by Dean L. Jones, C.P.M.
Roughly, 42 million blacks call the United States of America (USA) home, or 13.6% of the total population. Unlike the visible part of civil rights, which used sit-ins, marches, and political rallies, when compared to the contracting engagement methods used against the public and private sectors to promulgate and advocate for equal access to for blacks has been extremely subdued. This is in spite of how many parts of the civil rights movement endured local, state and national war like acts against it to hinder the elimination of discriminatory practices and laws that previously prevented blacks to fairly work or build businesses within the USA in order to call it home.
Through considerable efforts by persistent individuals, visionary political leaders and ardent socioeconomic activists the institutional discriminatory practices against blacks in America is a favorably completed mission. The fruits of this momentous victory are visible in many areas of socioeconomic freedom from blacks in government, captains of industry, to bankable celebrities and the like. The civil rights mission’s outcome is so well done it is time to turn more attention to promoting innovative commercial achievements surrounding social media devices and services, medical breakthroughs and advances, plus a host of retail entertainment extravaganzas, including Broadway Plays, Blockbuster Movies, Impressive Casinos and World Class Sporting Events.
This is a time of celebration, as the recent recession did not acutely damage these aforementioned business sectors and none received negative press for racial discriminatory practices. Likewise, black-owned and operated enterprises are making considerable strides since 1965. Nationally, black-owned businesses reported more than $140 billion in gross receipts for 2008, up 56% from five years earlier. Conversely, there is a socioeconomic setback that remains unresolved that relates to the high unemployment and expansive poverty among blacks in America. Overall, the number of unemployed persons decreased by 556,000 to 14.5 million in December 2010, which brought the country’s unemployment rate down to 9.4%. Even so, parity among our country’s races is far reaching within this statistic, as the unemployment for whites fell to 8.5% and adult women 8.1%. Where, compared to blacks, the unemployment stayed quite high at 15.8% and even higher for black teens at 30%. For black men, the unemployment rate is doubly higher to that of white men. Moderately, the jobless rates for Hispanics and Asians are 10% and 7.2%, respectively.
In 2009, the poverty rate for blacks was 25.8%, up from 24.7% in 2008, which has to be found to be an outrage to a country that prides itself in being the wealthiest nation on the planet. Consequently, higher competent socioeconomic development makes it critically important to apply more attention to correcting this disparity. We can hardly expect existing levels of enterprise, in a capitalistic society, to make a positive difference to train and hire all of the people unemployed and those living poverty. Accordingly, the capacity of emerging black-owned business enterprises remains considerably disproportionate and below that found in other comparable businesses. Black enterprise is commonly the lowest utilized supplier in corporate America, next to Native American enterprise, when compared to all of the minority groups including Latinos, Asians and White Women.
The time to invest the whole of America is now, making way for the need of a major component of socioeconomic development, supplier diversity, to raise its sights on an enhanced mission of greater black business utilization. Much work exists in the area of job creation and quality of living standards for underserved communities. In general, top supply chain initiatives continually exclude black business capacity building, until a politically perceptive outside organization pushes such a discussion. Despite the fact that by extending greater contracting to black-owned businesses, located in black communities that operate within service territories of a major corporation, the outcome can do nothing but positively increase revenues for said Major Corporation.
How ironic, where from our executive branch to local districts around the country, there is considerable growing discussion on fixing the USA’s grumbling Infrastructure systems. Mostly, infrastructure referring to the large physical networks necessary for the functioning of a modern industrial nation, such as roads, water supply, sewers, power grids, telecommunications, and so forth. Major Corporations get the opportunity to serve as prime contractors on building infrastructures and reaps the benefits of those same things that enable supply chains to function smoothly, for example, goods and services can more rapidly move across roads that are well maintained. Nevertheless, this discussion of infrastructure development stops at possibility of fixing people.
This is why I look forward to advocating to shift the dialogue of this discussion to include the ‘soft’ infrastructure needs found in bad array and in greater need of fixing. As the previously addressed employment statistics show, for a large portion of the local and national population, the socioeconomic health is in a hideous mess. It bears repeating that victoriously racial acceptance is completed and the work that went into achieving can never be commended enough. The movement of civil rights for blacks and collective rights for others is etched in America’s cultural stones as a result of this historical crusade, but obviously, not unlike the legal abolishment of slavery, there are far too many people excluded from equal access to prosperity.
One remedy to this disparity is to identify and enhance the small business contracting in underserved communities. The competent management of such concerns is available, what is missing is the interest on the part of those in corporate America who influence the sourcing decisions for allotment of contracts to extend into such targeted areas.
For example, I referenced earlier that the gross receipts for black-owned businesses in a year totaled $140 billion. Well, the average Fortune 500 Corporation has an annual spend of over $5 billion, which equates to 3% of the over one million businesses that it took to make up that $140 billion. One meaning for this drives a point that if one major corporation targets underserved areas and invests reasonably small amounts of its annual expenditure, the soft infrastructure repair has a large opportunity to change dramatically. Because, as small businesses in underserved areas expand, so would there local hire and reduction in unemployment, more fondly referred to as job creation.
One significant progression that went out with the victory of racial discrimination is the ever-controversial practice of affirmative action. Nevertheless, anyone from the affirmative action era should be able to take away from the process the knowledge that employing focused attention to an issue yields positive long-term results. For instance, colleges and universities across America benefited exponentially from affirmative action, as now more affluent blacks who gained access to colleges during this era pay out right for their offspring to attend college, at coincidentally considerably much higher rates than those required in the 1960’s and 70’s.
In closing, we must be mindful that a special portion of the USA is still in ruins, where solely centering every contract bid opportunity on controlling and containing costs will never deliver positive change for complete socioeconomic development. That is nothing more that short-term management, and long-term returns require a more enriched investment of concerned time and material needed to fix the soft infrastructure that is in crisis caused by decades of neglect.
The neglect is simply from the old adage of help going to those with squeaky wheel. However, the segmented populations of our nation in crisis do not even have wheels to squeak for attention. This is why, supply chain managers should firmly commit oil the wheels of disparity and broaden Major Corporate contracting with American black-owned and operated business enterprises.