Among the recent breaking news items, the one about AT&T surpassing its aggressive corporate goal of reaching 21.5% supplier diversity to actually achieve 23% of total spend using certified diverse businesses stands out! AT&T has also reached its supplier diversity goal of $12 billion spend one year ahead of schedule; using minorities, women and service-disabled veteran-owned and other historically under-utilized businesses. AT&T’s Chairman and CEO made it a point to laud the beneficial effects of the viewpoints and perspectives brought in by these suppliers to the company and its customers, and of course the community. Claps everyone, please and do demand an encore, year on year.
Strategies to Achieve Supplier Diversity
Major companies across the US find it worth their while to have policies and programs in place to set themselves supplier diversity goals and working to achieve those using unique and not-so-unique strategies.
Such aggressive programs have given rise to bitterness and counter-claims of reverse-discrimination from non-minority owned businesses, but it is not easy to take a call on any one side at this moment.
Why Need Affirmative Action?
I am reminded of a rare moment of disagreement I had – as a teenager – with my mother; when I invited a friend, from a different community, over to my place for a week’s stay. After we saw the friend off, my mother actually demanded praise for her total emancipation from class-consciousness and for the way she treated this friend on par with any other visitor. I refuted the claim, and rather bluntly told her that claims of emancipation are unacceptable from someone who was anyway conscious of the so-called ‘difference’! (In retrospect, I do kick myself for censuring her, without factoring in her upbringing.)
The work of EEOC, the US Department of Justice and Dept. of Labor and other regulatory authorities are all cut out for them for as long as we have class consciousness being promoted surreptitiously at the individual level – though defied at the community level; creating strong dichotomy and confusion in the minds of people about something as simple as an inclusive approach to other humans, irrespective of their gender, race, color or creed.
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