Ten years ago, when Ray Burney, Jr. started his business, RLA Engineering LLC, it was difficult to break into a competitive marketplace and create space for his new, minority-owned engineering firm. Although Burney had a healthy network of contacts at HP and also with other well-known companies in the technology industry, he was still challenged with obtaining access to decision makers.
“That was our biggest challenge. Our second biggest was gaining access to capital that allowed for initial investments in the facilities, financial systems, design tools, and professional services needed to set-up the business for long term success,” says Burney.
Unfortunately, this is the reality for many diverse entrepreneurs who face unique challenges and barriers of entry when starting up their businesses. These challenges are only exacerbated when small, diverse businesses attempt to compete for business with large, industry-leading companies.
HP’s inaugural Supplier Diversity Summit was held earlier this month to help address these issues. (And a new Supplier Diversity website launched.) The curated, one-day, virtual forum grew out of HP’s global supplier diversity program, which helps drive economic empowerment in diverse communities, ensuring that small, minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and other under-utilized businesses are given an equal opportunity to participate in HP’s supply base. The summit was an opportunity for these suppliers to learn how to effectively grow during a time of macroeconomic instability and scale their business with HP.
Over 300 participants representing more than 270 diverse suppliers participated in development-focused sessions ranging from how to effectively secure sustainable business with HP, gain equitable access to capital via HP’s early payment program, and how to build a best-in-class supplier diversity program. Participants also heard directly from HP’s executives including Chief Supply Chain Officer Ernest Nicolas and CFO Marie Myers, as well as Stacy Brown-Philpot, an HP board member.