Women's History Month 2023
About Women's History Month
Taking place each year in March, Women’s History Month is a valuable chance to spotlight the significant contributions of women to modern society. Women’s History Month has been observed nationally since 1987, with smaller-scale celebrations dating back an additional ten years. Around 13 million women-owned businesses sell quality goods and services in all 50 states, with $2.8 trillion in economic impact nationwide. Women entrepreneurs represent nearly half of all business owners across the country, with 42% of all businesses owned by women!
Women-Owned Certified LGBTBE® Suppliers
Dually Certified LGBTBE® & WBE Suppliers
of businesses nationwide are women-owned
About WBENC Certification
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive. WBENC was founded in 1997 to develop a nationwide standard for women-owned business certification. WBENC believes diversity promotes innovation, opens doors, and creates partnerships that fuel the economy. That’s why they not only provide the most relied upon certification standard for women-owned businesses, but they also offer the tools to help them succeed.
Resources for Women-Owned Businesses
WBENC Certification validates that a business is at least 51 percent owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. This means one or more women must have unrestricted control of the business, a demonstrated management of day-to-day operations, and a proportionate investment of capital or expertise. WBENC Certification is considered the gold standard for women-owned business certification and is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations, in addition to some states, cities, and other entities. Once certified, women-owned businesses are designated as WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprises, or commonly referred to as WBEs.
Through certification, women-owned businesses gain access to a vast network of support, including targeted business opportunities for certified women-owned firms, increased visibility in corporate and government supply chains, education and development programs to spur growth and increase capacity, and networking and mentorship opportunities with thousands of women entrepreneurs and those who support them.
Click here for more information on WBENC certification.
- March 3: GLWBC Communications Intelligence | Momentum Bootcamp!
- March 3: NextGen | Business Owner’s Guide to WBENC National Conference
- March 7: 2023 WBENC National Conference VIRTUAL Orientation | WBEs
- March 15: WBECWest │ LEVERAGING MY WBENC CERTIFICATION
- March 17: WBEC-East | How to Get Certified
- March 20-23: 2023 WBENC National Conference
- In 2023, attend the largest conference of its kind for women-owned businesses and join thousands of members of our network in person!
Click here to view more upcoming events.
Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) is a national nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs—strengthening their impact on our nation’s public policy, creating economic opportunities, and forging alliances with other business organizations.
WIPP educates women business owners on economic policy and current legislative initiatives that impact business health and growth. Through its programming, they learn the tools necessary to become advocates on issues that cover a broad range of current legislation and policies, such as affordable health care, federal procurement policies, tax policies, energy, telecom, etc. Matters which are not directly relevant to the economic health and well-being of constituent businesses are not part of WIPP’s agenda. Its Government Relations team has a full-time presence on Capitol Hill and conveys the direction and intent of WIPP’s membership to members of Congress.
Upcoming events include:
- March 2: WIPP Member Advocacy Training – Part 1
- March 13: WIPP PRO Table Talk
- March 30: ChallengeHER Webinar: Status of WOSB
- In honor of Women’s History Month, this month’s ChallengeHER Webinar features a conversation with Alisa Sheard; WOSB Federal Contract Program Director; Deputy Director, Office of Government Contracting, U.S. Small Business Administration. Sheard will discuss the state of the WOSB Set Aside program and to answer any questions you might have. This conversation is moderated by Candace Waterman President / CEO, Women Impacting Public Policy. If you have questions you would like to have answered on this chat, please email [email protected]
- April 27: ChallengeHER: Researching the Government-Who Buys What I Sell?
- The federal government is a huge entity making it impractical to prospect all buying Agencies and Departments. The important key is to find the Agencies who buy the goods and services you sell. How do you find those Agencies? What are the nuances of the data Join us with our special guest Lisa Wood, Statewide Director, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, as she walks through the process of researching the various government databases to discover those agencies that purchase your products and services.
WEConnect International is a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world. WEConnect International connects member buyers to women-owned sellers globally, enhances their capabilities to transact business and instills confidence that sellers meet buyers’ standards for women-owned businesses.
