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Diversity in Business

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a Changing Country

Adrienne Trimble, president and CEO of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), knows the future is all about minority-owned businesses. The former general manager for diversity and inclusion at Toyota Motor North America sat down for a conversation about diversity in business.

Adrienne Trimble

President and CEO, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)

How vital is supplier diversity? 

Supplier diversity is truly about economic inclusion. There is a business case for why this is critically important to the United States as a whole. It leads to the creation of disposable and discretionary income, particularly in underserved and underrepresented communities.

What were the challenges when you implemented Toyota’s Supplier Diversity Initiative? 

How do we find new ways to engage diverse suppliers in spaces where they may not have the experience, depth of knowledge, or ownership of intellectual property? We worked with our internal organization called Toyota Supplier Support Center to begin mentoring minority businesses.

How can business leaders ensure corporate accountability in their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives? 

It has to be a top-down approach because leadership has to shape the culture of that company. That means making sure leaders understand the business rationale behind DEI.

Tell us about the Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) certification. 

Our corporate members rely on us to ensure the companies they do business with are 51 percent controlled by minority entities. Our certification process is very intense, because organizations like DiversityInc and the Billion Dollar Roundtable only look to certain entities to validate the certification of those businesses, and the NMSDC is one of them.

How does the Emerging Young Entrepreneurs Program (EYE) prepare young entrepreneurs? 

Students who have a business idea or current business owners in need of support work with a corporate member or another stakeholder. The goal is to provide skills, tools, strategies, and resources to help grow their companies and their careers.

Trimble knows her work is far from done, which is why the NMSDC launched the In This Together campaign. “The pandemic has impacted minority businesses to a greater degree, and racial barriers continue to impact minority firms — the mission of NMSDC is more critical now than probably ever before.”

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