SDI Celebrates Black History Month

Firm Addresses Black American Business Spend and Employee Contributions 

By Adriene Bruce, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

First, let me start with: I believe Black History is American History, and the focus on the contributions Black Americans have had in our country regarding inventions and contributions made within this country—and continue to make in this country’s economy—should be shared and highlighted more than one month out of the year. Since this is a time to celebrate the contributions of Black Americans during February, it is a time not just to celebrate historical figures but also to celebrate the contributions many Black Americans contribute to our ecosystem every day. I believe you don’t have to be a celebrity to be highlighted in the contributions that Black Americans make as business owners and citizens make daily to the contributions to the American economy.  

As you read this, you may raise an eyebrow on why the head of DEIB & A (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Access) within an MBE firm that is not owned by a Black American is writing about the contributions Black people and Black businesses play in the economy and why it’s essential to the stay the course on including diverse businesses and people—specifically Black people and businesses —into an organization’s priorities. I believe the fact that I am currently employed by an MBE (Minority Business Enterprise), non-Black-owned business, my commentary on the appropriate and topical imperative in addressing the importance Black businesses and Black people play in the vitality of our economy should be shared this month and throughout the year. Diversity within an organization’s supply chain, partner base, and employee population is paramount to a company’s long-term goals, sustainability and business operational success. 

I bring nearly thirty years of advocating for and driving change in organizations regarding DEIB & A processes by providing access to people from underrepresented groups procurement opportunities and by promoting professional opportunities to people from these groups within organizations. This is why I share my observations on the importance of providing procurement opportunities to Black-owned businesses and professional opportunities to Blacks within organizations as a business imperative within organizations and institutions, large and small. This subject must be highlighted, discussed, monitored, and leaned into throughout the year—not just in February.  

Recently, the NMSDC’s (National Minority Supplier Development Council) 2022 Minority Business Economic Impact Report called out from the 2021 Report, Black-certified businesses ranked fourth in the percentage of growth—behind Asian Pacific, Hispanic, and Asian Indian-certified businesses within the 17,400+ certified NMSDC MBE community. At a time when Black-owned businesses are being underutilized at such an alarming rate, we all need to do our part to provide inclusive opportunities for Black businesses to procure products and services from our organizations. SDI Presence – a non-Black-owned minority business, doesn’t see diverse businesses that do not share our category of diverse ethnic groups as competitors. Instead, the firm strives to increase procurement opportunities with Black-owned businesses, as a way to increase financial growth in communities of color and to partner with businesses owned by people from underrepresented groups as a means to drive for a robust ecosystem.  SDI Presence has been committed to sharing its growth with our other diverse-owned firms through a formal supplier diversity program and process for more than 16 years. There is a myth that MBEs do not spend with other MBEs. SDI, an Asian Indian American-owned and NMSDC Corporate Plus®-certified MBE defies the myth. We do this by facilitating our impact when we provide opportunities to procure from and partner with diverse-owned businesses and suppliers. A robust, diverse supply chain offers a robust economy. Because of the importance of business diversity, SDI assists and supports other diverse firms as we grow together. For years, we’ve partnered with diverse-owned businesses, including Black-owned businesses.  

SDI’s commitment to inclusivity within our supplier and partnership base represents a long-term commitment. SDI Presence is steadfast in its support of providing access to diverse-owned businesses, and we actively track this metric to maximize our spending with our diverse partners. In 2023, 49% of SDI’s total corporate spend was with diverse-owned businesses, and within this total spend, SDI spent 16% with Black American-owned businesses. Within SDI’s diverse corporate spending, Black-owned certified reported spend was the highest percentage within the firm’s diverse spend at 33%; other diverse spending categories within our firm’s total diverse spending for 2023 include Hispanic American (30%), Asian Indian American (18%), Asian Pacific (8%), and combined WBE, WBE/DBE, and VBE (11%). Although we have more work to do, it should also be noted that while Black MBE spend was on a decline in recent years nationally, within SDI Presence, our spend with Black suppliers increased significantly from 10% of total corporate spend in 2020 to 16% of the firm’s total corporate spend in 2023. We are proud to have indexed higher with Black-owned businesses in spend than many of our larger corporate counterparts.    

In addition to looking at diverse spending trends, Black History Month is also a time to acknowledge contemporary Black achievements and the significant impact Black Americans have on business. 50% of SDI’s total employee population are members of diverse ethnic groups. SDI’s Black associates represent 20% of our total associate population in 2023. SDI’s second largest diverse associate population is Hispanic associates (16%), followed by Asian Indian associates (10%), and ethnic categories with two or more races (4%). 69% of SDI’s senior leadership team are ethnically diverse, with women representing 47% and women of color reporting 28%. SDI is proud to be able to attract and retain these valued employees and even prouder of their essential contributions to our firm’s continued growth and clients’ successes. 

SDI has provided equitable opportunities for diverse people from under-represented groups since the company was founded in 1996. We recognize that supporting our diverse-owned business partners and suppliers results in hiring people, which generates wealth in communities of color.  

Why do we care? We care because we recognize we are one giant ecosystem. When we spread the wealth, we all win. A diverse economy—including Black people and Black-owned businesses—is a robust economy. And as I started, Black History is American History. So, let’s be proud of the history we are creating together today.