Member buyers want to do more business with women-owned businesses and they created WEConnect International as a certifying body. The four criteria considered for WBE certification by WEConnect International are ownership, management, control and independence. Businesses that meet the criteria are determined to be at least 51% owned, as well as managed and controlled by one or more women. The WEConnect International Seal of Certification Process is open to businesses in 50 countries.
Click here for more information on WEConnect International certification.
Source: WEConnect International
SBA helps women entrepreneurs launch new businesses and compete in the marketplace. Connect with the training and funding opportunities specifically for women.
The Office of Women’s Business Ownership’s mission is to enable and empower women entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education and support.
The National Women’s Business Council is a non-partisan federal advisory committee serving as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the President, the U.S. Congress (to the Committees on Small Business of the Senate and House of Representatives), and to the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (through the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership) on issues of importance to women business owners and entrepreneurs.
Find grant announcements and other important documents that help to build and grow women-owned businesses through the Women’s Business Centers portal.
Spotlighting LGBTQ- & Women-Owned Businesses
By Sarah Jester
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month, an opportunity to honor and uplift women’s accomplishments and voices. Many of NGLCC’s Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® (Certified LGBTBE®) suppliers are jointly certified as women-owned through our partner organization WBENC, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. These LGBT- and women-owned businesses are leading the way in their respective fields, setting precedents for entrepreneurs across the nation. We spoke to nine woman-owned Certified LGBTBE® suppliers about their entrepreneurial journeys, their involvement with NGLCC, and the importance of highlighting LGBT women in business.
Cardinal Counseling Services, PLLC | Founded by Rachel Pinto (she/they)
Cardinal Counseling Services, PLLC is an outpatient psychotherapy clinic located in downtown North Little Rock, Arkansas. Offering individual, couple, family and group therapy, Pinto has utilized a tool in her practice called the Partners for Change Outcome Management System (PCOMS) to help Cardinal Counseling Services stand out and better serve its clients.
“[PCOMS ensures] that the very DNA of the clinic will always do two things — center the client’s voice in therapy and keep us focused on the client’s goals,” she explained. “Additionally, the ability we have to market ourselves as an outpatient mental health clinic BY queer people and FOR queer people makes us quite unique here in the good old Bible Belt!”
Pinto told us that being a Certified LGBTBE® has helped to set the counseling clinic apart as an LGBTQ+ focused treatment center, as well as helping marginalized folks in the area to more easily find healthcare that acknowledges and supports their respective identities.
“Being a member of the NGLCC has given me that supportive community as well – that, in fact, entrepreneurs and business owners CAN look like me!” they said.
Pinto says that being an LGBT woman entrepreneur means that they are bringing their own chair to the table, having started Cardinal Counseling after many years worked in many other jobs.
“Ultimately, I was able to admit that I didn’t need anybody else’s permission to birth the workplace culture I longed for,” she concluded.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn: @cardinalcounselingar
dozanü innovations, llc. | Co-founded by Katherine Lees (she/her) and Michelle Lapides (she/her)
dozanü innovations is a cutting-edge marketing and strategic firm that delivers intelligent solutions to clients ranging from small businesses to large corporations. dozanü focuses on five key services when working with clients, namely digital marketing, creative marketing, social media, strategic campaigning, and business development.
“We are poised to be the leading BX Design™ Team specializing in alternative perspectives delivering innovative, accessibility-minded modern marketing and business strategies that focus on inclusion,” explained Lees.
A leader in the Deaf and hard of hearing business community, dozanü prioritizes accessibility, inclusivity, and authentic representation of folks and their disabilities in their marketing work. As two Deaf women, Lees and Lapides are defeating the ableist misconception that Deaf individuals cannot compete with businesses led by hearing individuals. They are also broadening the scope of marketing materials to be more accessible to individuals that cannot always be reached by so-called “traditional” marketing.
“Traditional marketing may rely on the auditory deployment of information in English, which means that information only appeals to people who both speak English and can hear,” Lees said. “But if we deploy the same message in a video format that has an English voice-over, a person signing in American Sign Language (ASL), and using visual cues/graphics on the video, this marketing appeals to those who speak English, those who can’t hear and use Sign Language, and those who have limited English proficiency or learned English as a second language.”
