In the wake of the spotlight put on social injustice and racial wealth inequality in the last year, Margo Posey, the president and CEO of the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council, says it’s time for action and leadership to improve outcomes for minority businesses.
She points to a study by McKinsey & Company that indicates the U.S. GDP would increase by 4 to 6 percent in seven years—the equivalent to $1.5 trillion—if the racial wealth gap is closed.
“What will change the future, however, is not studies and discussions, but real action. Perhaps the most important change with today’s dialogue is that some corporations have moved from talking about diversity to intentionally seeking ways to engage diverse companies,” she told Dallas Innovates.
Working for economic opportunity and social justice has been part of the council’s DNA for 47 years. The Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council (D/FW MSDC) was born in 1973 out of a pledge taken by nine North Texas leaders to actively purchase goods and services from minority-owned businesses.
Posey says that the social unrest in 2020 highlighted the obstacles that continue to face many African Americans.
That spotlight has allowed the council to be “even more proactive as an advocate for minority business inclusion as one of the single most effective drivers to strengthen North Texas, transform our school systems, and grow the economy,” she says. “We realize this is the ‘new NOW.’”
At the forefront of connecting communities
Posey has been at the helm of the council since 1992, after being recruited to DFW from Chicago, where she had her own consulting company, and then went to work for one of her biggest clients, United Airlines, to increase their contracts with minority-owned businesses.
Posey was sought after for her outreach to women, veterans, and the LGBT community. Soon after her arrival, D/FW MSDC helped form the North Texas Women’s Council, now the Women’s Business Council – Southwest.
Throughout the years, Posey has been recognized for her standout leadership skills, representing affiliate councils on the National Minority Supplier Council (NMSDC) Executive Committee and its board of directors. The D/FW MSDC is consistently one of the top councils and was named the NMSDC Council of the Year in 2011 and 2015.
As a 2020 recipient of the Vanguard Award from the NMSDC, Posey is known for her service-oriented approach to leadership.
“That means rolling up your sleeves and getting in the trenches—not expecting other people to do what you’re not willing to do,” Posey told Minority Business News Texas.
Helping minority businesses survive and thrive amidst the pandemic
In an April 2020 survey of minority-owned businesses, the D/FW MSDC found that just 43 percent were approved for the Paycheck Protection Program and only 11 percent received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
“When other businesses catch a cold, minority-owned businesses catch pneumonia,” Posey told the Dallas Business Journal.
The council and the Dallas Minority Business Development Agency, which it runs for the U.S. Department of Commerce, assisted minority business enterprises (MBEs) with securing PPP and EIDL funds.
The council also ramped up its virtual offerings to its members. The group is hosting a wide variety of online seminars, including on how companies are using artificial intelligence to innovate, a mentoring program funded by Capital One, and how to land small business loans.
In Summer 2020, D/FW MSDC hosted their first pitch challenge, ACCESS 2020. The winner, Plano-based career training marketplace TrainUp, received a $5,000 grant and one-on-one business coaching. The council plans to host the event again this year.
Meet the innovator
Margo Posey was featured in Dallas Innovates’ Future 50 in Dallas-Fort Worth in the 2021 edition of our annual magazine. We talked with the CEO about innovation, the impact of COVID-19, and plans for the future. Here’s a takeaway:
On highlighting racial injustice in the economy:
Perhaps the most notable development over the past year is the spotlight on racial injustice, systemic racism, and disparate purchasing practices that have not only impacted our minority-owned businesses but all businesses and the economy. To see the vocalization of long-held concerns in this area has been uplifting for our organization. It is what we have been declaring for 46 years, sometimes on deaf ears.
This new outpouring of concern and emphasis is allowing us to be even more proactive as an advocate for minority business inclusion as one of the single most effective drivers to strengthen North Texas, transform our school systems, and grow the economy. To that end, D/FW MSDC has been at the forefront of offering content that matters to both minority-owned businesses and our corporate and public agency partners since the global pandemic took root and the civil unrest began to explode. We have offered tangible series to guide businesses through PPP and EIDL funding options, keep their employees safe, deploy technology for work-at-home solutions, connect with each other for business opportunities, and source immediate supply chain needs.
