Minority Sourcing: Sears Joins Other Major Retailers Looking to Increase Their Minority Supplier Base
Watts, Christina F., Black Enterprise
Since turning in their time cards for new business opportunities, minority vendors are now tying up contracts to clean offices, repair buildings, supply coffee cups or offer business services. In fact, more and more CEOs and corporate boards are talking about minority sourcing.
About 75% of Fortune 500 companies already have minority sourcing programs. "Fortunately, there is a select group of companies that have seriously committed themselves to Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) sourcing," says Harriet R. Michel, president of the National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. (NMSDC). "They believe the effort has been worth every penny and every minute they've invested."
Sears checks to make sure that its roster of 10,000 suppliers reflects the chain's customer base and society as a whole. In 1993, Sears purchased more than $68 million in products and services from minority-owned businesses.
Carol A. Martin, director of minority-and women-owned sourcing, heads Sears' purchasing program. The 18-year company veteran says that Sears is seeking to establish long-term partnerships with minority vendors. Among other things, she will use NMSDC's database to find qualified minority vendors. In turn, Sears will run a series of networking sessions to help suppliers and buyers meet and develop stronger relationships.
As part of the initiative, NMSDC will create training programs for minority business owners. They will also design custom workshops for corporate purchasing managers to enhance their skills in identifying, sourcing and developing minority businesses.
"We are confident this initiative will be a powerful catalyst for forging many successful partnerships," says Arthur C. Martinez, chairman and CEO of Sears Merchandise Group and NMSDC chairman.
NMSDC is the link between 3,500 corporations, including Sears, and 15,000 minority-owned businesses. …