August is Black Business Month, creating a good opportunity for non-Black people to identify and access enterprises owned by Black people. Maybe, like me, you've committed to spending a percentage of your budget with Black-owned enterprises.
The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates there were 8 million minority-owned companies in the United States as of 2018. The National Minority Supplier Diversity Council reports that certified MBEs generate $400 billion in economic output that lead to the creation or preservation of 2.2 million jobs and $49 billion in annual revenue for local, state, and federal tax authorities. And those numbers are steadily increasing.Alexis Bateman, Ashley Barrington and Katie Date in HBR
How do I find and support Black-owned businesses?
If you're looking for Black creative businesses and professionals to partner with, check out the Black Creatives Network on Twitter and follow #blkcreatives, too. There's also a new database of BIPOC creatives, DiverseCreatives.com, and a #diversecreatives on LinkedIn. Similar hashtags are useful on Instagram, too. Outside of creative services, you can find Black-owned suppliers and vendors on sites like, Buy From a Black Woman, We Buy Black and Official Black Wall Street.
And do I need to mention monitoring the #supportBlackbusiness, #buyBlackowned #Blackownedbusiness and #BlackBusinessMonth hashtags? Judging by some of the laziness I've seen on the part of some white businesspeople, I shouldn't assume you've already thought of that.
Use this month to diversify your network, too. A couple years ago, I began reaching out to Black- and IPOC-owned PR agencies as a means of un-whitening our source lists. We interview hundreds of people each year for our clients and are always looking for new voices. Making them more representative makes sense. (We did a similar effort about 5 years ago when covering infosec, seeking out women and LGBTQ+ sources to get beyond the mostly male voices in that industry). Again, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram make finding professionals and trade groups like Black Women in PR easy. And you can actually Google "Black-owned PR agencies", or whatever.
You can also actively promote the Black-owned enterprises, experts and entrepreneurs you do business with. Nominate them for awards, share your favorite product on social media, suggest them to reporters and colleagues.
You can also become an angel or other investor in Black enterprises. That's another story. (Start with James Norman's excellent article.)
This isn't a definitive list of tactics or resources by any means.
A business case for diversifying vendors and suppliers
For me, diversifying our sources and vendors was a matter of walking my talk. You (or your boss) may need a business case, so consider this:
The “feel-good” factor associated with diversity programs can also burnish a brand. In a 2019 study for Coca-Cola, Hootology, itself a diverse supplier, found that the individuals who were aware of Coca-Cola’s supplier diversity initiatives were 45% more likely to perceive the brand as valuing diversity, 25% were more likely to think favorably about the brand, and 49% were more likely to use Coca-Cola products. Hootology estimated that these favorable perceptions would lead to an additional 670,000 consumers using the company’s products more frequently.Why You Need a Supplier-Diversity Program, HBR, August 2020
This isn't hard. It doesn't take an enormous lift or time commitment to support Black professionals and business owners. What it does take is an intentional effort and continual focus. You can do it.
Want some help? I'm happy to chat with you about this. Set up a 15-minute call.