OCBO Promotes Greater Supplier Diversity

On Thursday, I put the opportunity to attend the morning classes of the Federal Communications Commission’s Fourth Supplier Diversity Conference, which highlighted the importance of these efforts in the marketing communications industry. The FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities (OCBO) organized the event and during my welcoming remarks, I actually gave a special “shout out” to Director Thomas Reed because, just before his tenure, the agency got never held supplier diversity training courses.

It is not often described, but diversity is woven into the very fabric of our national marketing communications policy. Section 257 of the Marketing communications Act directs the FCC to lower barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses, in the provision of parts and services, to marketing communications companies.

Even if this particular directive were not in our federal statute, supplier diversity is important because it produces tremendous benefits to all stakeholders, not only the companies awarded the bid. Supplier diversity adds great economic worth to our nation because it enables these diverse businesses to grow, which in turn, creates incredible multiplier effects.

Our nation’s economic recovery plus sustainability are improved because these enterprises are more likely to hire from and spend money on their own communities, which often are underserved and lacking in adequate investment. Due to the fact many of these businesses are small and forced by lack of scale to be practical, they are more likely to be energized, perky and creative. They bring special talents and perspectives to market and are more likely to provide cutting edge products and services to existing and emerging consumer markets. Given the dramatic shifts in our demographic landscape here and around the world, these elements are proving to become keys to success.

Both panels were inspiring plus enlightening. Fernando Hernandez, the Director of Supplier Diversity at Microsoft, shared how he made the business enterprise case for growing that company’s global program by showing that, if it wants to truly serve the next billion customers, then it must address any existing challenges it may have in dealing with diverse populations here at house because many of those customers from rising markets will not look like the first two billion of already connected residents. So when it came to expanding the particular company’s training programs in their contact centers and internship programs, Microsoft not only trained those employees outside of what the core calling center features required, but they expanded their outreach efforts to the employee’s and intern’s family members. What this has yielded is a more skilled employee, with a better chance of being promoted, and because of this, is more willing to remain with the firm, and an intern whose household is more likely to support what to them may be an unchartered career path, because by being included, they at this point understand their child’s potential within the STEM field.

Sharon Pinder, President and CEO of the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council, joked that what the girl learned firsthand, when her “. com turned into a. bomb” is that minority and women owned-small businesses should not only receive their Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification, but that they should strive to diversify their client base. Representatives from AT& T, CBS, Comcast, Cox, Sprint, and Verizon also underscored the importance of the MBE certificate, engaging early with businesses before the request for proposal stage, having the ability to deliver on your contracted promises, plus meeting the actual people in the marketing communications companies who will be using the parts and services.

Probably the most inspiring presentation came from Tonee Bell, Chairman and CEO of A Unity System, Inc., a computer plus smartwatch manufacturer. Bell started their company 15 years ago with the dream of linking the digital divide and recycling where possible a percentage of company profits back into the community. Although they are originally from North Carolina, he has been DC-based for about three years and has attended every OCBO conference where he do a lot more than hand out business cards. This individual got to know every person in the space, cultivated relationships, and leveraged those people relationships which eventually led your pet to landing a major contract with Walmart. He also advised smaller businesses to “be patient and continual, confident but not cocky” when it comes to pitching your product. “Your priorities are not theirs… so you must figure out whenever to push, [when to] pull or [when to] circumvent. ”

Bell also shared a quote from his grandfather, Henry Booth, who was “the smartest man I’ve actually known even though he only had a third grade education. ” For me personally, this quote not only wonderfully sums up what drives the entrepreneurial resolve that will continue to fuel our own nation’s economy, but they are inspirational words to live by: “Why not go out on a limb? [Isn’t] that where the fruit is? ”


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