This year we decided to do something different, profiling a SDMWVLGBTBE (Small Disadvantaged or Disabled, Minority, Women, Veteran, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered Business Enterprise) every couple of months. Samantha Smith interviews potential businesses, so email us with a request to be included — no, you don’t have to be a GetDiversityCertified.com client. First up, in honor of WBENC’s National Conference – Coach Monique and Associates.
“It’s like I found my tribe.”
When I ask Coach Monique DeMonaco about her experience with Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest third-party certifier of women owned businesses, this is the common theme. Community. An association full of women helping women improve their business. She gets in touch with WBENC members to network and socialize. Each time, she notes, there is an ease about their interactions, free of hesitancy or shame. “Everyone here is a woman with a business,” she says. “We’re here to make money—to help each other.” Again, there is a note of joy. I found my tribe.
Coach DeMonaco went through the diversity certification process a little over two years ago after hearing about it from a friend. She owns a coaching practice, Coach Monique & Associates, which specializes in emotional intelligence, executive training, and Rapid Transformational Hypnotherapy. She was certified as an emotional intelligence coach in 2007 and has been practicing in some capacity for over 15 years. Trusting her friend’s recommendation, Coach Monique decided to follow up and get in contact with GetDiversityCertified. All at once, she was introduced to the lists upon lists of certifiers.
“It was a laborious process,” she tells me, lasting nine months to complete. I nearly fall off my chair. Nine months. The re-certification application alone includes an eight-page form and enough supporting documents to stack an inch and a half off the ground. “I have two weak points,” she confesses. “Technology and paperwork.” Luckily, she had help from the GetDiversityCertified.com team, who guided her through the process step-by-step. “If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have gone through with it,” she laughs. The first time through, her application returned with 15 issues, which is apparently a low number compared to what could happen in a worst-case scenario.
Why is the process so involved? The answer is simple: To prevent fraud. But diversity certification is no golden ticket. There is no guarantee that certifying your business will get you more contracts or business. Nor should certification be treated as a be-all-end-all for transparent business practices. Its like a driver’s license … you don’t get a car, just a license to drive one on the road. It’s true, having a diversity certification meets many businesses’ requirement for supplier diversity. You have access to companies that you maybe didn’t before, but it’s up to you to be competitive. When I asked Coach Monique how certification changed her business, she explained in two words: Networking and Marketing.
“Before I was certified, there was a certain amount of chasing I had to do. You had to go in as a stranger and introduce yourself,” she laughs. “Now they’re looking for me just as I’m looking for them.” In her experience, she finds the most opportunity among WBENC members. There is a calendar of events for WBENC members seeking an opportunity to network, including the MatchMaker Series and NextGen, a network designed for millennial women. In terms of marketing, she attaches the certification everywhere she can to get the information out there. Besides the supplier diversity standards, there are other companies that are simply comforted by the fact that they’re working with a diversity certified organization. “There are some that absolutely have to spend money on a diverse business, but some people are more simply more inclined,” Coach DeMonaco tells me. Corporate culture is changing with the rest of us. We all want to be more aware of our impact on others.
To learn more about Coach Monique and her services, please visit her website.