Diversity – New ideas, new employees, new approaches. Where do you go ? Where do you find them?

Fields Jackson


This is a guest post by my good friend and colleague, Fields Jackson. Fields is the Founder and CEO of the Racing Toward Diversity Magazine, a publication which showcases the best diversity efforts and initiatives being made today. Written with business and educational audiences in mind. Stories highlight messages from influential leaders and their organizations.


I was fresh out of college and had landed my first job in Erie, PA. Mom and dad traveled from New Jersey to help get me settled and furnish my new apartment.

Dad and I went to a small used furniture store looking for a desk.  What he found and commented on resonates with me today. He saw tucked away in the corner – not a desk – but a small 40″ high by 40″ wide dresser.  The lower three drawers had been removed with the remaining top drawer in place.  This old discarded oak dresser had been transformed into a new desk for me.  My father stated – “I don’t know the person that did this – but I like how they think”.

New ideas – new approaches – where do you go – where do you find them? Which do you ignore? Which capture your imagination?

Still early in my career with a new job as hospital equipment representative. I had an appointment to meet the nursing staff of a children’s hospital to do a early morning equipment in service.  During my setup, I noticed a small child almost completely bandaged from head to toe, badly burned.  While I set up the child woke up to find a small gift – left on his bed – a rubber ball. The absolute delight in this child’s eyes as he started to play with this ball, this new gift. His response could have been the absolute opposite – to ignore it.

To this day, I reflect on that moment whenever I think I am having problems or cannot see a way forward. This child – who was dealt a very bad hand early in life – choose to celebrate that day – choose to take an optimistic approach forward – as the ball and what it represented captured his imagination – as well as mine.

I will close with a more recent story. Bob Ontiveros, CEO, Group O Companies sent me an e-mail about his start in business and our publication. Bob stated – “looking back to 1974, I started my business, No Plan, No Money, only a Desire to have my own Business, times were really tough, 15% interest rates, the Oil embargo, etc., but desire and hard work will always succeed.”

Thought leaders – they are out there – seek them out – some you will find in unfamiliar places, some from unlikely voices, maybe even tucked away in a corner.  Once you find them – appreciate the way they think.  Bounce your ideas and concerns off them before you toss them away or take a negative approach.

I am humbled and thrilled to hear from those thought leaders that believe diversity represents another way forward. We continue to find new clear voices in the diversity and inclusion discussion.  As always …..if you have a minute – we would love to hear yours.


The Economic Impact of NCMSDC Certified Minority Businesses on Northern California

Scott Vowels


This is a guest post by my good friend and colleague, Scott Vowels. Scott is the President/CEO of the Northern California Minority Supplier Development Council (NCMSDC), a non-profit organization which provides the only nationally-recognized Ethnic Minority Business Certification in Northern California and Hawaii and connects certified Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MBEs) with NCMSDC Corporate Members,.

One of the reasons most often given for major buying entities (corporations, hospitals, universities, state and local government, etc.) to have a supplier diversity initiative and engage in minority business development is that by promoting greater vendor participation, they are helping to support the economic base of the communities in which they do business. This sounds good, but is it accurate?

For the first time in history, the Northern California Minority Supplier Development Council (NCMSDC) examines the economic impact of 758* certified Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) on 48 counties in Northern California that represent NCMSDC’s footprint. Today, NCMSDC MBEs have a total economic impact of over $11 billion dollars in output that results in the creation of and/or preservation of more than 76,000 jobs held by persons who find themselves either directly or indirectly employed by NCMSDC certified MBEs. These are jobs that not only support individuals, but also contribute to the economic wellbeing of their families, their communities, and the nation as a whole. This is particularly striking in a time when unemployment is at an all-time high within many minority communities. These same individuals are also contributing $687.7 million to the tax base of a state that historically struggles with enormous budget deficits.

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The Value of Diverse Suppliers

Diverse group of business people

What is the value of doing big business with diverse business ? Corporations, large and small alike, frequently struggle with articulating a clear value proposition for implementing a focus on the utilization of diverse businesses in their supply chain.  I have discussed this in previous article including: “The Three C’s of Supplier Diversity” and “Making an Effective Business Case for Minority Supplier Development”.

Frantz Tiffeau

Frantz Tiffeau

My good friend and colleague Franz Tiffeau, Senior Manager of Supply Chain Diversity at Office   Depot, has shared some GREAT additional guidance on this important topic.

He recently sat down with the folks of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) to record a podcast in which he explains the value that diverse suppliers can bring to the supply chain.

CLICK HERE to listen to the 5 minute podcast. 

The information Frantz shares is very valuable !

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The Socio-Economic Impact of Supplier Diversity in the UK

Mayank Shah


This is a guest post by my good friend and colleague, Mayank Shah.  Mayank is the founding director of Minority Supplier Development UK, a premier non-profit corporate membership organisation championing supplier diversity in private sector supply chain in the UK. 

A major new report commissioned by Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK) and conducted by The Social Investment Consultancy (TSIC)  finds that the UK’s Ethnic Minority Businesses (EMBs) businesses are failing to win contracts with big business and 36% of large UK corporates admit they’d expected Ethnic Minority Businesses (EMBs) to be “behind the standards of their current suppliers”, despite growing evidence that EMB suppliers are outperforming rival suppliers. It also finds that senior level audiences in UK corporates remain difficult to engage on the issue of improving supplier diversity.



The report, launched at the MSDUK 2012 Conference on 12th October 2012, paints a mixed picture of the supplier / corporate relationship. On the one hand EMBs are increasingly winning contracts to supply services to large corporations, 54% of whom agree that there is a ‘strong link’ between supplier diversity and new business development. However, according to Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary for State for Energy  & Climate Change,  who backed the report’s findings: “we also need large corporations to recognise the commercial advantages of a more inclusive supply chain, as well as the knock-on benefits that minority suppliers can deliver to the wider community.”

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