DRC forum showcases supplier diversity as a ‘competitive advantage’ for companies

By Catie George, Manager, Communications and Storytelling

Business leaders, suppliers, and contractors connected to find opportunities to increase supplier diversity in the Dallas Region Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s The Exchange: A Supplier Diversity Forum.

The program, presented by McCarthy Building Companies and the Law Offices of Erika N. Salter, P.C., highlighted supplier diversity as an asset for companies.

“Connecting companies that need suppliers with diverse suppliers is a competitive advantage because it grows that company’s customer base while the work gets done,” said DRC President and CEO Dale Petroskey. “It gives opportunities to many deserving people who may otherwise never have been considered for those opportunities. Our goal [at the DRC] is to connect the dots between companies looking for suppliers and qualified suppliers to work with those companies to build their businesses.”

Supplier diversity is especially important as the U.S. continues to become more diverse.

“Not a lot of large law firms in the country focus on minority businesses and understand the importance of where the country is going in terms of a more diverse population,” said Efrain Vera, Associate Attorney at McGuireWoods LLP.

The forum attendees were led in an activity by Ahmed Goree, Lead Economic Development Specialist at the U.S. Small Business Administration, to connect diverse suppliers and procurement professionals in attendance.

“We all know that people do business with people that they know, people that they like, and people that are connected to them in their network,” said Danielle Thompson, Director of Procurement Services at the City of Dallas. “So, we’re trying to facilitate building networks for our firms who don’t have them.”

The forum also offered plenty of encouragement for those working at increasing their diversity and inclusion.

“Supply chain inclusion is not easy… there are obstacles all-around and all the way. But we don’t let that get in our way because supply chain inclusion has economic impact for our entire country,” said President of the DFW Minority Supplier Development Council Margo J. Posey. “It’s about the economic impact that it has on our local area, our region, and most importantly, our country.”

If the equity gap, the difference in how successful minority businesses could be compared to where they are now, could be closed, Posey said, it would create over 9 million jobs in Texas alone.

“Partner with us and give us the insight that you have, and that will help all of us have this holistic success that’s actually rooted in relationships and a true investment in diversity and inclusion,” said Thompson.

Suzanne Cruz-Sewell, Assistant Vice President of Business Diversity & Development at DFW International Airport, said truly successful supplier diversity starts at the top.

“Our supplier diversity program is a leadership commitment; it is a commitment across the organization. You have to be very passionate about supplier diversity because the advocacy efforts for these programs are never-ending,” said Cruz-Sewell. “The success of our program at the airport results from the leadership commitment and the 1,112 advocacy organizations we partner with.”

Attendees were also encouraged to avoid negative preconceptions and give Women- and Minority-owned Business Enterprises a chance.

“People think that all minority-owned businesses are small. That’s not the case,” said Posey. “A lot of minority-owned businesses are great when it comes to skill set, knowing their craft, and being able to deliver on their product.”

American National Bank of Texas and Regions Bank served as silver sponsors for The Exchange.

If you want to learn more about the work the DRC’s Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement team is doing, visit our website.