Lees explained that dozanü innovations was established with the ultimate goal of being the “go-to” agency for serving marginalized communities and bridging the gap between the current corporate landscape and the accessibility that is needed in order to serve all people in an equitable way. This closely reflects NGLCC’s mission of diversity, equity, inclusion, & intersectionality as the organization works to bring LGBT business owners together and fight for a seat at the table for them.
“The resources that we have access to [through NGLCC] are invaluable, the opportunities that are presented to us for our taking can make a huge change for businesses, and the community that we know we’re a part of, makes us stronger, and even a bit more daring,” said Lees. “When we understand the power of numbers, such as what we saw at the Stonewall riot, we know that when we all collectively try and band together the entrepreneur journey is a meaningful one.”
HD Structural Co. | Founded by Halle Doenitz (she/her)
Based in Los Angeles, HD Structural Co. provides structural consulting engineering services for architects, owners, developers, and contractors. Offering services ranging from design inception through construction completion, HD Structural brings a breadth of knowledge and experience with materials such as reinforced concrete, post-tensioned concrete, structural steel, light-gage steel framing, masonry, and wood structures to each of their projects.
“The field of structural engineering is very male-dominated, so we definitely stand out as unique as a woman-owned business, and even more so being LGBT-owned in this industry,” explained Doenitz. “I became a Certified LGBTBE® because I’m an out and proud business owner and advocate and want to increase visibility for my community. There are very few LGBT owned structural engineering consulting firms nationwide and it’s so important for our community to be represented in this industry.”
HD Structural Co. further distinguishes itself through a series of notable and complex projects bearing its name. This includes Los Angeles’ George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which is expected to open next year.
Doenitz told us that as an engineering student, she lacked role models in the LGBT engineering and business community due to their lack of visibility. Now, as a successful female engineer and LGBT entrepreneur, she prioritizes openness about her identity in the workplace and on the jobsite, setting an inspiring example for young LGBT women and aspiring engineers.
“Visibility and representation matters, both for my LGBTQ+ community and other underrepresented minorities within our architecture/engineering/construction industry,” she said. “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goes beyond mere tolerance and acceptance, it is about being respected and valued for my unique perspectives, experiences, and who I am as a human being.”
Violet PR | Founded by April Mason (she/her)
Violet PR is a boutique public relations firm located in Montclair, New Jersey. Focusing primarily on economic development, real estate, and social good, founder April Mason helps clients to develop compelling content and attract a supportive audience. As a boutique firm, Violet PR offers individualized attention and customized services to each client.
“We actively seek out clients that are making places better and work with a lot of government entities, nonprofit agencies and small businesses in the real estate, architecture and engineering space,” Mason said.
Violet PR has set the bar high for other PR firms, having won over 30 national and regional awards for excellence over the last several years. Last year, Mason became a member of the NGLCC in order to expand her professional network and connect with other queer entrepreneurs.
“I came out later in life at age 41, and perhaps as a result, it’s extremely important to me to get connected with the LGBTQ+ community in my professional and personal life,” she told us. “I have some catching up to do!”
As a queer woman, Mason is proud to bring a multifaceted perspective to the work that Violet PR completes for clients. With many companies in the industry being run by straight men, she has set out to become a role model for young women looking to become entrepreneurs in the future. Prior to starting her firm, Mason had only worked for companies run by white, straight men, and has elected to change that industry trend by promoting and prioritizing female CEOs and executives through her work. Violet PR is also involved with LGBTQ+ work both inside and outside of their home base.
“I’m particularly excited that this year, we’ll be promoting the state of Kansas’ first Pride celebration on the steps of the capitol building as part of our work for the city of Topeka,” Mason said. “I also have clients that want to attract diverse talent – including LGBTQ+ professionals – and I’m glad to be in a position where I can help them.”
FIC Human Resource Partners | Founded by Jessi Purdy (she/her)
FIC Human Resource Partners is a consulting firm dedicated to fostering inclusive cultures of belonging through policy, training, and discussion. Offering services ranging from policy creation, DEI workshops, and LGBTQ+ and transgender focused consulting, founder Jessi Purdy brings her full self to work each day with pride.
