<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=172201676667353&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Supplier Diversity Blog by supplier.io

What’s the Difference Between Classified and Certified Suppliers?

Confused? You’re not alone, and you won’t be anymore. We compiled a list of the 5 most FAQs as it pertains to supplier classification and supplier certification. Check out the answers below…

Q: What’s the Definition of a Diverse Supplier?

A: A supplier that is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a person of diverse background (i.e. Minority, Woman, Veteran, etc.). Important to note that when determining whether a supplier is diverse or not, this is the only qualifying measure and does not include the percentage of a diverse workforce. If they fit in the qualifying criteria, they can be labelled as a classified diverse supplier. 

Q:  Who are Certified Diverse Suppliers?

A: This is a supplier with at least 51% ownership, who is operated and controlled by a person with a diverse background (same as above) and has gone through a certification process by a third party agency to confirm eligibility for diversity certification.

Q: Why Should You Require a Supplier To Be Certified?

A: While you can accept and measure your classified diverse suppliers, it has potential limitations you need to be aware of.  First, most state contracts require using only certified diverse suppliers. Second, if you report your spend to any other organizations, most corporations only accept 3rd party certified suppliers. Third, if you are a public company you must disclose business information, and measuring certified suppliers gives you the most accurate diverse spend.

Ultimately, it’s a best practice to require your suppliers to be certified when you’re starting a supplier diversity program, as it won’t handcuff you later as you expand.

Follow These Six Steps to Get Your Supplier Diversity Program Off the Ground »

Q: Where Can a Supplier Become Certified?

A: There are several third-party agencies such as Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) that offer national certifications. Also, local, state and city agencies offer programs to certify a diverse business. Suppliers can and may need to be certified through multiple different agencies depending on the contract and/or company they are looking to do business with. If you have or are trying to win a state or government contract, for instance, they most likely will require certification with that local agency.

Q: What’s the process to get certified?

A: Once a diverse supplier has researched which agencies they need and want to be certified with, they will submit their custom application (which can be found on the agencies local sites) along with any required documentation.  Typically there are fees associated with becoming certified, and again all this information can be found on their sites locally. Once the application has been received, there is a review process which also often consists of an on-site visit to confirm ownership status. After their ownership is confirmed they will be officially certified diverse suppliers.  

Certified diverse suppliers are waiting to be discovered. The next step for you is to find them. Click here to check out technology that can help you locate suppliers.   


Subscribe to Our Blog



The team has a long history in driving innovative solutions in supplier diversity. We believe that companies deserve solutions that are effective and provide measurable value and results. Started more than a decade ago, supplier.io has rapidly become a prominent provider of supplier diversity solutions to leading corporations. We currently support customers in automotive, healthcare, insurance, retail, manufacturing, education, and banking. One in five Fortune 50 company relies on supplier.io.