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Hoosier leads charge in boosting minority supplier development

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We live in a multicultural society, yet when it comes to the melting pot receiving equal opportunities in business, all is not fair. That’s where Joset Wright-Lacy comes in.

This champion of diversity aims to increase procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes through the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).

“Your economy is only as good as the weakest part. If you have populations not participating because they don’t have jobs, what minority entrepreneurship does is create jobs. When companies do business with a minority-owned firm, you’re helping create wealth and the opportunity for people to be a part of the local economy,” said Wright-Lacy.

As president of the national council, the Hoosier native manages a staff of 27 at the NMSDC headquarters located in New York City. She also is responsible for providing services for 470 national corporate members, over 13,000 certified minority business enterprises, and 24 regional affiliates that provide help to over 1,300 regional members.

She believes her previous experience prepared her for this extraordinary task of leading the NMSDC.

After graduating from North Central High School in Indianapolis and going on to attend Denison University in Ohio and the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C., Wright-Lacy practiced litigation law.

“I actually started my legal career in Indianapolis at Indiana Bell Telephone Co. back in 1987,” Wright-Lacy said. “I helped the sales team understand the importance of making sure they had an effective program to track minority and women entrepreneur spending.”

She continued defending supplier diversity at Ameritech Corp.; got firsthand experience working for a minority business enterprise as the head of business development; and has also worked in the nonprofit sector.

Today she leads the NMSDC, the global leader in advancing business opportunities for its certified Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American business enterprises and connecting them to member corporations.

The organization recently hosted the NMSDC Leadership Awards where two Hoosiers were recognized. Bill Mays, chairman and CEO of Mays Chemical Co. received the Clarion Award and Carolyn Mosby, president and CEO of the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council, received the Vanguard Award.

“I was surprised yet humbled to receive this award,” said Mosby. “This was the first time the Vanguard Award was presented and was a part of NMSDC’s strategic growth plan. The plan was to change the way we served our members. Certain councils were identified and merged, including us. There were some challenges along the way, but we persevered.”

Mid-States MSDC helps carry out national goals in Indiana, central Illinois and eastern Missouri.

Though there have been many advances in minority supplier development, Wright-Lacy said there is still more work to be done. This includes many companies in Indiana.

“It’s cyclical. There are times when corporations understand the value of including minorities in their supply chain and other times they get off track. As much as you’d like to think that this is a critical skill for managing their business, not all companies are good at it or have practices in place to ensure that minorities are included,” said Wright-Lacy.

To make diversity a mainstay in business, she said it’s going to take NMSDC continuing to help large companies build minority programs.

Mosby adds that it’s also going to take further development of minority businesses prepare to take on the demands of large companies. Businesses must also evaluate the need and risk involved.

Experts say oftentimes the demands of large companies are so onerous, a smaller minority business may not want to seek the “big fish.” Also, they must also consider the payment terms. For example, some companies pay after 100 days, yet smaller businesses need capital sooner.

Mosby said the key is being strategic.

Also, no sole minority business group has an advantage over another. All have barriers particularly in the areas of accessing capital, and access to opportunities to participate and compete. Other issues include having considerable amounts of product to meet the needs of a large company and deliver that consistently.

Wright-Lacy, with the help of regional leaders such as Mosby, recognize these challenges and are working hard to smooth some of the wrinkles in this area of business. To do this, they plan to continue certifying businesses as minority business enterprises and help them grow and develop, while educating large corporations on the importance of minority businesses and how to use their products and services effectively.

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