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Hit the Reset Button: Supplier Diversity in An Era of Uncertainty.

Tanya Isley
Young woman with surgical mask over her mouth and noise with a red "reset" button on her left.

“This new economy will be dominated by companies that “get it” to lead the way in providing opportunities for diverse business partners.”

Ralph G. Moore, founder and president, Ralph G. Moore & Associates.

Minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic tailspin. Many of these businesses are in a holding pattern as we all try to comprehend and determine the long-term impact of this pandemic. To provide clarity on how this crisis may affect supplier diversity, we spoke with Ralph G. Moore, founder and president of Ralph G. Moore & Associates (RGMA), which has trained more supplier diversity professionals than any other resource in the world. With more than 45 years in the supplier diversity space and as the creator of the RGMA 5 Levels of Supplier Diversity, Moore has a unique perspective on the industry and how MWBEs and supplier diversity professionals can move forward through this time of uncertainty.

Moore’s answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: How do you think the COVID-19 crisis will impact supplier diversity?

Moore: The most painful impact is the tens of thousands of families that have suffered the loss of loved ones during this tragedy. And  this tragic loss has been compounded by a disproportionate loss of life within minority communities nationwide. 

On the business side of this crisis, every company in America has been impacted. In our case, two leading B2C (business-to-consumer) companies and RGMA clients have placed our projects on hold. Every company in America is recasting their 2020 strategy, so, it’s impacting the entire economy. 

The encouraging news is that COVID-19 has made every company in America hit the “reset button.” I compare this situation to a NASCAR race when there’s a major crash and they wave the yellow caution flag which enables the racers to make a pit stop to refuel and they get new tires. It’s unexpected. It disrupts the race. But it gives you a moment to get your act together and redefine your strategy. If, in fact, you’re losing the race, you’ve got to do something different. The silver lining in this tragedy is that it presents an opportunity for minority businesses, supplier diversity professionals, and all supplier diversity stakeholders to hit the reset button. We must emerge from this crisis with a new attitude and a new strategy to back it up. There is a unique opportunity for minority businesses to discard that mindset of “I’ll settle for 10 percent of the contract requirement” or I just want the “minority piece.” Minority suppliers must discard the “compliance mindset” and strive to be the best suppliers in a given category, period.

Ralph G. Moore

And, it’s going to require collaboration, tenacity, and rebranding – all the things that must happen during a period of transformation. Were there ever a time for minority businesses to step up and say “Okay, it’s time to take our game to the next level,” this is it. 

The biggest challenge during this period of transformation will be capacity building because as we need to offset the myth that minority businesses can’t deliver like their non-minority counterparts. And I know for a fact that’s not true. But we must continue to grow great minority companies, communicate our excellence, and then back it up. It’s going to be a roller coaster ride for the remainder of 2020, but I am confident that minority CEOs are up for the challenge. This is a unique opportunity for progress.

For more of Moore’s insights, read his complete interview in the MBE magazine Winter/Spring 2020 digital edition.

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