Smart companies appreciate the benefits of a diverse supplier base, and are recognized for their supplier diversity initiatives. There are different levels of supplier diversity programs at these corporations but almost all Fortune 1000, and many other businesses of various sizes, have some sort of program from basic to comprehensive. As an MBE, a corporate program can be a valuable source of information, and the type of program and support that they provide can also be a clue as to their level of commitment to working with diverse businesses. Sometimes working with a company as they embark on implementing diversity goals, develop a program, and begin to identify MBE suppliers can lead to opportunity, while other times it is more beneficial to work with a more established program and reap the benefits of their experience, advice, and assistance.

One way an MBE can distinguish themselves is by developing their own program, putting together a coordinated effort that includes measurable initiatives around certification, participation in the MBE business community, sharing knowledge and learning from others, and your own MBE to MBE spend and other goals. As your business grows, consider how your initiatives promote or match up with the ultimate goals of Supplier Diversity. The development of smaller, startup MBEs into thriving business partners shouldn’t rest solely on the shoulders of global corporations.

You can learn and improve your business, and your ability to be a valued partner to companies looking for diverse suppliers, and your own program can help demonstrate that readiness. I’d like to share with you how our efforts have grown over the years from the simple establishment of our MBE certification, to focused efforts at outreach, to a full blown comprehensive program that helps us to continue to grow our business as well as support other MBEs and the diversity community at large.

We started out as a small company, a Class 1 MBE, but over the course of 27 years in business we’ve grown and are now a Class 4. You may be thinking that a program is something only possible if you are a larger MBE like us, but as you can see from the different phases outlined in the chart below, our efforts started out rather basic and grew in scope and focus as our company grew. You may not start out able to sponsor your local council’s events or to target a significant spend with other MBE’s, but your efforts can grow as your company does.

That’s how our program grew, over time. We started by obtaining the minority certification itself and then began to take advantage of all that is offered through the NMSDC to grow our business. Eventually, we were in a position to have one person within ATR focus on our efforts and participation in the diversity community. Each time we moved into a new phase, we continued the good things we’d been doing, and added additional ones. It didn’t take long before those efforts brought value and opportunity. From the small steps in the beginning to our increased and more widespread support in recent years, we’ve developed a comprehensive program that we continue to evaluate and enhance. We’re also mindful of our responsibility, especially now as a senior member of the community, to give back and support other MBEs, so our goals include that.

As long as there are goals in place, even if they are modest, and you are making a concerted effort to achieve them, a formal program can pay dividends. It gives small suppliers the opportunity to show larger, and multinational corporations that they are serious about doing what is necessary to succeed as an MBE and be a successful corporate partner. What are you waiting for? Start your program today.If there’s anything I can do to help, contact me. I’m happy to do so!

Angelique Solorio
Corporate Outreach Manager

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