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Viewpoint: Supplier diversity has come far, with a long way to go

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Michelle N. Morin, executive director of the Office of Supplier Diversity

Business relationships fall into three categories of customer focus: consumers as customers (B2C), businesses as customers (B2B), and governments as customers (B2G). Navigating these different opportunities can seem challenging, especially for minority-owned vendors that have faced a lack of transparency and access in the past.

Supplier diversity is an opportunity, particularly in the B2B and B2G spaces, for all vendors. It’s how organizations work to ensure access and inclusion in their supply chains.

There are nearly 12,000 certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBEs), according to the National Minority Supplier Development Council. That includes 27 percent designated as Minority Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs). The State of Delaware certifies 1,212 MBEs, a third of which are MWBEs. There are 512 MWBEs with Delaware addresses spanning all three counties, which includes 215 MWBEs.

Delaware values B2G engagement with all businesses. The Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD) certifies diverse and small businesses free of charge. This places those businesses in our Directory of Certified Businesses, where they are sought for under-threshold opportunities, invited to participate on formal procurement bids, and for identification for consideration by B2B companies.

In fiscal 2017, for the second year in a row, the state spent over a quarter-billion dollars on diverse and small businesses. We measure this in various ways, including direct spend (with the certified firms and with firms who self-identify on their W9 tax forms but have not yet become certified with OSD), and indirect spend (through second-tier or sub-contracting that is reported to the state such as $32 million in fiscal 2017 through the Department of Transportation with DBE certified firms in sub-contracting opportunities).

OSD reports a 137 percent increase in B2G engagement with MBEs and a tremendous increase of 2,626 percent in B2G engagement with MWBEs over the past eight years. Quarterly and annual reports are available on the OSD website (gss.omb.delaware.gov/osd). A look at state trends in spending with the OSD Certified enterprises, from base year fiscal 2009 to our recently concluded fiscal 2017 are highlighted here.

OSD provides a breakdown by ethnicity for the OSD Certified firms as the W9 form does not report at that level. The Delaware Housing Authority, a quasi-governmental authority, also values diversity and inclusion in their supply chain and are included in OSD reporting, but without a further breakdown to ethnicity.

Diverse and small businesses provide positive impact to the economy and to our state’s supply chain. The State welcomes all businesses to our open and equal procurement table. We also recognize that not all businesses start from the same vantage point, or operate on the same schedule, and we greatly value our many resource partners throughout the state and the region who engage minority businesses and all diverse businesses, in development and technical assistance to be ready for opportunities.

Michelle N. Morin is the executive director of the Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD), a statewide office with a mission to engage diverse and small businesses in accessing B2G opportunities for formal contracting
and agency supplier diversity plans.

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