For minority and women supplier diversity business entrepreneurs

I have a grave concern that has been nagging at me for many years. It was brought front and center for me again recently when I attended the membership meeting of a local organization which advocates on behalf of its minority businesses in the state. I was at this particular meeting at the invitation of the leadership and also, their guest speaker was one I really wanted to hear from and meet. His organization is embarking on a major project that is expected to bring many jobs and more business to the region.

In the room were a handful of member corporations, a couple of newly-minted minority business members and a few active members, some of which I knew well. While I was late to the meeting, it soon became evident that I was just in time. The discussion had turned to the concerns of the leadership that too many of the recent bid opportunities preclude the ability of smaller operations from participating. The point is very valid given the current climate of “supplier rationalization” as discussed by our Real Talk guest, Todd Gray.

But that is a topic for another time. What caught my attention was the other elephant in the room, or not in the room—members. Where were the minority businesses? It’s not the first time I’ve witnessed this phenomenon and I’m sure it will not be the last. But, the leadership of this and other such organizations go out to the major businesses and work hard to get their attention and consideration. When they succeed and bring them to meet their members, why do so many not reciprocate by showing up?

Some would argue that it is supplier apathy or burn out. Too many times we have witnessed lip service in the name of outreach. And, maybe it is, for some. My concern is, if I pay my dues to belong to an organization that is supposed to advocate on my behalf, it is in the best interest of my business and pocketbook (I think I just dated myself) to support that effort by showing up at more than just the luncheons and dinners (which, by the way, cost extra).

By contrast, when I attend a membership meeting for our local women’s advocacy organizations, these women business owners are front and center. Could it be the marketing? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s the mindset. Regardless, the energy in the room is frequently palpable. We need to see more of this from our minority-owned businesses.

So, I challenge our minority businesses across this country to pay more than lip service to your local advocacy organization. They work for you and like any employee, need to see and feel your appreciation of the efforts they make on your behalf. You don’t have to be a part of the leadership to lead or contribute. Yes, sometimes the topic or speaker is not relevant or of interest, but many times there are other corporations in the room, and they are watching and waiting to see who shows up—in more ways than one.

Cheers!

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MBE Resource Center

MBE's Business Opportunities resource covers business-related financing, consulting, and programs available for the Supplier Diversity community and M/WBEs. Updated monthly.

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MBE's M/WBE Resource Directory is a comprehensive list of resource organizations (including links) that support the Supplier Diversity community and M/WBEs.

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Refer to MBE's Acronyms & Terminology list for frequently used acronyms and terminology and an overview of the major organizations supporting the Supplier Diversity community.

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