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Diversity in Business

From time to time, social movements take the world by storm. The winds of change, whether brewing for decades or sudden onset, cannot be ignored. Regardless of one’s political affinity the news of the day can not be ignored. Here’s the challenge: this is not new. In this moment, for the purposes of this article, let’s set aside ideology and focus on business fact. If you are the owner of a company and you are a Minority, Woman, and or Veteran, you must be aware of your opportunities.

A shocking number of people are unaware of the Small Business Administration and the power of Small Business Certifications. Vast segments of my weeks are spent educating owners as to the benefits of these certifications when competing for Federal Government business. Potential revenues are staggering. Laws are in place to give specific and deliberate advantage to protected classes. This is not the knee-jerk reaction of the latest social movement. These laws have been on record for decades, and yet very little is mentioned even though they are such game-changers.

You know who does the best marketing in the Federal Government? The Marines! Perhaps we should introduce the United States Marine Corps marketing group to the Small Business Administration. That would get the word out!

In addition to these Small Business certifications sponsored by the Federal Government, corporations have also similar programs. Corporations have done a much better job advertising their Small Business programs, especially as of late. Amazon and Walmart come to mind in particular.

Regardless of motivation, whether reaction to social pressure or compliance to government regulations, the effects are the same and benefits are real. Large Corporations have gone so far as to establish Chief Diversity Officer positions to ensure compliance regarding both internal and external agreements. Decades of workplace discrimination is no longer being swept under the table. Companies go to great lengths to prevent even the appearance of work place discrimination. Those not adhering find themselves on the losing end of large lawsuits. Take it a step further. It’s not simply about the employees a corporation chose to hire or not, but also the subcontractors the company seeks out.

Federal contracts exceeding $700,000 or 120 days of service require Small Business Utilization Plans. These plans apply the same or similar requirements as the client agency. Government Contracting Officers have some discretion on exact percentages for each effort, but in general every large contract MUST have small business participation. The vast majority of corporations hold some sort of Government Contract at some level in the company. This too pushes policy toward small business utilization.

Small Business Owners, understand you have a massive opportunity when doing “Business to Business” and “Business to Government”. Find the company’s Chief Diversity Officer and see where you fit in their plans. Use you Federal and State certifications to qualify and validate. Make sure to identify your company’s socio-economic status in your negotiations. Ask how they are doing achieving their Minority, Woman, Veteran Small Business objectives. You have many factors in your favor. Federal and State law, contract obligations and social pressure just to name a few. The programs are out there. Understand the rules of the specific programs and use them to your company’s benefit

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