It’s not too late to spend more with diverse businesses this year! I sent holiday gifts this year from a local, women-owned business and a certified WBE who puts together packages with a purpose, sourcing sustainable items for truly responsible gifting. 

Counting my spend

Every year I count my spend with diverse businesses and review what went well and what I could do better. 2019’s wrap up showed an increase from 11.5% spend with diverse business owners in 2018 to 24.8%. It was pretty good growth but I still had work to do with categories other than woman owned businesses. I also know that to go far, you have to go together. I was looking forward to initiating partnerships with other companies that could help me get there.

The 2020 Effect

2020 did throw a wrench in my goals but in unexpected ways.  I increased my percentage of spend with diverse businesses to 47.9% all with women-owned businesses. While I did find some new businesses, I simply wasn’t spending as much- period. That said, I did not cut any spend with diverse businesses and do not regret that decision one bit.

For example, last year I talked about working out of Hera Hub, a co-working space in Tenleytown. While there wasn’t much call for co-working – the community of women business owners there proved invaluable to me. I received exposure nationally on the blog, by conducting a webinar, and through the membership, I’ve gained meaningful connections.

In the category of legal and professional services, I continued to work with my bookkeeper, Sharon Gubinsky at Platinum CFO and my marketing team, Social Light.  I was happy to be able to take my own advice about continuing to market and come up with new ideas when my business owner clients needed something different.

Collaboration is the New Competition

In terms of partnerships,  I’m proud to announce that I found some awesome people to partner with and some really cool businesses to buy stuff from.  Partnerships can be tough but I’ve been able to initiate several this year. In fact, one partnership led to several others:

  • Diversity Masterminds® is a joint venture I started with Heather Cox from Certify My Company. We are two WBEs and the company is also Disability Owned (DOBE certification is coming soon!). While we started last year, we really kicked into high gear in 2020 (despite 2020). Since the course is virtual, we were able to offer several live cohorts as well as a series of educational webinars and events with corporate members and certification organizations. We also filmed our on-demand series (coming soon), started the Business Unusual podcast which will have its second season in 2021, and put out e-books and resources for companies to continue to accelerate growth during COVID-19.
  • Diversity Masterminds and 12PointFive partnered with certified WBE credit card processing company, EPNA that can review your merchant fees and tell you ways to save. They can help you get paid faster and set your clients up with recurring billing.  This is such an important decision for business owners, especially as they pivot to selling online.
  • We are working with Coupa, an open diverse business directory to offer online courses to their suppliers. Most supplier diversity directories require you to be a member or certified business to access it. We love to see businesses making it easier to find these companies with everything from shoes to change management.
  • We partnered with another WBE, Ashley Martin, the Leadership Lady to offer complete design services to help our clients not only know what to put in their capability statement but actually get it done once and for all.

Acting Intentionally when you can’t spend with diverse businesses

Not surprisingly, my percentage spend on supplier diversity events was about half as much as last year at 2%. What is a surprise is that I still managed to spend a lot on travel. Because the major airlines and hotels that host events do not tend to be diverse owned, that spend was mostly Act Intentionally spend. Act Intentionally refers to spend with companies that support and buy from diverse owned companies.

Goals for 2021

There is still work do with other diverse business categories – Black owned businesses, LGBT, and Veteran owned. My spend with Black Women Owned businesses was 7.6% and given all the resources I have at my disposal, that number should be higher. I’d like to add other diverse business categories in the areas where I plan to spend more like insurance and personal items and gifts.

I look forward to continuing to challenge myself to walk the walk when it comes to supplier diversity. In the meantime, I hope you have a warm and wonderful holiday season and consider diverse businesses for those last minute gifts!