Originally published by LeNaya Crandall Hezel on NayceQuest LLC’s blog September 27, 2021.
“Birds of a Feather”
In an audience full of impact leaders, a panel moderator calls out a select group of individuals in the audience as “experts in the industry.” At first glance, it seems like a way to build connections in the room and highlight the work colleagues in the field to reference after the panel discussion. But what if the moderator only highlights who they know in their own personal network or makes snap judgments of what an impact looks like? Or what if the moderator highlights members of a specific identity-based demographic? Entrepreneurs and industry leaders are constantly reminded of the importance of networking to collectively solve societal issues. Suppose we were to use the opening scene in the context of networking. In that case, I question who is being left out of the discussion to connect people and ideas equitably and inclusively.
Learn About NayceQuest LLC
NayceQuest LLC is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion firm led by fearless military spouse LeNaya.
Why I Got Certified
Recently, NayceQuest LLC was certified as a Small, Women and Minority-Owned (SWaM) Business through the Commonwealth of Virginia and a Military Spouse Owned Enterprise through Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce. Despite Naycequest’s public launch less than a year ago, receiving these certifications was a transformational reminder of the importance of why identity-based owned certifications matter.
I’ve been on the receiving end of skeptics criticizing identity-based certifications for promoting division in the business community instead of bringing organizations together. I’ve also been told that access to business resources should be based on merit, not because of race, gender, or military-connection status. Hearing these comments did not stop me from applying, especially when allies in the entrepreneurship community encouraged me to seek these certifications.
The Reason Certifications Exist
Say it louder for the people in the back.
Level the Playing Field
As long as the business playing field has practices that implicitly and explicitly overlook and undervalue underrepresented business owners, identity-based certifications matter. It is important to note that this need for identity-based certifications does not come from a deficit model. In other words, these certifications are not a hand-out or a stepping stool. Instead, identity-based certifications promote networks of our assets and strengths to validate to our peers and to ourselves that we deserve to be on the playing field too.
Thank you to the group of allies and family who are a part of my identity-based network for getting me to where I am today. NayceQuest wouldn’t be here without you, and I am forever grateful. Now let’s go make some impacts that move our words into action!