The murder of George Floyd by the police, the subsequent nationwide protests, and the Black Lives Matter movement have a few things clear. I need to be more vocal in my condemnation of police brutality and support of Black Lives Matter.
As white people, we also need to be clear about our privilege and what that means. From maternal mortality rates to being afraid for our kids, brother, partners when they are late or don’t pick up the phone, talking to Tip gave me great clarity on the ways race informs our different experiences. Yes, there are things that unite us and we are in this together. As another friend said, “We’re in the same storm. We’re not all in the same boats.”
As a Gen-Xer a lot of my historical education formally and informally revolves around stories. Stories have an arc -a beginning, a middle and an end. There is tension, drama, and ultimately a resolution. The stories we tell ourselves about Thanksgiving, the American Revolution, the Emancipation Proclamation, and others come with a build-up to a turning point after which everything worked out and Americans are free to pursue life, liberty and happiness.
As historians will remind us, it is not and never has been that simple. The freedom in this country, the liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have always come with an asterisk, leaving out indigenous people, immigrants, LGBT communities, disabled people, minorities, and women.
That’s not news. In fact, it’s the very reason supplier diversity exists (and thus my company). Supplier diversity is a corporate process and policy that recognizes that some groups of people in this country have been passed over for economic opportunities. Fortune 500 companies look for businesses owned by diverse groups not to address economic disparity but because the economic disparity actually hurts their bottom line. If they do not have products made by and for these diverse groups, if they are not investing in those communities, they are missing out on a competitive advantage.
Put another way, the companies that have intentional programs to buy from diverse businesses see an increase in positive feelings about their brand (Hootology). Companies that spend more than 20% with diverse suppliers attribute 10-15% of their sales they can attribute sales to their supplier diversity programs and for every dollar they spend on supplier diversity they get $133 back. That’s a 133% return on their investment.
One thing we can do now and continue to do when we recognize our privilege is being intentional about where our dollars are going. That’s the intent behind Supplier Diversity programs in general. Supplier Diversity is not something I just think about in honor of Pride month, or women’s history month or Juneteenth. I work on this stuff every day but I can still do better.
Looking at what is in my power to make a change, where I can add value to the Black Lives Matter movement, I can be even more intentional about what I am reading, spending, and donating. In the DC area, I donated to Black Girl Ventures. I have bought books from Black authors, and I am going to go to the OwnHers directory to buy more that my family might need. I’m sharing resources for Black-owned businesses and people who want to support them. Since this is in my wheelhouse, I’m sharing what I plan to do to be clear about what I can do to be part of the solution. We have to keep working for that happy ending for many years to come. This is just the beginning and may the clarity that 2020 brings drive us forward.