I’m excited. Today, Barack Obama becomes the new president of the United States of America at a time when we need leadership out of many challenging situations.
One of the often discussed topics about today’s long anticipated inauguration is the fact that Obama will be the first African-American president. In my opinion, this is a moment like no other that demonstrates that all Americans are equal – the way we should be.
So, let’s transition the discussion to purchasing. Supplier diversity, in particular.
Supplier diversity programs are generally designed to encourage the use of suppliers meeting certain ownership criteria and, in some cases, to “set aside” a percentage of a procurement award for only suppliers meeting such criteria, sometimes called “disadvantaged businesses.” Supplier diversity programs, in many cases, have the apparent mission of making up for inequities in cultural treatment that members of certain ethnic demographics have received, not received, or have been subjected to.
Consider this excerpt from techtarget.com: “A Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) is a small business that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged…The [United States Small Business Administration] defines socially disadvantaged groups as those who have been, historically, subjected to ‘racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias’ within the larger American culture. Identified groups include: African Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans.”
So, with a member of one of those “disadvantaged” groups now having risen to become the President of the United States of America – arguably, the most important job in the world – should that group still be considered “disadvantaged” for procurement purposes?
Does Obama’s inauguration signal that equality has been reached for business purposes?
Could supplier diversity be on its way to obsolescence?
Is supplier diversity more of a throwback to the days of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, when he signed Executive Order 12432, than it is applicable in the days of Barack Obama’s presidency?
Times are clearly changing for the better. Will supplier diversity change also?
Time will tell. In the mean time, let’s give our support to our new president with the faith that he’ll make our world a better place and resolve some of the more important questions about the future of our planet.
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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