Diversity and Inclusion

How to Participate in Supplier Diversity and Create Opportunities for Your Minority Owned Business

Supplier Diversity combats economic inequality and levels the playing field for Minority owned businesses

Supplier Diversity and inclusion encourages corporations and government agencies to purchase goods and services from Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs). MBEs include minority, veteran, women, or disabled veteran-owned businesses that historically have been underutilized by corporate and government purchasing agencies. Inclusion provides opportunities that help minority businesses flourish while having a positive, real impact on economic target zones and industries. Benefits to targeted communities include increases in production, job opportunities, wages, and taxes. Supplier diversity programs address economic inequality and help MBEs grow by providing access and exposure to new audiences and target markets. U.S. businesses are increasing in diversity, with social movements driving the need for inclusion, creating B2B and B2G market opportunities. As the U.S. population becomes more diverse, corporates realize that inclusion will increase markets and respond by starting their own B2B diversity programs. Corporate supply chains will become more inclusive, helping to level the playing field for MBEs. Increased government spending will drive upcoming economic recovery resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, B2G diversity programs will increase the demand for minority contractors that have MBE certification. Without MBE certification, minority businesses will miss opportunities that will drive the U.S. economic recovery.   

Get help and learn how to effectively participate in a Supplier Diversity Program

Successful Participation in a Supplier Diversity Program can be overwhelming for businesses that don’t have experience in this area. B2B corporate and B2G agency program goals vary and understanding the best approach to qualify as an MBE can consume time and resources that businesses don’t have to invest in inclusion programs. However, all diversity programs seek to make Supply Chains more diverse and encourage using MBE contractors, historically overlooked to win contracts. Government inclusion programs are required to demonstrate compliance and set-aside budgeted dollars targeted to MBEs. Fortunately, there are resources and help available to guide companies through the inclusion process and quickly connect to real opportunities to help MBEs prosper. The following are vital considerations MBEs need to plan for before participating in a Supplier Diversity Program:

  1. Certify your company as an MBE. All inclusion programs require the same certification to participate in a diversity program.
  2. Understand B2B and B2G contracting. Education programs are available to understand how businesses can qualify as a government contractor or negotiate a Master Service Agreement (MSA) to win B2B contracts.
  3. Join a coalition that will help connect your company with corporates and government agencies seeking MBEs to participate in Supplier Diversity programs. Coalitions help smaller companies connect to real opportunities and partner with other companies sharing common business interests to win Prime awards as part of strategic Joint Ventures (JVs)
  4. Subscribe to online market research services that identify B2B opportunities and government agencies with high potential markets for goods and services an MBE sells. Identifying high potential markets is a huge time saver that focuses on companies for the best return on investment of time spent participating in diversity programs.
  5. Join a local chapter of a minority chamber of commerce. Local chambers connect with potential purchasers and an excellent resource for small business advice.

Understand MBE certification qualification requirements and available training opportunities

A minority-owned company seeking MBE certification needs to be 51% owned and operated by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Controlling business owners need to include Black African, Hispanic, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Native American, or other minority origins. Interested companies looking for MBE certification are encouraged to fill out an online form to determine if they qualify as an MBE and start the certification process. Completing an MBE certification usually takes ninety days and sometimes up to six months, depending on whether all business documentation and certification requirements are met.

Conclusion

Participating in a Supplier Diversity Program is an excellent way to grow a minority business. The COVID-19 economic recovery will be driven by government contracts, which will create a high demand for MBE certified companies. Many resources are available to help with MBE certification and connect small businesses with real opportunities and agencies ready to purchase goods and services in high demand. Coalitions can be a huge help to get minority-owned businesses certified, quickly network, leverage existing relationships with government agencies and prime contractors. Joining a coalition will save months, resources, time, and cost compared to attempting to participate without this type of assistance. 

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