“My identity as a panromantic, asexual, trans woman is central to the work that I do,” she explained. “It is my lived experience, both professional and personal, that led me to begin FIC Human Resource Partners and work to foster inclusive cultures of belonging.”
Purdy has developed a dynamic business model focused on prioritizing collaborative partnerships. FIC Human Resource Partners frequently partners with subject matter experts across a variety of topics to expand customized offerings to their clients and ensure that the correct voices are present for certain conversations.
“While we are the lead partner for some projects, we are the supporting partner in others,” she said. “This collaborative partnership model allows us to place the mission above the ego.”
Purdy joined the NGLCC to further her entrepreneurial career and to open up contracting and procurement opportunities for her business.
“The LGBTBE certification is a badge that clearly lets prospective clients know that we are an LGBTQ+ owned business, and…it helps open up doors to corporate and government clients that we might not otherwise connect with,” Purdy explained.
Purdy had powerful words to offer when asked what being an LGBTQ+ woman entrepreneur meant to her, stating that it meant having full control over her destiny and the ability to do the work that needs to be done in the ways it needs to be done.
Florida Pure Sea Salt | Founded by Maureen Cacioppo (she/her)
Florida Pure Sea Salt was born from a longing to help people slow down, come together, and enjoy every bite and cocktail they share, as told by founder Maureen Cacioppo.
“Our ingredients are crafted with that same love, care, and intention,” she explained. “Food is a thread that connects us all and salt is a lasting part of making our food experiences outstanding.”
Boasting 17 different infused salts ranging from flavors like egan-friendly maple bacon, lime, rosemary, butcher block black pepper, and black garlic, Florida Pure Sea Salt prioritizes high quality ingredients and utilizing clean water while still doing their part to protect the waterways. Each type of salt is made in small batches, with some completing the process in 3 days and others taking up to 2 months to create.
“We seek to cultivate togetherness through the creation of memorable meals for food-lovers to share with their closest friends and family,” Cacioppo said.
Cacioppo joined the NGLCC to utilize services from and connect with like-minded businesses, as well as to attend the organization’s events.
“I’ve been able to grow my skills in public speaking through their pitch events and have also been featured in speaking opportunities to share more about our business,” she said.
What does it mean to Cacioppo to be an LGBT woman entrepreneur?
“It means I work hard to create a team of diverse people who appreciate and respect people’s differences. It means that I’m intentional with who we partner with. It means I sometimes struggle with sharing my life with the public even though it’s become an expectation of small business owners so people can connect to the brand. It means that I have to work very hard in keeping the balance between work and life. It means I’ve had to learn that in order to be the best for my family and teammates, I have to first be the best for myself. It means I have a tremendous amount of responsibility on my shoulders to make the best decisions because they affect my entire team and their lives. It means we have fewer funding opportunities. It means I have an opportunity to mentor the new wave of LGBT woman entrepreneurs and others. It means that there are many similarities in struggles and triumphs with all entrepreneurs. It means I’m proud of who I am, those who have put in great work before me, and where we are going.”
Robinson Law | Founded by Cristal Robinson (she/her/hers)
Robinson Law is a disability & discrimination firm focused on diversity & civil rights in education and business ownership. Through the firm, founder Cristal Robinson offers a variety of services ranging from Educational Law, Special Education Advocacy, Entrepreneurship Law, Business Consulting, Estate Planning Law, Employment Law, Election Law, Campaign Consulting, Mediation, & Collaborative Law.
“I’m a neurodivergent business owner with family who are too,” said Robinson. “It brings representation to my clients and other younger people to show that they can also do it.”
Under Robinson’s guidance, the firm focuses on helping neurodivergent and queer individuals. Robinson’s firm is paperless, virtual, and mobile, and has been since before the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing her to serve clients across the country with ease. As a seasoned attorney, business owner, and educator, she is passionate about advancing the rights of neurodivergent and LGBTQ+ people and business owners.
To Robinson, being a successful LGBT woman in business means that she can bring quality representation to all of her clients, as well as setting an example for younger folks that want to follow in her entrepreneurial footsteps.
