Around Thanksgiving, we began thinking what a strange fall this has been. Between 70 degree weather this close to December and the crazy election cycle we just experienced, 2016 should certainly be a year marked by multiple paragraphs in future history books.
Though many SDMWVLGBTBE (Small, Disadvantaged, Disabled, Minority, Women, Veteran, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered Business Enterprises) entrepreneurs have faced obstacles, this is our time of year for reflecting on gratitude for those who have gone before.
We’re particularly grateful to be in a country rich in diversity traditions. Current diversity programs are rooted in Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights movement. With President John Kennedy’s 1961 championship of affirmative action, federal contractors were urged to take “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are treated equally without regard to race, color, religion or national origin” by Executive Order (E.O.) 10925. The 1964 legislation, signed by President Lyndon Johnson, added sex/gender to the affirmative action agenda. This was the birth of Affirmative Action and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that has trickled down into all facets of employment law.
Ten years later, President Richard Nixon issued E.O. 11625 which directed federal agencies to develop comprehensive plans and specific program goals for a national Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) contracting program. Then President Ronald Reagan issued E.O. 12432 in 1983 requiring each federal agency that has significant procurement or grant making authority to create a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) development plan. Supplier Diversity programs at government agencies and large corporations would not exist without the vision and hard work of many activists and politicians.
Given the recent hotly contested election we just experienced, we’re grateful for the United States. It took us 240 years to get here, and diversity traditions that have become an integral part of the behemoth that is the US government will not be undone by a single election. In every presidential race since 1980, the divisive rhetoric has escalated (on both sides) to this absolute furor of chicken little proportions … the sky is not falling. We will survive.
We’re grateful for other organizations that offer opportunities to SDMWVLGBTBE businesses like this $50,000 business grant contest from Lending Tree.
And, finally, we’re grateful for the vast SDMWVLGBTBE family. We look forward to the community’s success as we lift each other up by sharing opportunities and partnering.