On diversity in business:
Analysts who study the impact of diversity in our society will tell you diversity in business has a positive financial impact. A McKinsey & Company study indicated that by closing the racial wealth gap, the U.S. GDP would automatically increase 4-6 percent. That is significant.
What will change the future, however, is not studies and discussions, but real action. Perhaps the most important change with today’s dialogue is that some corporations have moved from talking about diversity to intentionally seeking ways to engage diverse companies. More have announced goals and commitment to increase spending with diverse businesses, even establishing specific goals for underserved ethnicities like Black Owned and Hispanic businesses.
For the D/FW MSDC this is exciting. We want to continue to engage both suppliers and buyers in connecting to create sustainable solutions for our stakeholders—now and into the future.
On facing recent challenges head-on:
Our response to the challenges of the global pandemic and social injustice has been three-fold.
We made a conscious effort at the beginning of the global pandemic to keep our employees and stakeholders safe. We quickly instituted work-from-home measures and shutdown our offices to visitors. This included embracing technology to stay connected, conducting the certification process of minority-owned businesses virtually, and staying connected to our corporations and certified minority-owned businesses virtually.
We surveyed our minority-owned businesses in the early stages of COVID-19 (April) to see how they were surviving, if they needed assistance to secure PPP and EIDL funding, what if any innovative solutions they had employed to pivot for survival of their business, and more. This survey was used locally, shared with Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32) prior to his vote on the CARES Act funding on April 23rd, and to D/FW MSDC stakeholders. We shared the survey throughout the U.S. with other affiliates of the National Minority Supplier Development Council to help respond to the immediate question of “How are Minority-Businesses Doing?”
We embraced and highlighted those corporate partners who were trying to broadcast their commitment to righting social injustice through investing in funds for minorities, setting goals to increase black and brown business utilization and speaking out against social and economic injustice.
As the CEO/President of D/FW MSDC, I had the opportunity to speak out to National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) constituents and stakeholders across the country in May during a speech while accepting the NMSDC Vanguard Award.
An excerpt of my speech: “We can no longer rely on band-aid tactics… We need Sustainable Solutions, Policies, and Processes that yield opportunities and utilization of ALL our MBEs and at all sizes from Class 1 (under $1M in annual revenue) thru Class 4 (over $50M in annual revenue). This pandemic has proven even the smallest of MBEs can and have performed, provided value, innovation, and deliverables at competitive pricing.”
On teamwork in difficult times:
As with all leaders during a time of crisis, you realize the most important thing you can do is to keep talking with your team. Embrace their concerns and ideas on how to move forward. And to remain calm and in charge.
I have worked with my team to develop the next best practices for our organization as we continue to follow existing best practices. A good case is the utilization of technology and webinar platforms to reach and teach people. In August we conducted our ACCESS 2020 Business Expo on a totally virtual platform. The Expo included industry group roundtables, matchmakers, plenary sessions, a CPO summit, a business marketplace, MBE2MBE Chat room, our first Pitch Contest, and a special hour Conversation with Curtis Morgan, CEO of Vistra Corp., moderated by Bonnie Clinton, DFW MSDC Board Chair and VP and CPO, Indirect Procurement Shared Services, Toyota.
My team jumped in, became a part of the new directions, and we succeeded together. In the process we learned significant tools and new methods that will be used to improve our communications and delivery in 2021.
On what’s next for the council:
The DFW MSDC, then the Dallas Regional Purchasing Council, was created in 1973 by local CEOs concerned with local social unrest spurred in part from economic exclusion and disparity. We cannot spend another 40+ years seeking solutions to eliminate disparity and achieving equity.
D/FW MSDC will continue to examine ways we can address the dialog on social unrest, position minority business inclusion as a viable solution to reduce the racial wealth gap, and assist corporations and public sector agencies in improving and expanding their utilization of minority-owned businesses throughout their total organization.
We are working with government programs and grants to position ourselves to extend more resources and tools to develop and grow sustainable businesses. We are working more with C-Suite leaders to help find solutions that matter in today’s business environment.
We realize this is the new NOW. It is time for us ALL to step up. We ARE all accountable for our collective future. We CAN make the difference together. It is important to us all that we succeed.
A version of this story was originally published in Dallas Innovates 2021: The Resilience Issue.
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