Region/Countries: Canada, North America Industry: Multiple Sectors Date: March 2017

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Canadian certification bodies recognize their U.S. counterparts' equivalent certifications.

Supplier diversity is a business practice that encourages the use of businesses owned by members of historically underrepresented groups in a company’s or government’s supply chain, including minority-owned, women-owned, aboriginal-owned, LGBT-owned, and veteran-owned vendors. It represents an effort by corporations to ensure they are being inclusive in their supply chain practices, while at the same time capitalizing on the opportunity for competitive advantage and community engagement that comes from working closely with a diverse range of suppliers.

A growing number of Canadian companies are championing supplier diversity, both for their own interests and as a national imperative to enhance the economic participation of traditionally underutilized businesses. Although supplier diversity is not as well known in Canada as it is in the U.S., and Canada does not have laws on the books to encourage implementation, momentum exists, with advocates committed to developing it. Since corporations are typically such huge consumers, they normally buy from large multi-billion dollar suppliers, which doesn’t fit the positioning of most diverse suppliers. Some corporations recognize that in order to effectively boost supplier diversity, they need to incentivize tier 1 and 2 suppliers. To this end, programs are in place that set supplier diversity quotas for tier 1 and 2 suppliers, and results are measured via tracking and reporting, with tier 1 and 2 reporting an integral part of their supplier diversity programs. In addition, when contracts are put out to tender, not only are points awarded to certified diverse suppliers, but oftentimes, points are awarded to potential tier 1 and 2 suppliers with robust and trackable supplier diversity programs of their own.

How does this potentially boost exports for Wisconsin companies? If a Wisconsin company is a certified diverse supplier in any one of three categories, those certification credentials are transferable to Canadian certification bodies, meaning certification applies to Canadian opportunities just as it would within the U.S.

Canadian certification councils that recognize U.S. counterpart certifications:

  1. Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) ( - CAMSC certifies businesses that are at least 51 percent owned, managed and controlled by aboriginal peoples and/or visible minorities, and provide the products/services outlined in their supplier profile. For the purpose of CAMSC Certification, visible minority status is based on ethnic origin and not gender. The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) ( recognizes and accepts the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC)'s certification credentials of Canadian aboriginal and visible minority suppliers and, in turn, CAMSC also grants the same privileges to minority business enterprises certified by NMSDC.
  2. WBE Canada ( - WBE Canada certifies majority-owned, managed and controlled women’s businesses and facilitates opportunities for them to meet buyers and get access to bids for corporate contracts as part of supplier diversity programs. The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) ( recognizes WBE Canada certification and vice versa.
  3. Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) ( is a national, nonprofit industry association committed to forming a broad-based coalition representative of the various interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, queer, two-spirited and intersex (LGBT) owned businesses, allied businesses, corporations, professionals and students of business. It certifies enterprises that are at least 51 percent LGBT-owned and -operated. The CGLCC recognizes certified members of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) ( The Supplier Diversity Alliance Canada (SDAC) was recently formed by the above three organizations to help boost awareness and increase procurement opportunities for diverse suppliers in Canada.

Unfortunately, unlike in the U.S., Canada has no certification organization for veteran-owned enterprises.