KITCHENER -- A new program in Waterloo Region is helping businesses tell their staff and customers that anyone is welcome inside.

Pride Certified lets businesses register as pride-friendly spaces.

Founder Dani Bazely started working on the idea years ago.

"Something that I would constantly get asked, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, is 'How do I tell people that I am a safe space for people to come to?'" She said.

So, she created a list of safe spaces in the region.

"We're going to create a model system which will help educate the leaders and managers of the organization, who will then teach their employees," Bazely said.

The process starts, simply, by signing up online.  Businesses on the registry will need to follow certain standards to stay on the list.

Stephanie Soulis has already registered her catering company with the group.

"I got in right away," she said.

Other local companies are following.

Jamie Pritchard said the decision to register his personal protective equipment supply company was very personal.

"My son is trans," Pritchard said. "They've had a struggle over the years of being accepted and working in the community."

Soulis said she plans to share her pride certification when she's hiring, so potential staff know it's a safe space.

"There will be a window decal. You'll see our Pride Certified logo in these businesses", says Bazely.  "We want them to truly learn and adapt and incorporate those policies from a top-down mentality."