Inaugural technology conference stresses importance of diversity with suppliers

Inaugural technology conference stresses importance of diversity with suppliers

In an inaugural technology conference hosted by the U.S. India Chamber of Commerce DFW, members of the business community spoke about the importance of minority businesses and collaboration with outside technology development.

The keynote breakfast speaker was Albert Shen, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the national deputy director of Minority Business Development Agency, said minorities will make up a majority of the country by 2044 and that five states or districts — Texas, New Mexico, Hawaii, California and Washington D.C — are already that way.

With the increase in the general population, that also means more businesses owned by minorities are being developed by in the country.

“This change is happening rapidly, right now,” Shen said. “So what does that mean to the entrepreneurs and the chamber of commerce to help those businesses grow faster?”

The first panel sought to answer that question and also why and how businesses partner with emerging technology companies.

Executives from Toyota, AT&T and Tech Mahindra America Inc. answered questions from the audience and panel moderator Mahesh Shetty, chairman of the U.S. India Chamber of Commerce DFW.

Oliver Turman, AT&T director of Supplier Diversity, said AT&T has an in-house goal that 21.5 percent of their supplies should be minority owned businesses. Last year, they reached 24 percent.

“We want our supply chain to look like our customer base,” Turman told the audience.

Another topic was the millennial generation. Shen said there are 82 million millennials in America right now. Each panel members stressed the importance of reaching that generation.

However, as a member of the audience asked the panel, how do companies balance the need of reaching the millennial generation with also targeting the baby boomers, who in most cases control most of the spending power right now?

“We’re still very focused on the baby boomer market,” said Mike Vilello, National Manager-Procurement operations at Toyota Financial Services. “The focus is on the entire customer base and not just the millennials.”

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