Short History of Supplier Diversity

Supplier Diversity has its roots in Civil Rights legislation. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy championed civil rights working with Congress on HR 5271 that ultimately became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a “brilliant move by the arch foe of civil rights ”, Congressman Judge Howard W. Smith introduced an amendment to insert the word sex into the Act. This broadened Kennedy’s 1961 Executive Order (E.O.) 10925 affirmative action which instructed federal contractors to take “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are treated equally without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” President Johnson amended E.O. 11246, which established the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, in 1967 to include affirmative action for women. This required Federal contractors to make good-faith efforts to expand employment opportunities for both women and minorities. President Nixon used E.O. 11458 to create a federal Office of Minority Business Enterprise (OMBE). During 1979, the agency was renamed the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In 1971, President Nixon issued E.O. 11625, directing federal agencies to develop comprehensive plans and specific program goals for a national Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) contracting program. Then, in 1983, President Ronald Reagan issued E.O. 12432, which directed each federal agency with substantial procurement or grant making authority to develop a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) development plan.

The actions of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan led to the formal process of identifying and vetting the credentials of businesses that claim to be owned and operated by qualified members of diverse ethnicity, veteran, women or disabled groups.

References:
1. The Longest Debate; Whalen, Charles & Barbara; Seven Locks Press 1985; page 116
2. The History of Affirmative Action Policies; Americans for Fair Chance

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