By Terri Thomas, JPMorgan Chase Community Manager
Supplier diversity is a crucial part of an organization’s success. It’s a way for companies to promote innovation, cultivate networking, boost hiring, and perhaps most important of all, a way for companies to experience the many benefits of diversity while taking steps to close the racial equity gap.
It’s no secret the past year has seen a crucial wave of racial justice and social consciousness. Consumers and companies are prioritizing businesses that are actively addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion. They’re seeking out diverse suppliers – defined as businesses that are at least 51% owned and operated by underrepresented groups – to address racial injustice and support minority entrepreneurs.
There are more than 25 large U.S. companies – including JPMorgan Chase – that spend at least $1 billion each year with diverse suppliers. These are some of America’s leading corporations actively looking to spend money with diverse-owned businesses. So, what does this mean? Being certified as a diverse supplier is more important than ever. Certification not only creates new business opportunities with larger corporations, but it also increases access to resources and support. It serves as proof that your business is diverse, stable, and ready to take on new growth opportunities – and it’s an important step for diverse small business owners looking to grow their business.
To learn more about the opportunities exclusively available for diverse-owned businesses and how the process works, I sat down with Harrison Blair, President of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce to discuss the issue and provide these helpful insights.
Terri Thomas: Why should diverse-owned businesses get certified?
Harrison Blair: Certification opens doors to places where diverse-owned businesses have been often shut out in the past. With the right connections, diverse small business owners can develop new ideas, avoid costly mistakes, and uncover emerging opportunities.
Diversity certifications serve as proof that your company meets inclusion program requirements for government contracts and for supplier contracts with large companies like JPMorgan Chase. Getting certified is the best way to be considered for these opportunities.
Many private enterprises dedicate a percentage of their annual spend to certified diverse companies, so uncertified businesses are missing out on potentially lucrative contracts and growth opportunities. For example, more than $83 billion is spent each year with diverse suppliers of the Billion Dollar Roundtable. The federal government also allocated 16% of its $400 billion annual budget on products and services to diverse small businesses.
Harrison Blair: What are the benefits for minority-owned businesses to get certified?
Terri Thomas: Diverse-owned businesses are often considered first for many opportunities. Certifying your business is an investment in your business, like when you apply for a loan. The time spent now collecting documents and meeting with people can pay off for years to come. Certification is so important that the Advancing Black Entrepreneurs initiative of JPMorgan Chase has partnered with National Minority Supplier Development Council to pay for certifications for businesses that meet certain requirements.
Some of the most significant benefits include:
- Business Opportunities. Top corporate purchasing agents are looking for diverse businesses. By getting certified, businesses are entered into a national database where customers go regularly to find companies that can meet their business needs and advance their diversity goals.
- Access to Capital. Certification provides companies with additional financing opportunities through banks and venture capital firms. Plus, many networks have dedicated pools of capital for diverse businesses.
- Meaningful Support. Certification organizations invest in the success of their member businesses. They often provide educational sessions, training, networking events and matchmaking programs that can enhance business opportunities for connections and growth.
- Access to Supplier Diversity Programs. Companies are now making a conscious effort to work with diverse-owned suppliers. Some have created special supplier diversity programs that cultivate relationships with other diverse-owned businesses, provide information sessions on how the company approaches procurement and host educational sessions.
- Referral Opportunities. Networks are powerful because they allow business owners access to hundreds of people they don’t already know. By entering one of the certification networks, diverse-owned business owners open new opportunities through direct relationships, and also through referrals. Many companies will share information about certified companies within their network.
As a certified diverse-owned supplier, you’re not only on their list, but potential customers are also on yours. Business owners can reach out directly to corporate supplier diversity teams to ask questions and explore opportunities, and they can contact other diverse-owned businesses to explore opportunities for collaboration.
Terri Thomas: What does the official accreditation process entail?
Harrison Blair: There are many ways your company can become certified as a Black owned business. The certifications are designed for historically underrepresented groups. Each type of certification has its own requirements.
Generally, supplier diversity certifications are available to companies that are at least 51% owned and operated by members of historically underrepresented groups, like Black owned businesses. Supplier diversity certifications are available through many organizations, including the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Disability:IN and the National Veteran Business Development Council.
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