“I am OUT as an autistic, neurodivergent, queer, mom who owns a law firm,” she said. “Being out has helped me bond with my teen and young adult clients.”
Robinson says that outside of the office,she enjoys watching her autistic son experience life, growing older with her autistic spouse, and figuring out her true self as a late in life diagnosed autistic professional.
Instagram, Facebook, & LinkedIn: @CristalRobinsonLaw
J Squared Communications | Founded by Jessica Reveles (she/her/ella)
J Squared Communications is a full service digital marketing agency. Under the supervision of entrepreneur Jessica Reveles, J Squared Communications has customized content creation offerings ranging from social media, blogging, email marketing, website design and development, and SEO. The agency prioritizes and specializes in serving marginalized businesses through inclusive, diverse, and culturally relevant marketing.
“Our mission is to serve and support women, LGBTQ and BIPOC owned businesses through leveraging content marketing to help businesses increase their online visibility and attract ideal clients,” said Reveles.
Reveles certified her business through NGLCC to attain the added credibility of being vetted experts and also supportive advocates for the LGBTQ community. As she explained, many of J Squared Communications’ clients fit into “multiple buckets” of the populations they serve, identifying as people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and more.
“Being a Certified LGBTBE® through the NGLCC is a source of great pride for me as the owner and CEO at the helm of the company, and for our diverse staff as well,” Reveles said. “Additionally, being an LGBTQ woman of color and a certified representative of the community puts me in a position where I have the opportunity and really the responsibility to promote diversity, equity and inclusion through our actual content—visually through the photos we select for various campaigns, audio-visually and with multimedia, and through copywriting.”
Reveles has undergone an intensely challenging, incomparable journey to reach the present day. Having started her business from a homeless shelter with her seven-year-old son by her side, she worked countless jobs until she was able to rent office space years later. She has since grown from a freelance social media manager, to a small business owner, and now to an immensely successful CEO. Together, she and her team produce a variety of award-winning work for a large number of clients.
Reveles is proud to be out as an LGBTQ woman entrepreneur following years in the closet.
“When I met my best adult friend, another gay woman entrepreneur, I learned to love myself and came into my own,” she explained. “I went through a long, hard and painful journey—but now I’m here and actually leveraging my LGBTQ identify to help promote others’ businesses who are part of underserved and underrepresented populations.”
The Changists | Founded by Cheralyn Stevenson (she/her/hers)
Founded in 2020, The Changists aids lawyers and law firms in modernizing and digitally transforming their practice and workplace. Founder Cheralyn Stevenson’s aspiration is to help lawyers succeed by merging the worlds of law and business, which is accomplished through their offerings of advisory support, vendor selection, IT project management, training, outsourced legal billing, virtual chief operations officer, new talent recruiting, and law firm set up.
“Our vision for The Changists is to help lawyers by being better at the business side of running their firms,” said Stevenson. “We want to help create intentional and purposeful change in the law industry, help build future business leaders, and play a part of growing diverse firms.”
The Changists obtained LGBTBE certification to join the NGLCC network and build connections with LGBT businesses, entrepreneurs, and supplier diversity thought leaders.
“Becoming certified as an LGBTQ+-owned business meant so much to us and the team at The Changists because so much of our work is informed by who we are,” Stevenson said. “When we give our services to other business leaders, we love to know that they’re going to help and give back to communities like ours and that reflect us, whether its to women, to people of color, or to the LGBTQ+ community.”
Stevenson is proud to be a successful entrepreneur and business leader and still authentically be who she is – an LGBT woman. She founded The Changists with her wife, Stacey. To Stevenson, being out as a business owner “means that we will be able to give back to communities we understand and identify with. If we can support a lawyer who would serve people in the LGBTQ+ community, knowing we contributed to that, is the most important thing to me as an LGBT woman entrepreneur.”
Visit our social channels to stay up to date on the NGLCC Certified Spotlight, a way for you to hear directly from trailblazing LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs about their businesses and other trending topics in the queer business community! Click below to hear more from LGBTQ+ women in business that have shared their stories on NGLCC’s platforms.
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