All of these companies must comply with the mandate as well. The site shows you how to apply, the supplier database per category (i.e. LGBTBE vendors), doing business with investor owned utilities, contracting opportunities, and other resources to help your company compete.
There are also new programs that are available for LGBTBE certification and contracting opportunities. Last year, the San Diego & Imperial Valley SBDC Network provided a $50,000 grant to assist LGBT business to get certified and training workshops to be successful. This year, Diversity Supplier Alliance (DSA) has been contracted to continue the Let’s Work It! Training Institute with a $100,000 grant. This will provide free business consulting, and training workshops in four concise six-week program starting Oct. 1. At the end of the session, you will be certified, trained, and market ready to do business as an LGBTBE-certified supplier. DSA will be working with only 25 businesses per session so you will need apply to register now! This is a $3,000 program value at no charge to you! If you are already LGBTBE-certified but want to take advantage of the consulting and training programs, you can also apply for the sessions.
The second program is being sponsored by Caltrans for businesses that are Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)-certified as well. This is a $1.2 million investment in helping small businesses expand their contracting opportunities. So if you are a LGBT business and are DBE-eligible, then take advantage of these opportunities to grow your business. For more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A third program is right here in San Diego as the San Diego Airport Authority is developing an expanded diversity supplier program to include LGBTBE businesses. As you can see, the opportunities for LGBTBE to compete in corporate supplier diversity programs, as well as government contracting programs, are hot and rising just like the weather. The time is now to get your business certified in as many categories as possible. And since LGBT is a part of every diversity group…we have tremendous growth potential so do not be left behind. Our economic impact is the greatest form of power we have to be heard so get on board!
— Michelle Burkart is the principal at Diversity Supplier Alliance. Questions? Reach her at email@example.com. For more information on LGBTBE certification, visit diversitysupplieralliance.com.