Diversity Dialogue Broadening Business Perspectives

Why Your Firm Should Be Partnering with a WBENC-Certified Business

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are hot topics these days, and that likely has you looking at ways your firm can improve upon its D&I efforts.

Felice Solomon

An often overlooked opportunity is partnering with a business certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). I’ll outline not only the certification process businesses go through to receive this, but also discuss some of the benefits companies can take advantage of when they partner with a WBENC-certified business.

I’ve worked in the staffing industry for over 20 years, and I can tell you that a wholly women-owned and operated business is rare. I learned about the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and immediately found the value in becoming certified by this nonprofit. (It’s a third-party certifier for the Women-Owned Small Businesses Federal Contracting Program through the U.S. Small Business Administration.)

“With many companies’ legal departments and boards facing calls to diversify, the expectations for their partners to do the same has increased.”

Founded in 1997, WBENC is the largest third-party certifier dedicated to helping expand business opportunities for women entrepreneurs by offering a nationally recognized certification for businesses owned, controlled and operated by women in the United States. In addition to certification, WBENC offers a wealth of resources to its members, including pitch opportunities, educational programming and access to over 300 of the nation’s largest and most successful corporations.

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Solomon Search Group is part of this organization, which allows us to offer our clients unique benefits only available to those that partner with a WBENC-certified business. Here are a few.

1. Tax incentives: The federal government passed the first laws offering legislative provisions encouraging using minority-owned and/or women-owned business. Through the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the government is able to provide tax incentives for using these businesses, including offering reduced tax liabilities for projects funded with federal or state grants or loans when the supplier is a women-owned business. A WBENC-certified business can provide you with its certification information for your tax purposes.

2. Furthering diversity and inclusion goals: With many companies’ legal departments and boards facing calls to diversify, the expectations for their partners to do the same has increased. NASDAQ is looking to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to approve a new diversity disclosure rule, and many legal departments now need to abide by the Mansfield Rule to boost the representation of diverse lawyers in law firm leadership — it’s no surprise that D&I is at the forefront of yearly growth initiatives. Partnering with a WBENC-certified business accomplishes this goal and complements the internal diversity efforts your company is implementing.

3. Supporting the continued growth of minority-owned small businesses: Your support showcases your company’s commitment to working in diverse markets. We are among the fastest-growing sectors of our economy, thus positioning your company favorably to open new channels of revenue. As an ally, a partnership with a minority-owned business directly promotes innovation and creativity across industries.

The process to become WBENC-certified is extensive and many times takes upward of a year or longer from start to finish. With an equally intensive recertification process, you can trust that businesses certified by WBENC maintain the highest standards of business operations.