What Would Make White People Support a Black Business?

Why would white people choose to do business with a black company over a white one? The White Guy has the answer.

Luke Visconti's Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.


Question:

What would make white people support a black business over a white business, all things being equal?

 

Answer:

I'll assume that your question involves a hypothetical company, one which is average, and, therefore, does not have a robust supplier-diversity program. I'll also make the assumption that the procurement department head and/or CEO is white.

 

With all things being equal, and with the above circumstances, there are several reasons for a white businessperson to decide to do business with a black-owned business over a white-owned business (per your question). It's called "supplier diversity." Supplier diversity is not charity. It is a process by which companies improve their business. Properly implemented, supplier diversity lowers costs and increases margin and/or revenue.

 

There are several ways this happens:

 

  • If you increase the number of suppliers with which you're doing business, you will lower overall procurement costs.

  • Women/minority business enterprises (W/MBEs) are forming and growing at a much faster rate than business in general. Aligning your business with a growth sector is a good strategy.

  • If your company is a consumer company, supplier diversity will help your company brand new consumers (your suppliers and their employees). In the process of doing business, your company will learn the skills necessary to better form relationships with people of color and/or women.

  • If your company is a business-to-business company, you probably already know that other progressive businesses are asking for supplier-diversity numbers on RFPs. You are at a competitive disadvantage if you do not have a good record to show.

  • If your company is a business-to-government company, you already know that supplier diversity is a mandate. Beyond mandates, however, is intent. Progressive governmental agencies (they're not all the same) are looking for exceptional performance. The late Dave Sampson at Marriott told us of three $1-billion contracts they won from three different city governments on the basis of superior supplier diversity.

  • There is ample anecdotal evidence that shows that broadening your supplier base to include W/MBEs decreases costs AND increases innovation.

  • Supplier diversity can increase the economic sustainability of a local economy by broadening and strengthening the economic base of the region. This is most quickly done by working with people who have formerly been excluded and/or oppressed (you get the most gain from an underutilized asset).

  • Supplier diversity is a sound business practice, especially practiced by companies that outperform the general stock-market indexes. The 2007 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies averaged 9.3 percent of their procurement spend with M/WBEs; we estimate the national spend at 2 percent. The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies, expressed as a stock index, outperform the Nasdaq, Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 on a long- and short-term basis.

This short list of factors is not inclusive of all the reasons to promote supplier diversity, but it may give cause for you to ponder why supplier diversity isn't more widespread.

 

Ultimately, we must all come to grips with the reality that we are visually oriented tribal beings; diversity management--in this case, supplier diversity--isn't going to come "naturally." What comes naturally is to do business with people who look just like we do. Diversity management is like managing any other business discipline: Expectations must be clear, accountability must be absolute and vigorous metrics must be utilized.

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In the Trump era, there has been a proliferation of Islamophobic and racist incidents across the country. When discrimination occurs at a place of business, it's apparent if the company's leadership and workforce support diversity and inclusion. A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café barista refused to serve a racist customer; meanwhile, a white manager at a Starbucks called the police on two Black men for no reason.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Executives from Nielsen, New York Life, TIAA and Toyota Motor North America talk about communicating their commitment to D&I management and backing it up with actions that get results.

At the 2018 DiversityInc Top 50 event, more than 400 people were in attendance during the day to hear best practices on effectively managing diversity and inclusion.

Moderator: Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

Panelists:

  • Angela Talton, Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen
  • Kathleen Navarro, VP & Chief Diversity Officer, New York Life
  • Steve Larson, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion, TIAA
  • Adrienne Trimble, General Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Toyota Motor North America

We White People Need to Own This

Martin Luther King has been dead for 50 years and Donald Trump is our president. Who is responsible?

REUTERS

Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious — and based on his 18 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.

We will be deluged by Martin Luther King articles and columns today. Some will be excellent, like the one Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote. But most will be saccharine sweet and not say what needs to be said.

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Quiroz was an advocate of diversity and inclusion, education and the arts.

A Latina trailblazer, Lisa Garcia Quiroz, senior vice president and chief diversity officer at Time Warner Inc., and president of the Time Warner Foundation, died Friday at age 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. An advocate of diversity and inclusion, education and the arts, Quiroz created a dynamic legacy.

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From Supplier Diversity to Supplier Inclusion – Embracing Supply Chain Diversity at The Hershey Company

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At The Hershey Company, being committed to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) isn't just a project or a set of numeric goals embedded in the HR department — it's a way of operating our business every day. This "inclusion imperative" is closely connected to our mission of bringing goodness to the world and to our employees, communities and business partners. In fact, being a global leader in D&I is one of our company's primary goals.

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