July 21, 2020 – So, I’m Asked: ‘Do I really need to hire diverse vendors? What do I gain?'
YES - You bet your assets!
An inspiring short story on diversity, vendors and elegance.
Not so long ago, I reached out to a vendor that was founded and led by a minority. I approached her advising that I had a lender client seeking a diverse vendor, but the vendor had to have the ‘official’ MWBE certification in hand.
Much to my surprise, and admiration lasting to this day, the vendor told me her company was not a good fit for the lender. This vendor wanted to EARN business on merit, not from somebody out there trying to ‘check a box’ for tax credits or similar purposes.
The founder never once asked about the size of the lender, revenue potential or anything at all. Because it simply did not matter. She graciously passed on the opportunity with never a fleeting though of compromising her beliefs.
That’s just one of my experiences on what you can expect from diverse vendors.
Amazing huh?!?! While that was an individual interaction, it is completely in the same spirit of countless diverse vendors I have dealt with for 15 years.
By no means are we the trendsetter in this essential dimension of our financial services ecosystem. However, I am proud to say that our Vendor Surf search engine platform is one of the most efficient resources out there to help promote Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) – enabling real action behind any intent to make a difference.
D&I was literally built into our fabric from the initial concept and design phases of Vendor Surf. When I ran Vendor Management at a Top-5 mortgage bank for nearly a decade, D&I was a priority then, and I carried this forward in launching our vendor search engine in 2017.
Below are examples of how Vendor Surf fosters an environment for mortgage and credit union ecosystems to effortlessly seek and find diverse service providers.
We have given some complimentary subscriptions to entities and associations that foster continued education and awareness of D&I in our industry.
Search Filters for D&I
One of the things that sets Vendor Surf apart from the static directories out there, those not using technology to make searching quick and easy, is our 3,000+ search filters. Among them, we have filters for certifications like: MBA Member, CUSO, SOC-Type II, Day-1 Certainty, etc.
We also maintain the following D&I based search filters:
- Woman or Minority Owned Enterprise (MWBE) certified
- LGBTQ Owned Business Enterprise certified
- Disabled Individual Owned Business certified
- Veteran Business Enterprise (VBE) certified
- Disabled Veteran Business Owned Enterprise (DVBE) certified
- Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) certified
- American Mortgage Diversity Council (AMDC) Member / Sponsor
- NAMMBA Member / Sponsor
Events, Conferences, Webinars, Etc.
We constantly search for industry events and educational opportunities that support D&I, posting them for free on our digital industry calendars – an events resource that is unmatched anywhere else in this industry.
With over a quarter million page-views since we launched, and having amassed well over 30,000 social media followers, we understand the level of influence we have – and we take our D&I responsibilities quite seriously. Even our first employee was a diverse hire. Why? Because nobody else compared on talent, skill and ability - pure awesomeness!
Whether you are just trying to abide by the Dodd-Frank Act’s Section 342 (Office of Women and Minority Inclusion) or company policy, or maybe supporting D&I is at the core of your company’s DNA, we have done our best to make it easier than ever to locate great vendor options.
You can also check out the following resources, as they do a stellar job of explaining the many components and benefits of effective D&I planning and execution.
Be sure to review their respective lists of sponsors and partners, a mix of lenders and vendors.
There Is More We Can Do
We are always looking for more vendor diversity to join our platform. There are way more options out there than even we currently represent. Contact me, let's figure out how to partner.
Lenders... Never – EVER – think that you are ‘settling for something less’ by seeking out vendors with diverse ownership and leaders. From everything I have seen, diverse vendors don’t want your charity or anything remotely resembling it. They want just one thing – an OPPOORTUNITY. These individuals simply ask for a chance to demonstrate the experience, capability, passion and drive to deliver excellence – and make you better. So, let them. Otherwise… ‘You're killing me Smalls.’ (Ham Porter, from The Sandlot – 1993)
If none of the above compels you to embrace D&I, in general, but especially in vendor sourcing, then take a little bit of time to research the rapidly changing demographics of our population.
Love the following quote from Verna Myers:
Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.
Thanks for reading.