Detroit Regional Chamber > Racial Justice & Economic Equity > 1950s to Now: The History of the Supplier Diversity Business Initiatives

1950s to Now: The History of the Supplier Diversity Business Initiatives

August 31, 2021
The origins of supplier diversity go back to the 1950s and 1960s when the civil rights movement called for an end to the struggle for justice and equality for Black Americans. Those protests ultimately paved the way for many groups to participate in the marketplace.



  • Neither of the Acts established in the 1950s required that small businesses be owned by a member of a minority group. That directive was authorized by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which called for an end of discrimination that gave greater opportunities to majority-owned companies.
  • Another boost to anti-discrimination initiatives came in 1969 when the Office of Minority Business Enterprise was established. Two years later, the scope of the OMBE was expanded to provide grants so that business groups could provide technical and operational guidance to diverse suppliers.


  • The OMBE expansion gave rise to the founding of the National Minority Purchasing Council, now known as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, in 1972. The group has a vast network that supports and facilitates minority-owned businesses into corporate and public sector supply chains.
  • The Small Business Act of 1978 redefined minority firms as socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses and required federal agencies to establish contracting goals for major federal contracts. The act also established the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization to heighten awareness among small and diverse businesses of federal contracting opportunities available within the federal government.
  • In 1979, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to promote the economic growth of Hispanic-owned businesses.



The 2000s and Beyond

  • The National Veteran-Owned Business Association was founded in 2001 to create corporate contracting opportunities for America’s veterans and service-disabled veterans’ business enterprises.
  • The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2002 to ensure the implementation of pro-business LGBTQ-inclusive policies at corporations of public entities.
  • In 2010, the Small Business Jobs Act expanded access to capital for small businesses, increased exporting initiatives and strengthened contracting opportunities.
  • Supplier diversity continues to gain momentum in the U.S. and around the world as more companies realize the benefits of an inclusive supply chain. Challenges likely lay ahead for corporations and entrepreneurs, but the path to a stronger economy and marketplace is paved with the benefits of engaging diverse suppliers.

The original article can be read here.