Each year, since 1955, Fortune Magazine ranks the 500 largest corporations in the United States. Corporations that are part of the Fortune 500, purchase goods and services from other businesses which in turn support thousands of other companies and millions of jobs across the nation. Becoming a supplier to a major corporation is a growth strategy that many minority-owned firms incorporate into their business plans, and Fortune 500 corporations have responded by launching supplier diversity programs. Some are more successful than others.
The Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR) was created 12 years ago to identify and honor those Fortune 500 corporations that have embraced the value of working with diverse suppliers and procuring quality products and services to satisfy their corporate needs. Every corporation that is a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable is formally committed to procuring at least $1 billion annually in goods and services from minority and women-owned businesses. Today, there are 18 corporate members of the BDR, with many more on their way to achieving the $1 billion threshold.
Although $1 billion is the benchmark for joining the Billion Dollar Roundtable, AT&T is one corporation exceeding that goal.
On August 21st, I attended the Billion Dollar Roundtable annual summit, where attendees shared best practices in supply chain diversity excellence. There were also discussions about new strategies and opportunities to increase the number of Fortune 500 corporations in the Billion Dollar Roundtable. The Roundtable has accomplished a lot since its founding in 2001.
MBDA encourages corporations to continue growing their supplier diversity programs. Supplier diversity has a multiplier effect that is good economics for everyone. Local communities benefit because purchases made from a local minority-owned firm contributes to the local tax base and creates jobs. A corporate buyer wins because they have more choices and the opportunity to purchase closer to home. An increase in choices also motivates the entire supply base to be more competitive on prices, quality and delivery. It’s good for consumers because these savings are eventually passed onto them.
During the BDR summit, I reminded everyone that MBDA has a network of about 40 Business Centers that support minority-owned businesses all across the country. Many of these Centers are located in the same areas as Fortune 500 corporations. In fact, almost 50 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are located in the same area of at least one of our MBDA Business Centers. Working together, MBDA can be a catalyst for more corporations meeting or exceeding their BDR procurement commitment while also helping minority-owned firms to achieve their growth strategy, create jobs, and strengthen the American economy.
If you are a corporation seeking quality goods and services from diverse suppliers or you’re a minority-owned firm interested in being part of the corporate supply chain, please contact the MBDA Business Center  nearest you for assistance.